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CanDo User Guide

Version 1.4
August 2007
  1. Overview
  2. Basic Operations
  3. Sorting
  4. Key Cycling
  5. Filters (priority, date, keyword)
  6. Enhanced Details
  7. Saved Views
  8. Umbrella Categories
  9. Global Preferences
  10. Row Shading
  11. Navigator and Jog Dial
  12. Installation/Removal
  13. Registration
  14. Hints and Tips
  15. Further Information


CanDo is a task management application which has been designed to help enhance personal productivity by providing a clean and customisable interface to your task lists. A key design goal is to allow you to see what next actions could be done in a range of contexts without clutter.

CanDo is a replacement for the standard Palm Tasks application (and also the earlier To Do List application distributed with Palm and other devices). It retains compatibility with both Palm applications by sharing the same databases (if the Tasks database is found then CanDo will use it; otherwise it will use the To Do database). This means you can switch between the built-in application and CanDo, and you can continue to use the standard Palm Desktop application on your PC (*).

(*) Note: CanDo does not currently support repeating tasks or alarms which are available in the "Tasks" application. If you wish to use these features you will need to use the Tasks application, however you can still use CanDo to access other data.

Some examples of the features supported by CanDo are:

CanDo aims to provide the flexibility to support your own style of organising and managing tasks rather than impose any pre-defined "system". In effect, you create your own system by customising CanDo to your preferred style of working, saving multiple views, and quickly switching between them as required.

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Basic Operations

The user interface of CanDo is based on the original built-in To Do application. Most basic functions are fairly intuitive and are not explained in this manual. For example, you create new tasks in CanDo in the same way as you do with the built-in application by using the "New" button, or by starting to enter Graffiti input, or by pasting from the Clipboard. Tasks are marked completed by tapping the checkbox on the left hand side of the main task list view. Refer to the Palm documentation for further details.

There are a few cases where the basic behaviour is slightly different, however. One point to note is that CanDo will respect the current filter settings as far as possible when creating a new task. For example, if you are filtering out "Undated" tasks then a new item (which would normally be undated) would not then be visible -- and so it is created with a due date set according to the current filter settings.

The filtering is designed to be very flexible, which means that it is actually possible to set it so that all tasks are filtered out and the screen is empty. This might be confusing initially; but if any filtering is present, the "Filter" button is shown inverted -- so check the filter settings if you suspect you are missing some tasks.

Display settings are accessed using the "Show" button at the bottom of the list view. Users familiar with the built-in To Do List should note that the "Record Completion Date" option has been moved from the "Show" dialog in the built-in To Do List, to the Global Preferences dialog accessed from the Option menu item.

CanDo allows you to switch easily between different filter and preference configurations using saved views. If you have carefully set up some feature (such as umbrella categories) then make sure you save your settings in a view (or update the current view) before changing to a new view. The name of the current saved view can, if wished, be displayed in CanDo's titlebar. This setting is accessed from the Global Preferences dialog. If not enabled, or if no saved view is in operation, then the titlebar displays simply "Tasks".

CanDo includes other enhancements to the basic operations:

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The sort order of the task list display can be configured using the "Sort By" tab in the Display Settings dialog; accessed by pressing the "Show" button on the main screen. The drop-down list provides a quick way to set common sort order options.

The first four options (Priority,Due Date; Due Date,Priority; Category,Priority; Category,Due Date) are provided for compatibility with the built-in ToDo application. Note: although only two sort criteria are named (for example Priority, Due Date) the third criterion (for example Category) is implied -- again, this is for compatibility with the built-in application.

The final two options (Description,Priority; Category,Description) are CanDo extensions which allow alphabetic sorting of tasks. Tasks will be automatically sorted by their description text and will be re-ordered in the list whenever it is edited.

If the six options on the drop-down list are insufficient then a custom sort order can be created by tapping on the sort order labels: 1st means the first criterion that will be applied to the list items; 2nd means the second criterion, and so on.

For example, the list on the right has a custom sort order: 1st by Priority and then 2nd by Description. Note: if any Description sorting is active then the subsequent criteria (3rd and 4th in this case) are unlikely to be needed. For example, the item "D: Review sales targets" is sorted firstly by priority (in this case 1) and then by the full description text. The only time that subsequent sort criteria would be checked would be if there were another task which was also priority 1 and had exactly the same description text (i.e. "D: Review sales targets") but had a different category or due date.

