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A lighter touch on the dependency reins please

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 18:29:42 GMT

I read the [post](!/support/dependencies:two-types-of-dependency) by @trolden and wasn't able to quite follow his suggestion. I suspect I'm feeling the same pain points. I'd like to be able to set dependencies between events in the early stages of plot development, but I find that AT2 is asking for information that doesn't exist in my head yet. If I enter temporary values for start, duration and offset, it becomes difficult to work with events outside of the inspector. For now, I'm just avoiding the use of event dependency entirely in my writing project, or like trolden, using other tools for early planning and not using AT2 until later in the lifecycle the work. I'm not sure I agree with or follow what he says about "slack" but I think both project management and fictional timelines would benefit from a revised approach to dependency. First I hate that that AT2 automatically changes the start time of a dependent event when I enter a dependency from the inspector. From a user perspective, I think the offset should be unset. If I define the offset is zero, then, by all means, move my event to align with the "Based on" event. Otherwise, calculate the offset from the current delta between the events. I'm not sure why AT2 has different dependency behaviour when created from the inspector or the keyboard. Certainly, some information is best managed from the inspector, but when it comes to sliding events around in the timeline, I want to use the mouse. So my second point is that I want to be able to change the offset by dragging the dependent event. I understand that protecting the offset might be important in some cases, so add a modifier such as SHIFT to the drag, much the way ALT drag can be used to change event duration. If I drag a dependent event to the left, it should let me move it up to the point where I hit zero offset from the base event. I think negative offsets are special cases where it would be appropriate to just use the inspector. Negative offsets tend to be fixed relationships more related to project management. I think for writers a negative offset can be achieved simply by reversing the dependency direction. Third, I was a bit shocked to find that event dependency precedence defaults to alphabetical order where events have the same time/date values. I tried entering a series of events just using CMD N then selecting an order with the mouse and connecting them with SHIFT CMD D. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on. When OPTION clicking on events, it would very powerful if AT2 would remember the order or event selection. If I click on "Third Event" then "Fourth Event" then make them dependent, I don't what "Third" to be dependent on "Fourth" because of the event name. Using trolden's diagram, how awesome it would be to be able to click a chain of events A0, B0, B1, C2, A3, C3, A5, hit SHIFT CMD D and not end up with A0>A3>A5>B0>B1>C2>C3. It seems like a waste of time to have to enter a bunch of fake dates for related events just to get the daisy chain to work more predictably. Once I do enter the dates and chain the events, moving things around gets much more difficult. Hence the reason why I've been avoiding dependent events in AT2 until what is essentially going to be my final pass through events just before a structural edit. We're being asked for more information than we often have. Start, duration and offset may be largely unknown but we do know that "Timmy gets horse for birthday" comes before "Timmy falls off horse and breaks his arm" and a whole sequence of events triggered from his trip to the hospital. So if I need information in AT2 that I don't have, one of two things has to happen: I need to find a way to work around the missing information, or I need to hold off setting relationships until I understand their nuances. I think most of us will want to choose the first option. I do find myself trying to use AT2 too early in my writing process. For that, I blame Matt for making such a visually pleasing and fun program to use. So many of us are visual thinkers and we like to have nice things. After staring at the distraction-free mode of Scrivener for a few hours, it's so refreshing to jump into AT2.

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 02:34:25 GMT

Hi, You are correct in that at the moment Aeon Timeline is more set up for people who know the offsets between dependent events, ie. they know that a certain event has to be 3 months later than another. We agree that a shortcut to be able to move the dependent event (effectively changing the offset) would be useful, and will add it to our list of possible features to add in the future. In regards to using the order of selection for events to determine their dependencies, this becomes a UI issue, as there would be other cases (such as when users have selected different dates for their events) where there would nothing to indicate that it was the order of selection that determines the dependencies rather that the event dates. Again this is more set up for people who know either the dates of their events, or the offsets of their dependencies. The only way to work around that at the moment would be to add the dependencies one at a time. We are considering the possib ility of adding a more fuller constraints system in the long term which would allow more flexibility with dependencies and would probably help users with cases like yours. Jess

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 03:57:39 GMT

Thanks, Jess. I think if it were easier to move dependent events relevant to each other, the order of selection issue becomes much less relevant.