MindManager 9 Task Date Issue

Xiahung commented on the blog this week that MindManager 9 was adding task durations as "end date-start date" and causing unexpected date-related behavior in his ResultsManager dashboards. I hadn't noticed issues in the pre-release version I'd done some cursory testing on, but Nick Duffill has now determined that changes were made in the final release of v9 to better support use of new Gantt chart capabilities that explain what is going on. Nick has gone to great lengths to characterize the undocumented changes and summarized them in a message in the GTD-MindManager Yahoo group today. I've reproduced his message below for those who are not currently subscribed.

If you are a regular user of ResultsManager, and particularly if you are regular user of MindReader, I would recommend staying with (or moving back to) V8 until this can be addressed by Mindjet or somehow worked around. For example the MindReader "ndd" (no due date) keyword no longer removes due dates. Changing a start or due date with the "m" tage will likely unintentionally shift the other date by a similar amount.

GTD-MindManager post by Nick Duffill:

A brief update for MindManager 7 & 8 users considering moving to MindManager 9,
and for MindManager 9 users who have ResultsManager, or who are using
MindManager for project management.

MindManager 9 has introduced some changes in the way that date information is
handled, which have implications that you should be aware of.

First, it seems that you cannot set a date which is not in the map calendar. So
if the default map calendar only shows Monday to Friday as working days, you
cannot set a date on a topic for a Saturday – it will change to the next working
day by magic. The map calendar must be modified before other days can be used.

"Duration" has changed from being the time that a task will take, to being the
difference in working days between start and end dates. The start date, duration
and due date are now locked to each other. If you change any one, then one of
the others will change to maintain their relationship (subject to the working
calendar rules too). This applies through the software interface as well as
through the user interface, which is proving problematic for ResultsManager use.
The dates that a topic gets might or might not be the ones you entered in the
ResultsManager edit dialogue, for the above reasons. ResultsManager does not
apply the same rules, and at present cannot discover what the rules are through
the API.

It is only possible to have topics with only one date on them under specific
conditions now. Generally, if a topic is assigned one date, then MindManager
will ensure that the other one is defined too. We know that a lot of MindManager
users only use the due date.

Lastly, if you change the duration of a task, the due date may get automatically
moved back to suit the duration. If you use due dates to keep track of stuff,
keep an eye on this behaviour. As mentioned, when you edit one of the dates, the
other might move without you noticing.

MindManager 9 has moved from being a fairly flexible system for keeping track of
dated tasks, to something that is more locked down and mainly designed to
support the built-in task management. ResultsManager depended on a flexible
platform, so some users are experiencing problems with the new regime. In
ResultsManager, the start date has always been the first date on which you
wanted to see an action come up in dashboards. This option has effectively gone,
and "start date" now means "the last day that a task can be started, if it is to
be finished on time".

If you have MindManager 8 and are using ResultsManager at present, and rely on
dated tasks in your maps, then it might be worth hanging on for date handling to
be addressed in a MindManager 9 service pack, unless the benefits of MindManager
9 outweigh this.

Best regards
Nick Duffill

I'm hoping these issues can be worked through as part of blog series on MindManager Project Management. See MindManager Project Management Part 1 — Project Definition.

8 Comments »

  1. Andrew Wilcox said,

    August 26, 2010 @ 2:27 am

    I concur that the task engine in MindManager 9 does not behave according to my expectations and experience with using project management software for 25 years. The whole point of the Gantt, PERT and CPA is that you specify a minimum number of constraints and then let the model determine options such as earliest finish and latest start. MindManager 9 seems to take any value that you enter and automatically add further constraints thus destroying the flexibility, validity and value of a model. e.g. tasks are forced to the next working day even when there is either all the time necessary to complete on the intended day or they can be partly complete on that day. If you use MindManager 8 in conjunction with JCVGantt or MS Project, keep those tools running as well and never open and save your project planning maps in MindManager 9.

  2. rob said,

    August 26, 2010 @ 4:21 am

    I've already unistalled MM9 because of this. My workflow centres around ResultsManager and came crashing down around me when I moved to MM9. Andrew is right, the task engine in MM9 is not fit for purpose as far as I'm concerned. Mindjet seem to have dropped the ball with this release. Did they do any beta testing? Do they have any idea on how projects run? I'm back now to MM7 and my productivity is back up to speed, guess I'll save some money not upgrading.

  3. Stephanie Neill said,

    August 26, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    Hi everybody,

    It's always tricky to try and serve the basic users and more experienced power users like you at the same time. As it happens, there was a lot of feedback in the form of support requests from the past two years, which told us that we needed to begin changing how we handle task information, in order to maintain consistency and to better support Gantt and resource utilization analysis and other cool features we have planned.

    While most of the feedback from users and technical partners thus far has been very positive, we will be working with Nick and other technical partners in the coming months to determine the best solutions to the problems that are being discussed here.

    If you have any ideas or concerns, please let us know. Thanks for the feedback, guys!

    ~Stephanie

  4. ActivityOwner said,

    August 26, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

    Thanks for commenting Stephanie. As a hobbyist add-in maker I understand the challenges of maintaining backward compatibility while things evolve with new requests. Gantt chart type capabilities are certainly appealing and have potential to improve Mindjet's market penetration.

    The new changes appear to be focused on much more structured project management plans than an individual would pursue. The issues Nick raises are important to any user applying MindManager to the Getting Things Done (GTD) regardless of their use of particular add-ins. My guess is that the majority of GTD users will not want changes in earliest start date to impact due date or vice versa.

    Note that Andrew is not a ResultsManager user and is suggesting the approach currently implemented is not consistent with traditional Gantt-chart orient project management either.

    In terms of workable solutions, perhaps MindJet could implement a option switch that disables the new date interactions in similar way that the task roll up capabilities can be disabled?

  5. José Miguel Bolívar said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 5:00 am

    I am a MindManager user since version 3 and can affirm without doubt that it is a great piece of software.

    It is expensive for most home users though, so the main reason why I have been paying for it is because my GTD solution (namely ResultsManager with a custom version of MindReader) runs on it.

    The latest changes on the way dates are handled are far too rigid and incompatible with that solution and probably with others.

    While I see the potential benefits of the new date approach in some cases, I do not understand why they have to be hardcoded instead of optional.

    I hope Mindjet is able to shortly find a way to disable the new date handling "feature" on a per map basis, thus ensuring full backwards compatibility.

  6. Using MindManager for Project Management Part 1 — Definition » ActivityOwner.Com – Getting Things Done with MindManager, ResultsManager, and GyroQ said,

    August 28, 2010 @ 11:10 am

    […] by tweaking them, but the release of MindManager 9 is pulling me me out of semi-retirement with changes in how Mindjet handles tasks that impact Gyronix ResultsManager and the MindReader add-in available on this site. This Saturday […]

  7. MindManager Project Management Part 2 – Brainstorming » ActivityOwner.Com – Getting Things Done with MindManager, ResultsManager, and GyroQ said,

    August 29, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    […] macros" and "examples of how I use the tools". I figured coping with the current MindManager Task Date issue provides a good case study to start to address the […]

  8. MindManager Project Management Part 4 — Project Planning » ActivityOwner.Com – Getting Things Done with MindManager, ResultsManager, and GyroQ said,

    October 17, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

    […] In Part 2, we had generated a rough outline of actions to be taken to address issues with Task dates in MindManager 9: […]

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