The Kizby Guide

This document serves as a guide to getting started with Kizby, the advanced information management tool created by Manumitting Technologies.

Please direct any questions or errors found in this document, or with Kizby itself, to our support page found at http://support.kizby.com.

Last revised: Feb 23, 2011

About Kizby

Kizby is a personal information management tool. Kizby provides means for capturing and organizing information relating to projects, tasks, journal entries, and notes.

In Kizby, tasks are organized as part of a project. The project represents a goal, a finished (or semi-finished) chunk of work, and the tasks are steps to achieve that goal. Kizby also provides means for linking tasks and projects together to form dependencies.

Journal entries are used to capture intended information about work-in-the-moment, whereas notes are for capturing long-term knowledge. Journal entries and notes may be linked to a project. External resources, such as web pages (URLs) and files, can be added through use of drag-and-drop, though this feature is only available in particular packages.

Kizby currently can import and synchronize projects and tasks from a Toodledo.com account.

Installation

Note: Should you encounter any problems in installing or using Kizby, please do not hesitate to contact us using any of our support mechanisms described towards the end of this document. We want to help!

Kizby is licensed as a subscription-based service (also called software as a service or SaaS). This means that customers pay a small amount for each month of use rather than pay a large upfront cost with inevitable upgrade fees. You will be prompted to sign up as a potential customer as part of installing Kizby. There is no risk to this signup: if you chose not to continue with Kizby at the end of the trial period, your account will be terminated. We won't have any personal details other than your name and email address.

To get started, visit the Kizby website at http://kizby.com and select the download link (found in the upper right part of the page). This page lists versions for several different operating systems; download the variant appropriate for your operating system.

Having downloaded Kizby, you will need to install it:

Once installed, start Kizby. Please note that this process requires a connection to the internet. You should be prompted with a registration screen:

Kizby registration wizard

Provide your registration details and then select Next. If the Next button is unavailable, then there is a problem with some of the information provided. The following example shows feedback from trying to create a new registration for an already-registered email address:

Kizby registration wizard

In this particular case, Brian should select the "Existing User" tab and provide his email address and password from his previous registration.

The next screen will prompt you for the package that you wish to trial (note: your screen may be slightly different to the image shown here):

Kizby registration wizard

Select the package that you wish to register for and then select Finish to complete the registration and installation.

At this point, Kizby will download and install product updates corresponding to the package that you have selected. Kizby will restart upon completion.

An Overview of Kizby

This section provides a cursory overview of using Kizby, concentrating on the user interface elements. The next section dives into more detail on Kizby.

When you start Kizby, you will see a single window called "Projects and Tasks". This window is the primary interface for working with Kizby's project and task management. There are other windows corresponding to other areas of Kizby's functionality available through the Window menu.

You can create new projects, tasks, journal entries, and notes through the File → New menu; these actions are also bound to keyboard shortcuts. You can typically edit an item by double-clicking on it, or through the item's context menu, usually obtained by right-clicking on the item. Items can often be linked through your operating system's drag and drop functionality, as described in more detail further below.

The Projects and Tasks Window

Kizby's Projects and Tasks window is the primary interace for working with projects and tasks.

At the top is a toolbar listing Kizby's 3 perspectives, "Dashboard", "Plan", and "Archives". Each perspective corresponds to a different way of viewing your project information; we cover these perspectives in more detail shortly.

The Dashboard

The Dashboard provides a cross-project views of your tasks by a number of different criteria such as date, status, or by tags.

Today
The queries in the Today category are very useful to see what tasks you should work on today. It provides queries for listing the tasks starting today, that are due today, the tasks that are ongoing (i.e., those whose start date has past), tasks that are overdue, and the tasks that were finished today.
Upcoming
The queries in the Upcoming category are useful to see what tasks are coming up for the rest of this work week and next week.
Review
The queries in the Upcoming category are useful to see what tasks were recently completed. The Changed Today query shows the tasks that were modified today.

The lamp bubbles provide an indicator of how many tasks match particular criteria:

lamp bubbles
Grey
The number of completed tasks (generally only seen in the Review category).
Red
The number of overdue tasks
Blue-Grey
The number of active tasks

The dashboard operates against a slice of the available tasks, as defined by a set of filters. These filters can be configured by right-clicking on the left-hand pane and choosing Configure Filters.

The Planning Perspective

The Planning perspective provides for more traditional project/task planning. The perspective defaults to showing current projects, meaning those projects that are not marked as being completed, abandoned, or cancelled.

These projects selected by a set of filters similar to the Dashboard. The filters can be configured by right-clicking on the left-hand pane and choosing Configure Filters.

The view on the left displays the list of projects and subprojects. The view on the top right shows the tasks in the currently selected project. The views at the bottom right show various types of details about either the selected projects or tasks. By default the views showing tasks and projects use a special sort described below. The "Journal" view shows journal entries linked to the selected project or task; the "Details" view shows the information recorded in the selected project or task.

The Archives Perspective

The Archives perspective is effectively the same as the Planning perspective but with filters to view projects that have been archived, abandoned, or cancelled.

