Perspective not showing some projects

I have a perspective where I want to see all projects that have a certain tag.

The rules are as follows:

All of the following:
   Availability: Available
   Tagged with any of: Lighthouse
   None of the following:
      Is not a project or group

The perspective shows most of the projects with my Lighthouse tag.

However, there are some projects with the Lighthouse tag that do not show up.

These projects show up in the perspective only when I change the Availability to “Remaining.”

These projects are active, have no defer or due date, do not repeat, are parallel projects, have been reviewed recently, have no estimated duration, and either have active tasks in them or have no tasks in them.

I might have changed some of these projects from single action projects to parallel action projects but I don’t remember, and I don’t know if that’s important at all.

I am scratching my head as to why they don’t show up in this simple perspective.


Worth noting: This perspective only shows projects that contain at least one available action tagged with Lighthouse.

Is the goal is to show the available tasks within any project that is itself tagged with Lighthouse? If so, I’d probably suggest putting those projects in a folder and filtering on that instead.

Thank you for the reply.

I am new to OmniFocus so I am still getting used to how things work in it and its philosophies.

My goal with this particular perspective was to see a straight-up list of the projects that have the Lighthouse tag. It is not important for me to see the actions inside of these projects.

After reading your response I checked if any of these missing projects did not have an action tagged with Lighthouse.

This led me to see that I actually made this perspective in a bit of a hacky way.

My perspective excludes actions and only shows projects or groups (that are tagged with Lighthouse), and then sorts the perspective by Entire Projects. These rules resulted in a perspective that showed a list of projects that, when expanded, did not show any actions in them, which fit what I wanted.

However, as I explained, there were some projects missing.

It turns out that all the Lighthouse-tagged projects that had Lighthouse-tagged actions in them were not shown in the perspective, and all the Lighthouse-tagged projects that were empty (no actions at all) were shown in the perspective.

This seems to be some strange edge case behavior. I tried thinking of why this happens logically but I think this is more how OmniFocus is coded internally. Here is everything that I observed:

  1. As I’ve already said, projects and actions with the tag don’t show up in the perspective, but projects with the tag that are empty do show up.

  2. When I get rid of the “None of the following” rule and everything below it, the perspective shows all the Lighthouse-tagged projects and actions, with the actions sorted under their appropriate projects, so doing this solves my issue and gives me my desired result.

  3. When I sort by Individual Actions and get rid of the “None of the following” rule, the perspective shows only the empty projects and any actions tagged with Lighthouse, but the projects themselves that have actions in them are not shown and are not available for some reason.

Again, I tried thinking of the logical reasons why this behavior occurs, but I’m still stumped. These are the questions I was thinking about:

  • In the first option, why do empty projects show up but projects with actions don’t?
  • How come changing the view to “Remaining” shows these projects, which are available projects and that have available, tagged actions within them?
  • How come a tagged project, in the third option, doesn’t show up in the perspective, and only shows the actions of that tagged project, while simultaneously showing tagged projects that are empty? The behavior seems to be: if the tagged project has actions, show the tagged actions only, and if it does not have actions, only then show the tagged project. Which leads me to ask:
  • Am I misunderstanding something about OmniFocus tags? I would expect that anything with a tag will be shown in a perspective looking for that tag, but there seems to be some sort project-action hierarchy involved with tags.

The reason I am asking all of this, even though I solved my original issue in the second option, is because I am curious to understand OmniFocus more, but also because I want to make another perspective, sorted by Individual Actions (so I cannot use my previous solution which grouped by Entire Projects), with a rule that hides all actions tagged with Lighthouse but shows all projects, as items, tagged with Lighthouse. Is there any possible way to achieve this?

What happens if you use:

All of the following:
Availability: Available
Tagged with any of: Lighthouse

with the same presentation settings
That should show all projects with that tag that have available tasks in them.

And if you want to show remaining items as well you could change “available” to “remaining” on a case by case basis.

(I only use “Is not a project or group” to filter projects from actions lists myself)

– edit –

re-read your second part, and you’d already got here yourself

This is one of the reasons I do not tag projects, only tasks/actions.
Since you cannot “Do” a project, tagging them makes no sense to me.

I only want to see empty projects in my weekly review, and they show up in my “no further action” perspective.

Why would you want that? I’ve re-read this piece a few times now, and can’t begin to find a use case for this.

Custom perspectives first filter all the items in your database according to your rules, then display the resulting set according to the ‘Presentation’ settings.

The items to be filtered are the actions, action groups, and projects — in this situation the project is like a top-level action group.

If you use ‘Availability: Available’, project items (and action groups) will only be included if they contain no items which haven’t yet been completed or dropped (ie. contain no remaining items).

@Mat Therefore the closest you can get to your objective of a list of projects having a certain tag is to use your perspective rules with ‘Remaining’ instead of ‘Available’, as you figured out. In the results, you will have to collapse the projects to hide any ‘remaining’ action groups which have the tag. I suggest you also include a ‘Has a project which is active’ rule — this will exclude projects which have the on-hold status (since you said you were looking at active projects; on-hold items are included by the ‘remaining’ condition).

Finally, in the presentation settings, the ‘Entire Projects’ label is slightly confusing. It doesn’t actually return the entire contents of any project; it displays all the parent items (action groups, projects, and folders) of the items returned by the perspective rules, arranged according to the hierarchy. This is actually very useful since you get a ‘pruned’ version of your OF project hierarchy down to the items which match the perspective’s rules. (It’s why you weren’t seeing some tagged projects when the rule was ‘Available’ and you selected ‘Individual Actions’. Those projects were not items returned by the rules. However they happened to be parent projects of actions that were returned, so they were displayed with the ‘Entire Projects’ setting.)

Currently there is the ‘Is not a project or group’ rule. Several members of the community have suggested adding a ‘Is a project’ rule since getting a list of just projects is something people have said they want to do. Maybe this is something Omni could consider for future enhancements.

Thank you for the replies! They are extremely helpful and clarifying — I appreciate it. I understand Omnifocus more now.

@Janov The original reason I wanted that perspective was to try a sort of overview perspective, like a “Do this soon” perspective that shows everything important in one view (overdue, due soon, flagged), but also have a list of projects that I have marked with Lighthouse, which are just projects I’d like to be reminded of and see all in one place. This was just something I wanted to try, and this sort of philosophy will probably change as I work more with OmniFocus, since it seems to be more “proper” — and probably more helpful — to instead see available actions and not just lists of projects that may or may not have any available actions in them.

In fact, after trying the perspective, I actually find that its behavior of showing the empty projects, and showing only the actions of the non-empty projects, is acceptable. If I want to see all of the Lighthouse projects, I can use the original perspective I was talking about, that just looks for the tag and sorts by Entire Projects. So I would say that question is resolved.

@MultiDim Thank you for the clarifications and tips. Your explanation is very comprehensive and more than I could have asked for. I’ll probably be coming back many times to read it when confused about something. I would like a “Is a project” rule myself — however, after learning more, I have been able to get something that is completely acceptable.

To everyone who replied and helped out, thank you again!

@Mat You’re welcome, and thanks for the follow-up; I’m glad it was helpful to you.

May I suggest you read the following thread where we discussed an alternative approach to tags for marking a set of projects as being important in some way.

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