Show me the Future!

Ahh, I see. Yeah, that doesn’t seem ideal.

I like the idea of a timeline view. I think I’d rather still have it grow downwards. I like the idea of not having graph thumbnails, and having most everything collapsed to nearly nothing, and having a nice sharp line at days and at the 1 week akrasia horizon.

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Hmm. I’m not sure how this would be functionally different to the current dashboard sorted by deadline? As I scroll down my dashboard, it’s essentially a timeline, and it even makes it convenient to open up the next goal that’s due, add data, close it, move on…


For visual/spatial thinkers, having the goal distance from the top of the line may be a nice way to indicate the deadline. Right now, I have no idea where the akrasia horizon is on my list of goals, and I’ve actually asked for us to add a line that indicates 1 week from today.

My slight grumpiness with the list of goals may be related to my issues with the graph colors, too.


Also, while the colors are a good indicator of time if you haven’t changed your deadlines, things start breaking down if you have. A 10am deadline, for instance, turns red even when due tomorrow well before the end of the day. Having a mix of goals with differing deadlines means colors become a lot less useful for indicating what needs to be completed in a specific day.

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Functionally in the sense of “if you look at it long and hard enough you will find all the information you want in there”, yes.
Functionally in the sense that a lightweight time line provides just the information I require in just the way I can process it quickly and non ambiguously, then no. It’s not equivalent.

This feature request and your sketch is quite related to what I asked for ages ago:

I’d appreciate if at the very least there was a small but noticeable vertical gap in between dates (@dreev also suggested this). Making everything you grouped together with curly braces into a visually separate block of goals. I want more though :slight_smile:

Even with that there is still a lot of information that you don’t need in a lot of situations, such as the graphs (pretty as they might be). This just adds noise and distraction. I know tables are easy to program :wink: I need spatial clues though.

I also second that the colours are next to useless when you have deadlines prior to 24:00 and so on. You will have BIG RED GOALS in your face the entire day and need to convince yourself that red = OK because there is nothing you can do about it.

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whispers I don’t get it.

But that’s okay. :laughing: It’s fairly inevitable, since it sounds like a very visual way of organising things, and I have absolutely zero visual imagination and no mind’s eye.

(I’m also really bad at math and with any kind of numbers, in any configuration. Sometimes I wonder what I am good at. :wink:)

The applet list does this now.

I don’t understand. There is something you can do about it - do the tasks! The red goals tell you those are the things you have to do today

The applet list is equally spaced out per goal, rather than per deadline, it doesn’t indicate different days graphically, and it’s only available for Android users.

I think he’s talking about the lack of an uncle button, something we have talked quite a bit before.

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It does show different colors for different 24-hour periods, sort of:

I do have two goals with a deadline set at 12:00 and 13:00 that are about making myself look presentable before lunch and getting some (not all) work done in the morning before 13:00.

Those make no sense to do in advance and they are bright red almost all the time.


Most of my goals are like that - I’m not sure what the problem with that is. How should they be?

I have goals like this, too—/slick (akin to @phi’s look presentable goal) and /timeboxing (plan my day in the morning). These goals are quite regularly red the day before it makes any sense to do them (that is, I’ve already planned my day and made myself presentable, and yet after ~9:30am the goals are red for the rest of the day).

The point is that “due in less than 24 hours” and “due today” are, for some of us, often two different things, and we’d really like to be able to easily see the second as well as the first.

Also, when you have many different deadlines (think: deadline waterfall), as things currently stand there’s no way to see what exactly is going on with your day at a glance. Of course, you can figure it out, but you have to stare to figure it out, not glance. And when money’s on the line and the day is hectic, being able to take things in at a glance becomes quite important.

I think there are three factors that feed into a need for this feature. If none of these are true for you, you aren’t likely to see a need for this feature. But for those of us who these do apply to, something like this would be incredibly useful.

  1. You have many varied and non-midnight deadlines.
  2. You have a lot of goals.
  3. You tend to edge-skate.

If none of these things apply to you, it’s pretty simple to keep what you need to do today in your head, and the current UI is more than sufficient to communicate what you need to know.

