Projects/Focus

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Focus enables you to work and study more productively by removing distractions on the desktop and Internet.

Contents

Preamble

A few notes before getting started.

Plasma Activities

Disclaimer: A similar function (activity management) is being developed in Plasma. While the feature sets of Focus and Plasma Activities are not distinct, the basic rationale is.

Focus is fundamentally designed to be a distraction eliminator. Whereas, Plasma Activities provide a means to associate a set of windows, plasmoids, documents with a particular activity.

There is overlap in these visions, and ideally the two can come together to offer a complete activity and distraction management solution for the KDE desktop.

Document's Purpose

This document's function is two fold:

  • Design and Planning Document
  • Brain Dump - assist the author in organizing his thoughts regarding activity/distraction management

Requirements Analysis

Root Concept

Increase productivity by eliminating distractions from the desktop.

Basic Rationale

The desktop and the Internet while providing new tools and methods for increasing our productivity, have introduced near an infinite number of new means to distract ourselves and consequently decrease our net productivity.

People can focus on their task-at-hand better when potential distractions are removed. Better focus leads to more work done, and hence, greater productivity.

Stakeholder group

Procrastinators The procrastinator is adept at finding ways to put off his work. Focus creates an environment where finding things to do on the computer outside the defined activity is difficult to do.
Un-Concentrators Many people have problems concentrating on demand (such as ADHD sufferers), and unintentionally waste their time on irrelevant tasks (surfing, watching videos, etc.). Focus makes it more difficult for them to accidentally waste time by removing distractions and leaving the user with little else to do but his task.

Note: Focus is not claiming it can "cure" the focus symptoms ADHD sufferers tend to exhibit, rather it should be considered an aid to forcing concentration (if possible).

The Overworked These people have an impossibly long todo list, they must manage their time down to the minute each day in order to complete their tasks. Focus provides an easy means of time tracking and distraction elimination to maximize productivity.

Sample Stakeholder Profiles

Eric - 22 - The Procrastinator

Eric is a pretty typical college student at a major US university. By the time Eric reached college, he was already an expert at avoiding the inevitable. "Oh, I'll get to it," he says, and most of the time he does. He gets it done, but not without a constant and looming pressure that builds until, the night before. He crams, sometimes all night long, in order to finish on time. The result is seldom his best work. "Was it worth it?", he asks himself. "Not a chance." What does he say when the next project comes around? "Oh, I'll get to it."

The majority of Eric's assignments and projects must be done on his personal laptop. Whether it be a paper for his Psychology 101 class; a one page reading response for Literature 215; or an online quiz for Linear Algebra, they all require him to use his computer.

Olivia - 30 - The Un-Concentrator

Olivia is the founding editor for a very successful online weblog. She has won many distinguished awards from her work both online as a blogger, and offline as an author. She is considered the foremost independent voice on the technology efforts of many web titans. Her writing has appeared in the many leading publications such as Stanford Business Study, Wireless, Computer World and Macintosh magazines. A popular and in-demand public speaker, Olivia has given many feature presentations and keynote speeches at first-tier events such as Technology 2.0 Expo. A reputable company awarded her "Most Influential Women in Technology".

Problem Scenarios

Eric

Toward the beginning of his third semester Eric has to write a medium length paper for his Psychology class. The professor is requiring them to make use of several online resources. Before he can begin writing the paper, he must research his assigned prompt using the online resources. Eric begins with pure intentions. He's queued up a playlist of lyric-less music that helps him concentrate, he's turned off his cell phone, and even exited out of non-study related websites (Facebook, digg.com, etc). He works well for about 15 minutes when, suddenly, a notification pops up on his screen. It is a new email message -- Eric forgot to turn off his email client, because it runs in the background -- from a friend with a link to a funny YouTube video. He looks at the time, considers how much work he's done then tells himself, "I've done quite a bit, I could use a break." He clicks on the link and begins watching the video, he loves it and realizes one of his other friends would likely enjoy it too. He opens Facebook and shares it with the friend, and sees he has 8 unread notifications...

Olivia

Olivia sits down to write a new article for her weblog. Suddenly something she had been thinking of earlier pops into her head, "I wonder if anyone at Ask Metafilter knows good software for making screencasts." A few clicks later she exclaims, "Oh look, someone's had a traumatic breakup!" Several hours later, an article has yet to be written and she is feeling pretty guilty.

Activity Design

Activity above refers to the design phase where basic concepts and services of the system are reasoned out, with the end goal of specifying system functionality.

Entities

Activity

An Activity is simply a set of Actions that are performed upon activity activation.

An Activity will consist of the following data:

  • Name
  • Icon (optional)
  • List of Actions
  • Default focus time (minutes)

Action

An Action is an abstract type that encapsulates a single state to be instituted on the user's computer. Actions are distinct and will typically execute some sort of command.

An Action will consist of the following data:

  • Name
  • Description
  • Activation Effect - state entered upon focus operation start (optional)
  • Focusing Effect - state maintained throughout focus operation (optional)
  • Deactivation Effect - state entered upon focus operation end (optional)

Note: At least one type of effect is required.

Tasks

List Activities

Type: Primary Screen

The MainWindow of the application. Consists of a simple list of previously created Activities and some Actions.