If automatic sort by Description is not being used (i.e. the sort order does not include "Description") then you can still trigger a manual aphabetic sort to get your list in order. There are two ways of performing a manual alphabetic sort:

Note that the manual sort is always applied within the groupings enforced by the existing sort criteria. For example, if you are already sorting by Priority, Due Date and Category then a manual alphasort will only change the order of items which have the same Priority, Due Date and Category. If you want to do an unconstrained sort then you need to first change to a different sort order.

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Key Cycling

The handheld device can be configured so that CanDo is launched by one of the hardware key buttons. The normal choice would be to use the button normally assigned to the To Do List application (if the button is present on your device). If you have installed any hacks which remap the keys (such as AppHack) then these may also need to be reconfigured.

If CanDo is assigned to a hardware key button then normal behaviour when the key is pressed is to switch to the CanDo application, or cycle through the task categories if CanDo is already running.

CanDo provides some extended functionality, which can be configured via the "Key Cycling" tab; accessed by tapping the "Show" button on the main screen:

The behaviour of the built-in To Do List is that, when cycling through the categories with the hard key, the All category is always shown, and the Unfiled and any empty categories are never shown. CanDo allows these to be configured explicitly, and they may be set differently in each saved View. The last option affects whether the category is shown if it is a child of an Umbrella category; this is detailed further in the umbrella categories section.

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The current task list can be refined by filtering by priority, date, and keyword. This can be used as a powerful means of managing the task list and focussing in on those tasks that you want to see.

The priority filter can be used pick out any combination of the five priorities. You are not restricted to using a continous range: you could show 2 and 4 if you wanted. As an example, you might decide to treat priorities 1 to 5 as "Important + Urgent", "Important + Not Urgent", "Not Important + Urgent", "Not Important + Not Urgent", and "Not Assigned", respectively; it is then simple to check each grouping as required.

The priority filter settings affect the priority of new tasks created. For example, if only priorities 2 and 4 are shown, then when a new task is created it will have priority 2, as that is the highest priority visible. If the preferences are set so that "Lo Priority for New Items" is checked (see under Preferences), then a newly created task will have priority 4, as that is the lowest priority visible. The priority filter settings are maintained separately for each saved View.

Date filtering is more complex. It allows you to pick out tasks based on their due date setting. At the basic level you can pick out just those tasks which are undated, or those which have a date set.

More complex filtering of dated items is possible by selecting periods from one of the available date ranges: days; weeks; months; quarters; and years. Note that date filtering is always subject to the "Show Only Due Items" setting from the "Show" dialog. For example, if you set a filter which showed just dated items from this month, then "Show Only Due Items" would ensure that only items which were due up to today's date in the current month were visible. For this reason, the filter dialog shows a reminder if "Show Only Due Items" is active.

Keyword filtering allows filtering of tasks by matching a text string or keyword within the task's Description, the Note, or both. The two "Context" buttons control where the text match is checked, while other options allow for exact matching of case and word boundaries.

The "New" button on the main CanDo screen creates a new task which must be visible within the current filter settings; therefore when text filtering is in operation, a new task must contain the keyword text. If both the Description and Note contexts are enabled, an option appears at the bottom of the keyword filter panel which specifies where the keyword text should appear in the new task.

Keyword filtering, particularly when used in conjunction with Saved Views, gives a powerful means of organising tasks; for example, a text keyword in the task's Note could be a project tag. All tasks associated with a particular project can then be easily isolated. This provides a workaround to the PalmOS limitation of only fifteen named categories. Note that the Shortcuts within the Palm's Prefs can be utilised to speed up text entry. The menu command "Duplicate Item" may also be helpful here.

Checking for matching text in tasks' Descriptions and Notes is more computationally intensive than checking, say, the priority flag, and so refresh rates may be slower for long lists of tasks. For greater efficiency, the "Exact case match" option should be checked, and the "Whole word match" option should be unchecked wherever possible.

Note that the Filter button on the main task list screen will be inverted when you have set a filter so that you have a visual reminder that filtering is active.