The Journal Window

The Journal window provides a simple interface for viewing, editing, and creating new journal entries. Journal entries can be scoped down by their project or tags. Journal entries must have their changes explicitly saved with Control-S (or ⌘-S on MacOS X).

The journalling functionality is not available in the Kizby Budget package

The Notes Window

The Notes window provides for viewing, editing, and creating new notes. Creating a new note will open this window automatically. Notes can be viewed grouped by their status, contexts, or tags, or linked projects. Notes can be viewed or edited by double clicking; if changed, the changes must be explicitly saved with Control-S (or ⌘-S on MacOS X). A note can also be deleted with the Delete key.

The note-taking functionality is not available in the Kizby Budget package

More on Tasks and Projects

Tasks and projects are very similar, but there are some differences. Both have a start and due date, a status, an assessment of difficulty, an estimated duration, a context, a location, and some tags. Tasks also record their completion date.

Kizby provides for capturing a rich set of information about about a project or task (often called metadata). This information can then be used for narrowing down a set of particular tasks. For example, you might like to see the tasks that should be done at the bank. Or you might like to see the tasks that were completed over this past week. These queries are possible providing the task and project metadata is properly captured.

Sorting of Projects and Tasks

The various views showing projects and tasks are usually sorted by a special sort algorithm. This algorithm does not use any single field, but combines information to provide a more meaningful ordering. The algorithm has the following characteristics:

Project and Task Status Settings

Kizby provides for recording the current status for a task and project.

Kizby provides the following possible status settings for a task:

Tentative
this task is still being decided upon
Ready
this task is ready to be worked on
Active
this task is being worked on (likely to be renamed to In Progress)
Deferred
this task has been deferred to a later date
Delegated
someone else is responsible for this task (in the future, there will be a facility to say who is responsible)
Waiting
this task is pending upon some action or response being received (e.g., being contacted
Blocked
the task has been blocked for some reason, and cannot continue until the blockage has been resolved
Someday
this task cannot be completed at the moment, but may be revisited someday
Abandoned
this task has been abandoned by the owner and will not be acted upon
Cancelled
this task has been cancelled by someone else

Projects support a similar set of status value, and adds one new value:

Archived
This project has been completed and is now archived

These possible settings makes it very easy to quickly focus on a particular sets of particular tasks -- what tasks are waiting on some event? What tasks have been delegated to other people?

Other Task and Project Settings

Projects and tasks also provide for recording other useful information. Tasks and projects can be associated with a location and context. The location is usually used to indicate where the task is to be completed, such as at a computer, or requires a phone, or perhaps at a reference library. The context is useful for associating tasks or projects with a particular purpose or goal (e.g., work, church, or a volunteer effort). Projects and tasks can also be tagged using useful keywords.

Linking Tasks and Projects

Tasks and projects can be linked to each other to indicate dependencies through your operating system's drag and drop facilities. To link a task A to another task B to indicate that A depends on B having been done, simply drag A onto B. Ensure the cursor indicates that it is in linking mode (see Appendix A for details).

After performing a link, the task A should show that it depends on B.

Tasks can also be linked to projects, and projects linked to other projects.

To remove a dependency, edit the task with the dependency, and click on the stylized "X" in the "Depends On" section of the task editor.

Be aware that the default drop operation onto a project causes the dragged task or project to be moved to the dropped project; be sure to check that your mouse pointer indicates a link operation. Tasks can also be copied onto a project too.

Other Features

Journal Entries

Journal entries are intended to capture information that is of a temporal nature, much like a log book. Journal entries have a date and time, and can also be tagged with useful keywords. A journal entry can also be linked to a particular project.

The journalling functionality is not available in the Kizby Budget package

Notes

Notes are intended to capture defined or synthesized information, and whose content will be revisited at later points as new information is discovered. This intent is different from a journal entry which records what has occurred or what is known at a particular time.

Notes do not have an explicit date and time, but rather reference their last modification date. Notes can be tagged with useful keywords. Notes also provide for recording the current state of the note; some helpful defaults have been defined, but new states can also be added. Like tasks and projects, notes can also be associated with a context. Notes can be linked to a particular task or project.

The note-taking functionality is not available in the Kizby Budget package

Linking and Associating Resources

Kizby supports linking URLs and files to particular items. Typically this is done using your operating system's drag and drop facilities: simply drag a file or URL marker onto the appropriate item in Kizby.

URLs can be dragged from your browser's URL bar and dropped either on the item directly (e.g., the particular task, project, note, or journal item as shown in a list) or onto the Links part of the entry. Consider the following example:

In this example, a new drinks link could be dragged either onto the Find cocktail mix recipes task shown in the upper pane, or into the Links box alongside the existing link to Top 20 Drink and Cocktail Recipes.

Files can be dragged in a near-identical manner. Files can be dropped in one of three ways, however: they can be linked, copied, or moved, as determined by use of the shift, control, or alt keys:

You can double click the link to open it in your default browser.

The linking functionality is not available in the Kizby Budget package

Tags

Kizby provides strong support for tagging items with descriptive user-driven keywords. Tags can have spaces, but otherwise should be devoid of punctuation characters.

