I'm continuing this thread: http://lists.osafoundation.org/pipermail/design/2007-September/007662.html
with a more holistic title.
After meeting separate with Bryan Stearns and Philippe today, I have a proposal for how we can iteratively improve the Who column to make it both more understandable and more usable for certain core sharing scenarios.
Core scenarios we'd like to solve:
1. Just like dates, for any given item, there are many 'who (aka person)' attributes: Created by, Edited by, From, To, CC, BCC, Sent by, Updated by, etc... Our goal has been to try as much as possible to intelligently display the 'who attribute' users *most* associate with any given item.
- For non message items, the rule has been either Edited by or Created by (if the item has not been subsequently edited).
- For message items, the assumption is that depending on whether the message is fromMe or toMe, the user will want to see the opposite attribute. For fromMe items, show who the message is 'to' in the Who column. For toMe items, show who the message is 'fr' in the Who column.
- For shared items, it's important to be able to see who edited an item last.
As you can see, problems arise when you have an item that is both shared and a message. Currently sharing wins over message-ness and 'fr/to-ness' is permanently lost in the Who column once a message item has been edited.
2. Sharing group task lists. When sharing group task lists, it would be nice to see who the tasks are assigned to in the Who column. We'd like to encourage users to start using the Addressing stamp as a way to assign tasks.
Currently this is hard to do because if an item is neither fromMe nor toMe (which will be the common case for shared tasks list, most tasks will be neither assigned to me nor assigned by me), we display the 'fr' field in the Who column, when what you want to do is display the 'to' field so you can see who the task is assigned to.
To better serve the 2 scenarios listed above, I've filed the following bugs.
Nominations for 0.7.1
10924 Leave Who column blank when user stamps an item but doesn't address it
+ Currently, we display the 'fr' field for fromMe items that are not addressed 'to' anyone. This confuses the model that all fromMe messages display 'to' and all toMe messages display 'fr' in the Who column.
10927 Make 'Edited by' in the Who column, transient for messages
+ This addresses the problem in Scenario 1 where if a message item is shared, the 'fr/to' attribute (which we think is the most important Who-attribute associated with message items) is lost forever from the Who column as soon as that item is edited. However, we don't want to be overzealous in preserving 'fr/to' metadata because it's also very important for sharing subscribers to see who last changed items in a shared collection. Bug 10927 would make it so that 'Edited by' displays 'temporarily' in the Who column, long enough for users to get an impression of who changed what in the shared collection...but not permanently such that 'fr/to-ness' is lost forever in the table.
10925 Display 'to' if message is neither fromMe nor toMe
+ This allows us to better server Scenario 2: Sharing group task lists and seeing who tasks are assigned to in the Who column.
10933 Don't change the Who column and Comm Status column when editing sent/recvd messages
+ I would have added this to Phase 1, but I have information that this is not a piece of cake to figure out. The reasoning behind this bug is that most of the time when users edit messages that have already been sent/received, they are not doing so to send it out again as an update. So until we have a way for users to explicitly specify whether they're editing just for the sake of editing or editing for the sake of updating, let's err on the conservative side and assume they're editing just for the sake of editing. This means that if I edit an email I received, I will continue to see no icon in the Communication Status column, as in, I will *not* see an outbound-draft-update icon AND the Who column won't replace who the message is 'fr', which is really what's important to me, with who the message is 'to' (which in all likelihood is me, since it's a toMe message).
10928 Temporarily display 'Last modified date' in Date column for Events and/or items with Ticklers
+ This is to make the Date column behave more consistently with the Who column as described in bug 10927 above. I only have this in Phase 2 because I'm assuming it's a bunch of extra work. If it's the same as bug 10927, we should do these 2 things together.
10930 Better visual feedback for 'transient' 'ed' and 'last mod on' attributes in the Who and Date columns
+ This is to provide better visual feedback, to warn users that the Who and Date columns
10931 A way to specify what attribute you see in the Who and Date columns
+ This would provide users with the ultimate flexibility for specifying what they see in the 'Who column' to satisfy specific use cases like:
- Sharing group tasks lists and seeing which tasks are assigned to whom. If we do phase 1 and 2, we roughly have this scenario covered, but there will *still* be the case where a task is assigned 'to you' and is therefore considered a 'toMe' message and displays 'fr' in the Who column.
- Searching by a particular Who attribute
10932 More specific flavors of 'From' and 'To'
+ Like Assigned by, Organizer and Assigned to, Invite
+ By making the semantics of From and To more explicit, users may have an easier time figuring how use the 'From' and 'To' fields to do things like assign tasks and send invitations.
Philippe also had a suggestion for suppressing 'Created by' and 'Edited by' in the Who column for non-message items, even if those items are shared. This would in effect, leave the column blank whenever 'you' create or edit a none-message item.
There's been little controversy over suppressing this metadata for non-shared items. However, the thinking behind showing it for shared items was that it was useful for people to see what items they cr/ed versus what items other people cr/ed. However, Philippe pointed out that:
+ Even when collections are shared, they are often shared for the sake of sharing with yourself, not with others; OR they are shared with others who don't really edit the items very much. So mostly, all the items are cr/ed by 'me'.
+ For collections that are shared with and actively edited by others, users can still infer that they cr/ed an item by the lack of metadata in the Who column. In other words, blank Who column = cr/ed by 'me'.
I was about to log this bug and describe the above behavior. However, I realized that there is the funny case where you have a shared item that was last edited by someone else and then you come along and edit it and the Who column goes blank. Is that too weird?