Elements:

  • List of created Activities
    • Name
    • Action Count
    • Icon
    • Focus Action

Actions:

  • #Create_Activity - creates a new activity
  • #Edit_Activity - changes existing activity (requires selected activity)
  • Delete Activity - remove an activity (requires selected activity)
  • #Focus_on_Activity - start focusing on an activity (requires selected activity)

Create Activity

Type: Secondary Screen Activation: "Create New Activity" from #List_Activities

The primary member of an Activity is the list of Actions, therefore creating this list of actions should be the main focus of this task.

Elements:

  • Field for setting the name
  • Icon view
  • A list of possible actions and their descriptions
  • A list of actions currently assigned to this Activity

Actions:

  • Setting Icon - opens a dialog to set the activity's icon
  • Assigning an Action - add an action to the assigned actions list
  • Editing assigned action's properties
  • Removing assigned actions

Edit Activity

Type: Secondary Screen Activation: "Edit Activity" from #List_Activities

This task is very similar to the Create Activity task, however the elements will be populated with the selected Activity's data.

See #Create_Activity

Focus on Activity

Type: Secondary Screen Activation: "Focus" from #List_Activities

The visual representation of this task will be the selected Activity's name and Icon, as well as a countdown timer and a slider to change the Focus time.

Elements:

  • Activity Name
  • Icon
  • Countdown Timer
  • Slider

Actions:

  • Done Focusing - end focus operation, return to #List_Activities
  • Slide Focus length - change the length of the focus operation

Actions

#Actions are the most fundamental components in Focus, and have the potential to do anything. Here are some descriptions of possible actions.

Launch Applications

Name: Launch Applications
Description:Launch any applications needed to complete the activity

Elements:

  • List of applications to open
    • Focus if already running (CheckBox)
    • Send to virtual desktop #
  • After launching: Hide all others, Quit all others, Nothing (ComboBox)


Actions:

  • Add Application
  • Remove Application

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Runs every application in the list, and performs the "After launching" option None None

Quit Applications

Name: Quit Applications
Description: Quit applications if they are running.

Elements:

  • List of applications to quit
  • Launch application when done focusing (CheckBox)
  • Block application from being started (CheckBox)

Actions:

  • Add Application
  • Remove Application

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Quits every application in the list if it is running. Prevents applications from being started in the list that have "Block from being started" enabled Launches applications in the list that have "Launch when done" enabled

Open Document or Folder

Name: Open Document or Folder
Description: Opens the supplied document or folder

Elements:

  • File Chooser
  • Icon view
  • Current file name

Actions:

  • Choose file/folder

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Open the document/folder None None

Open Websites

Name: Open Websites
Description: Opens the supplied websites

Elements:

  • List of websites
  • Open with <Browser list> (combobox)
  • Open in tabs (checkbox)

Actions:

  • Add website
  • Remove website

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Opens the specified websites (in tabs if specified) None None

Block Websites

Name: Block Websites
Description: Blocks the specified websites

Elements:

  • List of domains
  • Open with <Browser list> (combobox)
  • Open in tabs (checkbox)

Actions:

  • Add individual website
  • Add website group
  • Remove website

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Closes the specified websites if they are open. Blocks the domains from being accessed None

Run Script

Name: Run Script
Description: Runs the supplied script

Elements:

  • Text area
  • Script interpreter (combobox)
  • On Focus (checkbox)
  • On Done Focusing (checkbox)

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Runs the script if "On Focus" is checked None Runs the script if "On Done Focusing" is checked

Change IM Status

Name: Change IM Status
Description: Change your status message in your IM Client

Elements:

  • IM Application (combobox)
  • On Focus
    • Set Status (combobox)
    • Set Message (text field)
  • On Done Focusing
    • Set Status (combobox)
    • Set Message (text field)

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Set IM status and message None Set IM status and message

Play Music (Amarok)

Name: Play Music
Description: Start playing a songs or a playlist in Amarok

Elements:

  • What to play: Artist, Album, Playlist (combobox)
  • List of the above (with checkboxes)
  • Send Amarok to the sys tray (checkbox)
  • Repeat selection automatically (checkbox)
  • Stop when Focusing ends (checkbox

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Start playing the selected tracks/playlist, minimize amarok if checked Repeat if enabled. Stop if enabled.

Switch to Virtual Desktop

Name: Switch to Virtual Desktop
Description: Switches to the specified virtual Desktop

Elements:

  • Switch to desktop (combobox)
  • On Focus (checkbox)
  • On Focus done (checkbox)

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Switches to the selected desktop, if on focus is enabled None Switches to the selected desktop, if on focus done is enabled

Activate Plasma Activity

Name: Activate Plasma Activity
Description: Activate the specified Plasma Activity

Elements:

  • Activate activity (combobox)
  • On Focus (checkbox)
  • On Focus done (checkbox)

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
Activate the selected Activity, if on focus enabled None Activate the selected Activity, if on focus done enabled


Action

Name:
Description:

Elements:

Actions:

Effects:

Activation
Focusing
Deactivation
None None None

Roadmap

Milestone: Proof of Concept

Date: TBA

Goals:

Milestone: More Actions

Date: TBA

Goals:

Milestone: Scriptable Plugins

Date: TBA

Goals:

  • Plugin architecture for scriptable #Actions
  • GHNS integration

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