Tags can be selected and deleted with the Delete key. An tag can be modified either by double clicking on the tag or by selecting the tag and hitting Space. New tags can be added simply by double-clicking on some space outside of an existing tag, or ensuring the tag widget has the keyboard focus and simply typing.

The set of tags can be modified through the Kizby's preferences.

Adding Multiple Tasks

Kizby includes two workflows for quickly adding a set of tasks from a single dialog. The Add Multiple Tasks... command allows adding multiple tasks as specified by a single-line text description. The Finish and Follow-Up... command marks the currently selected task as finished and adds the specified tasks as follow-up tasks.

Both commands provide for filling in task fields through specially formatted keywords. Consider the following task description:

The 'Add Multiple Tasks...' dialog

Clicking "Ok" would result in the creation of a task "Talk to Fred re: scheduling" marked at top-priority, starting tomorrow, due in two days, estimated duration of 10 minutes, with tag "fred", and location set to "office".

The special keywords must appear as suffixes at the end of the textual specification. The following keywords and formats are supported:

! !! increase priority to high and top
* mark as starred
^dt or start:dt set start date; see below for dt format
=dt or due:dt set due date; see below for dt format
~mins set expected duration in minutes
@loc set location
%ctxt set context

Start and due dates can be specified as:

today for today
yesterday for yesterday
tomorrow for tomorrow
+1, +5d or -3d for X days (trailing d can be omitted)
+1w for X weeks of (adds multiples of 7 days) [positive numbers only]
mon, tuesday for specified day (e.g., following Monday from today)
nm for first day of the next month
nw for first workday of next week
2011/01/31 or 20110131 for absolute date
01/31 or 0131 for month/day in the current year
jan-31 or jan31 for month/day in the current year

The Add Multiple Tasks... (CtrlAltT or T on MacOS X) and Finish and Follow-Up... (CtrlAltF or F on MacOS X) are available through the Tasks menu or from keybord shortcut:

Filtering

Most of the Kizby windows support a filter box in the top-right corner:

The filter-box provides for quickly filtering the currently visible contents of the current window for the text provided. The box can be selected with a hotkey ControlF (or F on MacOS X).

Searching

Kizby provides a Search window to enable searching for all and any elements containing a particular text string. Currently the search looks for exact occurrences of the words provided. The search functionality is started from Window → Search or via CtrlAltS (or S on MacOS X).

Kizby Search window

Setting Preferences

Kizby features a number of preferences for adjusting its behaviour, accessible through Window → Preferences on Windows and Linux, or Kizby → Preferences or , on MacOS X.

The preferences pages also provide pages for managing many user-defined fields, such as the locations, contexts, and tags. These pages allow renaming, merging, or deleting values.

Importing or Synchronizing with Toodledo.com

Kizby currently can import projects and tasks from a Toodledo.com account. You can access this through File → Import. The Kizby Budget package only supports importing from Toodledo; the other packages support two-way synchronization.

Tips for Kizby

This section presents a few tips for making good use of Kizby, and task planning in general. We recommend that you visit and subscribe to the Kizby blog at blog.kizby.com for more tips and details, or share with other Kizby users on the Kizby Forums found at support.kizby.com.

Creating Good Tasks

There is a difference between a good, actionable task and bad, vague tasks. The best advice I've seen for creating good task and project descriptions are:

You might like to see the following sites for more ideas and approaches:

Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows/LinuxMacOS XDescriptions
CtrlP P New project
CtrlT T New task
CtrlN N New note (opens Notes window)
CtrlL L New journal entry
CtrlF F Find / filter (added 2011/02/10)
CtrlAltF F Finish current task and add follow-ups (changed 2011/02/10)
CtrlAltT T Add several tasks to same project
CtrlAltP P Transform current task into a project and prompt for new tasks
Alt[ [ Promote current project (move up a level)
Alt] ] Demote current project (move down a level)

Known Bugs

Support and Feedback

Please send all and any feedback either by email to support@kizby.com or through the Kizby support site at support.kizby.com.

Appendix: Drag-and-Drop

MacOS X, Windows, and Linux all support a useful form of interaction called drag-and-drop (or DND). This allows expressing some kinds of UI operations by dragging one or more UI elements onto another element. There are typically 3 types of DND operations, indicated by a change in the mouse cursor:

Operation Windows MacOS X Linux
Linking mouse pointer when linking on Windows mouse pointer when linking on MacOS X mouse pointer when linking on Linux/GTK
Copying mouse pointer when copying on Windows mouse pointer when copying on MacOS X mouse pointer when copying on Linux
Moving mouse pointer when moving on Windows mouse pointer when moving on MacOS X mouse pointer when moving on Linux

You may need to use a key modifier, such as holding down the Shift, Alt, or Ctrl keys, or some combination, to change between these operations.

Acknowledgments

Open-Source Projects

Kizby has been built with a number of open-source products, including:

Individuals

Thanks to Davor Cubranic for very helpful feedback with earlier versions of Kizby.