Just a quick one!

This update addresses a few of the issues you reported in the blog comments yesterday:

  • The todo counts update when you action/deadline something
  • The Support/Preferences links are hidden until I’ve had time to implement them
  • The chat icon doesn’t get pushed off the bottom of Gmail anymore

You can grab it from http://www.activeinboxhq.com/install_nlg.php.

Pinning Labels and the Sidebar?

One of the trickier questions that came up on yesterday’s post: what shall we do with pinned labels on the top bar?

Clearly using more vertical space is not an option; and would lose the very clean look.

1) Put the pinned labels at the top of the Projects dropdown (well, at the top of each label type’s dropdown).

2) Take greater control of Gmail’s existing facility for labels in the sidebar: Recent Labels. Rather than duplicate that functionality, we could have it so that when you pin a label, it’s definitely added to Recent Labels; and when you unpin a label, it’s removed. Furthermore, we could remove the prefix (e.g. P/) and possibly add a folder icon to indicate they’re AIB folders, and finally order them alphabetically.

Which would work for you?

Update Sunday 6 Nov at 12:06

Okay, from the blog comments I’m thinking I didn’t do a great job of explaining the proposals… let me try in more detail!

AIB Moved Out Of The Sidebar Because It Wasn’t Reminding Us…

So why did I pull AIB out of the sidebar? There’s two major reasons. First, it was simply not very easy to use: menus were prone to flying out without good reason, the sidebar is already really cluttered, and worst of all, it was very easy to ignore, so todos got missed. Second, the new Gmail made “being easy to ignore” 10x worse because of its dynamic scaling when you mouse over it. Essentially, new look Gmail pushed us out.

In short, it’s not a trivial for us to “turn the sidebar back on”. (And I don’t believe we want to…)

Auto-Hide Keeps Vertical Space To A Minimum

Now, I work with a small screen myself. So your main concern about using precious vertical space… I feel it too.

However, one idea I have at the moment is to – as a preference – dynamically hide certain features in the fixed-header-pane (the bit that includes the Google bar – the one that links to ‘Mail, Calendar, Docs, Google+, etc.’, our Reminder bar, Gmail’s search, etc.). Especially Gmail’s Google bar. It could be minimised until you mouse over it; it could re-appear when you’re in the inbox but hide itself at other times.

We Pin To Focus On Today’s Important Things

And to the question of pinning. Why do we pin? To get quick access to the thing we’re currently working on faster than anything else. The most common thing we’re likely to want to see.

There is also a difference between things we always want visible – the todo count of ‘Today’ for example, and the things we just want quick access to, such as a project you’re working on, which can be slightly less visible.

I think that having ‘pinned’ items appear at the top of the Review Bar dropdowns would give us this very elegantly.

We could also experiment with other forms of reminder, such as a timely “You have 6 actions over 1 day old”, “You have not looked at your Home context recently”, etc.

And if you’re a power user who doesn’t worry about vertical-space, we could also add a row for pinning items below the main bar.

We Can Pin Less If We Clean Up Old Projects

If we make it very easy to take a project label (or whatever), and say “this is old, take it out of my sight”, then we need to pin things less, because the regular list will be much more focused.

Having AIB Reviews in two places is fragmenting

A major reason I’m cautious about having ActiveInbox appear both in the top bar and the sidebar is that you lose track of where to look for things. Instead of just going for the top bar, you have to decide first if the thing you want is at the top or on the left.

This is why I think we need to spend some time with only the top bar, so we can get used to looking there; rather than the sidebar. If after a few weeks it’s really not working, we can reconsider.

One thing we could try would be to just put pinned items in the Gmail sidebar.

A wireframe of things we can do:


This was written by Andy Mitchell