The "Reset" button on each filter tab dialog will restore the settings on the current tab so that no filtering is applied. The "Reset All" button restores the settings on all filter tabs, not just the current one.

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Enhanced Details

The Details screen gives full details of the currently selected task, including the task content. Also, as much as possible of the task description is written in the popup's title bar. Options below allow the task's Priority, Category and other details to be modified. Next to the Priority selection buttons is the sequential number of the current task, and the total task count within the current category.

A scrollable and editable text area shows the task content. If the task has an associated Note, then a Note icon is displayed to the right of the Note button. By hitting the Note icon, the task description text is replaced by the Note text, and the Note icon is modified to reflect this.

There are several ways to modify the Due Date of a task. The pull-down menu gives a number of "coarse grain" options, as well as the ability to pop up a calendar from which to select a date. Quick date refinement is achieved by means of the buttons to the right of the Due Date pull-down menu. The "+7" button advances the Due Date by seven days. Below this are three further buttons featuring a Left Arrow, a Diamond, and a Right Arrow. The Left Arrow button moves back the Due Date by a single day, whilst the Right Arrow advances the Due Date by a single day. The Diamond button has two operations: if the Due Date is currently set to "No Date", then the Diamond button will cause the Due Date to be set to today's date. If the Due Date is set to any date, not just today's date, then the Diamond button will cause the the Due Date to be set to "No Date".

For efficient task reviewing, whenever the Details screen is visible, the Palm's hard-key up and down buttons may be used to navigate to the previous and next tasks in the current category. If any changes have been made to the current task details, then a prompt will be shown asking whether the changes should be saved or ignored, before moving to the next or previous item. This prompt may be disabled (and any changes automatically saved) by checking its "Save without asking" checkbox. It can be re-activated from the Preferences menu item.

When the top or bottom of the task list is reached and the up or down button is pressed, a dialogue screen appears asking whether to return to the main list view.

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Saved Views

CanDo has many configuration options which control the way that tasks are shown. You might use different combinations of options for different purposes: for example you may prefer a "clean" view with no due dates as your daily task list; whereas you may show only future dated items together with their due dates for planning purposes.

Saved Views give you a quick way of saving and switching between whole groups of options (referenced by a view "name") with one or two taps rather than having to change all the filters, preferences, and display settings one by one. Note: some default Views are created when you first install CanDo. You can modify or delete these if you wish.

From the Saved Views dialog window, you can:

A startup category can be associated with each saved view. This defines which category is used when you switch into the view. "Use Existing Selection" will leave the current category unchanged. "Cycle to first available" will cycle to the first displayable category after or including the "All" category depending on the Key Cycling preferences for the view (e.g. if "Show All category" and "Show Empty categories" are unchecked then the first category containing tasks will be used). "Switch to" allows a specific category to be chosen, regardless of Key Cycling preferences.

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Umbrella Categories

Any of your normal categories can be designated as an "umbrella" category. Umbrella categories are used to group together sets of related categories in a single list for easier viewing.

The only exception that that the "All" category cannot be an umbrella, since it is already an umbrella for all of the other categories. Umbrella categories have a single parent category and at least one child category. Any category, apart from the "All" category, may be an umbrella parent category and may also be a child in another umbrella category.

A child may have more than one parent category. This useful feature of umbrella categories means that they can be used to "share" categories between list views.

For example, you might set up separate categories for tasks related to the @Home, @Garden, @Office, and @Internet. The @Home category can be set to be an umbrella parent category, with @Garden and @Internet as its umbrella children. The screen on the left shows how the umbrella dialog (accessed from the Options menu) was used to set up the parent and child categories. Then, when the @Home category is displayed, items in the children categories are also displayed. The @Office category could be set to be an umbrella category, with @Internet as its sole child category. Then @Internet tasks will be shown when @Home or @Office is the current category. This allows task lists to be specifically tailored to particular contexts, such as location in this example.

On the main list view, a "U" button is shown next to the category name (at the top of the screen) if it is an umbrella category. Umbrella category lists will honour the "Show categories" option, normally used only when the All category is shown. The "Show Categories" option is accessed from the Task List tab of the Display Settings dialog. The "Key Cycling" tab contains the option "Show umbrella children", which, if not checked, means that a category will not be shown when cycling with the hard key, if it is a child of another umbrella parent catetory.