If, however, these conditions do apply to you, you’re going to have a hard time keeping every goal due today and its respective deadline in your head, and the current UI is pretty handicapped in its ability to communicate that to you quickly. In the end, that means Beeminder’s threat becomes fuzzy, preventing it from having the influence it should on your life.

My goal is that every time I derail it’s due to a conscious calculation. Missing a deadline because it’s unclear to me what’s due when is not a conscious calculation. It’s not a valuable way to derail, so it should be minimized.

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Doesn’t the list widget do that?

All these things apply to me, and I don’t need to keep it in my head because the list widget shows them.

But - it would be great if the list widget could show times instead of or in addition to the amount of time until the deadline (that is, epoch rather than interval).

Frankly, no. At a glance you can see:

  1. Which goals are due within 24 hours (they’re red).
  2. The general order of which goals are due before which other goals.

Beyond that, you have to read to find out the following things, which I think @phi and I would prefer be communicated in a more visual way:

  1. Which goals are due today vs tomorrow?
  2. About how long do I have until this goal is due?
  3. How are the goals dispersed throughout the day?
  4. Which goals are due close together?

Also, regarding number of goals, I currently have 40+ goals. It looks like you may have ~8? Of course, I can’t count the number of private goals you have…


I have 63 now. Check out those pics I posted up there with the list widgets… you can see I have a lot.

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seconding everything narthur’s saying. A simple vertical line with deadlines for goals marked by goal names linked to the full goal page, and each day and the akrasia horizon of 1 week clearly marked on the vertical line, would be a pretty great place to start, I think.

As we get fancy, imagine watching the goals transition and move as data gets entered, and imagine the whole line slowly moving upwards, maybe even at half transparency for anything in the past, quickly fading to invisible…


I don’t have a list widget. Don’t get me started on the app. The iOS app… leaves much to be desired. It’s definitely the worst app on my phone (and iPad) and it’s tough to even find an app that is buggier than that in the app store. The widget is next to useless, there is no list widget, it crashes all the time, it looks completely stupid on an iPad, it offers very limited functionality compared to the website. The time tracker is still unreliable. Sorry for the harsh words but it’s been months. All these are known issues.
If it’s so hard to fix it then scrap it and make the website work better on mobile.

OK you got me started :stuck_out_tongue:

A few years ago, I was working on hacking up something like what @phi is describing with the Beeminder API and D3. I kind of dropped it when I learned about cross domain scripting restrictions and realized I needed to code a backend. (I was jumping into D3 without having properly learned JS.) It’s sitting around somewhere.

The purpose of my thing was more specific, though. Back then I had several time input goals, and I wanted to have a dashboard that could warn me before things saturated. I was planning on visualizing the time amounts due for each goal, and due for all timey of goals of similar units on the timeline as well.

Nothing mentioned in this thread did that kind of calculation for me, and my schedule at the time was not amenable to arranging the goals in a waterfall.

This is an interesting way of constructing goals. I have gotten used to thinking about a red goal as mandatory for today. Red doesn’t necessarily mean not okay, it just indicates a priority class.

If I understand @phi correctly, you could have a goal you only really want to begin worrying about at a certain time.

There is a general related question that comes up for me: “Given multiple commitments, including Beeminder goals and things not in Beeminder, when should I start doing any particular thing?” And “When is my last chance to get started on this before moving on to something else I can do?”

This would require more abstractions than Beeminder

I’ve been thinking about getting back into D3 and vis. If I weren’t in the middle of a job/internship search right now, I would be happy to dig up my old code and prototype an unofficial UI for this. I also have promised to contribute a blog post toward the end of the summer, so after I do that, I can give it a shot if folks are still interested.

As a side note, I think the reminder side of the goals problem-space that Beeminder is tackling is much harder than the commitment side. I think that’s because it’s kind of edging into the problem space of Planning. There are certain ways of using Beeminder (like Waterfall, or @mary’s use Beeminder for everything) that let you avoid some of the problems, but there are so many different combinations of goals that have a high demand for planning and management.


I’d love to see it!