To allow a more detailed examination of an umbrella category and its contents, "locked cycling" has been provided. This is enabled by clicking on the "U" button at the top of the main task list, so that it is shown in reverse video. The effect of hard-key cycling then is to cycle solely through the parent and child categories of that umbrella category. In the above example, locked cycling under the @Home umbrella category would cycle round the individual @Home, @Garden, and @Internet categories.

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Global Preferences

CanDo global preferences are accessed from the menu bar (under the "Options" menu item). These preferences apply regardless of the current saved view.

"Show View Name" will show the current view name in the title bar. If not checked then "Tasks" is shown.

"Show Item Count" displays the number of items in the list next to the category name.

"Record Completion Date" has the same behaviour as the built-in To Do application: it will update the task due date when it is marked complete. Don't forget though -- as with other preferences, this setting is saved as part of the current View. If you switch Views then the behaviour defined by the current "Record Completion Date" setting will be used.

"Lo Priority for New Items" controls the priority value that is assigned to new items. If it is checked then new items will be created with the "lowest" priority -- in the sense that highest means 1 and lowest means 5. For example, tasks will be created as priority 5 (provided that priority is visible in the current filter) as opposed to the normal behaviour of the built-in To Do application which always creates priority 1 items.

"Save When Move to Next" will automatically save changes when moving between items using the hard-key up/down buttons in the details dialogue.

"Use L/R to Move Cursor" (shown on devices with 5-way navigator and form navigation only) will allow the left / right keys to move the cursor left / right in text fields.

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Row Shading

The standard display style for list views (underling using dots) can be changed so that alternate rows are shaded with a background style.

The background style can be changed by tapping on the "Style" label in the "View Settings" dialog.

The "View Settings" dialog is accessed from the "Options" menu.

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Navigator and Jog Dial

Key Mappings are provided for standard PDA devices as follows:

5-way Navigator Mappings are supported as follows:

(*) On devices with form navigation the cursor can be moved left / right in the text field if the "Use L/R to Move Cursor" Global Preference is enabled.

Jog Dial Mappings are supported as follows:

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Installation is straightforward and follows the standard process as for other third-party Palm applications. Refer to your Palm documentation for further information. The basic steps are:
  1. Unzip the CanDo distribution file into a temporary folder.
  2. Run the Palm install tool.
  3. Press the "Add" button and navigate to the CanDo.prc file.
  4. HotSync your device.

Note: it is highly recommended that you back up your handheld device prior to installation. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the reliability of this application it has not been possible to test it on every combination of hardware device and operating system version. It is your responsibility to protect yourself against possible data loss or corruption.

Following installation, it is recommended that you associate the CanDo application with one of the hardware keys (buttons) on your handheld device so that you can take advantage of the additional key cycling features that CanDo supports.

To associate CanDo with a hardware key:

  1. Run the system "Prefs" application and select the "Buttons" drop-down menu in the upper right corner.
  2. Locate the key that you wish to use (normally the one that is mapped to the built-in To Do List application).
  3. Pick the CanDo application from the drop-down list.

Note: if you use any third-party programs to map hardware keys (for example AppHack) then you may need to update the settings for them too. CanDo has been tested with AppHack but may not work work correctly with other utilities.

CanDo can be removed from your handheld using the standard uninstall process for deleting an application. Note: removal of CanDo will permanently delete the saved views you have set up however the task data will remain accessible by the built-in To Do application.

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CanDo is distributed as Shareware. You will be prompted with a reminder to register the software after you have been using it for around 30 days.

You may remove the reminder by paying for a registration code (visit www.elkasoft.com for details) and entering the code into the registration dialog. This dialog is accessed by navigating to the "About CanDo..." item under the "Options" menu then pressing the "Register..." button.

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Hints and Tips

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Further Information

We welcome your feedback and suggestions for new features in CanDo. Please contact us at support@elkasoft.com. If you are reporting a defect then please include details of your operating system version, CanDo version, and handheld type.

Elkasoft is a specialist software company based in London, UK. We are committed to providing the tool of choice for task list management. Further information on CanDo and Elkasoft are available from www.elkasoft.com.

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$Revision: 1.6 $, $Date: 2007/08/04 18:25:15 $

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