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Task Comments

Free-form text comments can be added to any task. Comments can be added in Simple Text, with no formatting. They can also be entered in Rich Text Format (RTF) with fonts, colors, styles, text sizing, images, tables, etc.

To move quickly back and forth between a task and its comment editor area, use the F11 key. See menu > View > “Toggle between Tasks and Comments”.

To choose the comment format, in the UI above the Comments input area, select Simple Text or Rich Text.

To set the default format for all new tasks, go to menu > Preferences > User Interface > Task Comments, and set “Preferred format”. The default format can be overridden for any task.

To choose the comment format for a single task, in the UI above the Comments input area, select Simple Text or Rich Text.

As with other attributes, to set the format for more than one task, Shift-select and/or Ctrl-select tasks, then set the format to apply to them all.

In those preference settings there are two other checkboxes:

  • Show comments even when tasklist is maximized
    • To “maximize” the tasklist, use menu > View > Maximize Tasklist, or Ctrl+M. This is not the same as maximizing the window, only the edit fields are removed to maximize the view of the tasks. However you may wish to see only the comments when you maximize.
  • Update all tasklists when the comments field is resized
    • The size of the edit area can be changed by dragging the separator between that area and the list of tasks. When the comments are to the left or right there is also a movable separator. See images below.
    • This setting allows for tasklist-specific sizing of the comments area.

The area of the tasklist can be maximized as described above with menu > View > Maximize Comments, or the default hotkey Ctrl+Shift+M.

Positioning and Stacking Comments Each user can configure the position of the edit area and comments to suit their preference. The locations of these screen areas is not fixed.

The location of the comments area can be set to Below the Tasklist (default), to the Right of the Tasklist, or to the Left. See menu > Preferences > User Interface > Task Comments > “Position comments”:

By default the comments are “stacked” with other field of the edit area. They share the same region and comments resize within that region. In different configurations, the edit area will always occupy whatever space it needs to display all edit fields, and the comments area will then resize to whatever space is left.

To change the stacking behaviour, set menu > Preferences > User Interface > Task Comments > General > 'Stack' edit fields and comments when the occupy the same position (left, right or below).

When on the left or right, stacked comments will appear on top of the edit area. Unstacked comments occupy the full window height just like the list of tasks and the edit area (if that is also to the side).

When below the tasklist, stacked comments display before (to the left of) the edit area and the width of the window is divided between them. Unstacked comments display below the edit area and occupy the full width of the window.

Pasting text into comments Some unusual behaviours have been documented when people paste text into comments, in both plain text and RTF. The most common way to copy/paste is Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. When a Copy is performed in some applications like browsers or word-processing tools, not just the plain text is saved but also the underlying control codes which format the text. This isn't a bug, it's a feature. The pasted result can be awkward in the ToDoList comments where even plain text has some formatting for URLs.

If you do copy from another tool and paste in to ToDoList, and the text does not come in as expected, try the following alternatives for that specific from/to pair:

  • Right-click for a context menu and Paste (should be same as Ctrl-V)
  • Shift-INS (that's the INSert key) This seems to remove web page HTML when pasting to plain text.
  • Ctrl-INS seems to paste only the text when the source is Microsoft Office Communicator 2007R2, or perhaps similar products.
  • Last resort: Paste into Notepad or another plain text editor, then copy that and paste to ToDoList. Do not use WordPad or another rich editor.

Images and other files in Rich Text To insert an image into the Rich Text comment area, just copy the image (not the file) and ctrl-V to paste it. The image will display in the rich text area. This action is ignored in a plain text comment field.

Images, files, and shortcuts saved into comments are referred to here as “objects”.

You can drag/drop an image file or any other file into the comment area. A list of options for the new object displays on drag/drop of a file into the comment area:

  • Link to the file using 'file://…name.ext'
    • The file:// path is shown in the comments. This is also what is seen in the XML COMMENTS tag in the .tdl file and exports.
    • Because file:// links are clickable, single-clicking this link will open the file using the current user's default application for that file extension.
    • A link is invalidated if the source file is moved, deleted, or renamed, or if the current user does not have network access to a file referenced by another user.
  • Embed a copy of the file which can be viewed by double-clicking the icon
    • This can make the .tdl file Huge, affecting storage, backups, reporting, file tranfers, and regular performance.
    • Opening this file may trigger PC-specific warnings from the OS or protection software. The icon may be modified with a overlay if triggers a security warning.
    • There is (at this time) no Open With option, for example to view a .bat file with an editor. In this case the only option is to execute the .bat file.
    • Not only can the file be opened, but it can be edited and resaved into the task comment. This means such an object should not be thought of as a static snapshot of an original.
  • Embed a link to the file which allows the original file to be edited and automatically updated.
    • A shortcut with a clickable icon is inserted, but otherwise this is the same as the Link above (including possible invalidation).
    • The shortcut opens the source file for editing. The phrase “automatically updated” means the current state of the source file is always available. Compare to an embedded file which starts as a local copy of the original, and which may be edited within the tasklist.
    • While the actual file isn't embedded, a shortcut is, and a number of these can expand the size of the .tdl file.
  • Display the image file directly (currently supports bmp, ico, gif, jpg, png)
    • This option is enabled only for image files.

In that selector, any of these options can be made the automatic choice.

To resize an image, as with images anywhere else, use the “handles” (small square) around the image border or on the corners. This may not always work as expected for larger images.

The placeholder shortcut for a file added into a comment is resizable and may not show the entire filename without resizing. The icon is the current application assigned to that file type. The shortcut placeholder is actually an image which includes the icon and text - it is not an icon with separate text. If this shortcut image is resized by dragging on the border handles, the icon and text are subject to resizing, perhaps undesirably.

Work in Progress. When right-clicking on an image, shortcut, or file, the context menu displayed is actually for the entire comments area and not just for the object clicked. So for example, if you select Preferences, the choice here is to set the default for all future file objects, not to set the preference for the currently selected object. However, to remove an object, right click and select Delete.

In v7.0, if you use the Del key, a prompt may display to delete the task, not the image. If a mistake is made, just Ctrl+Z to Undo. You can also position the cursor immediately after the image and press Backspace.

While drag/drop and copy/paste of file folders is supported, the result is a link to the source, not a folder icon and not a copy of all of the contained files.

Links and URLs To link to a web page, just drag/drop from the browser address bar into the comment area. You can also select/copy the address field, then paste it into the comment. In both plain text and rich text mode, the URL will change to a hyperlink which can be single-clicked to launch the browser and return to the web page.

For drag/drop, most browsers have an icon just before the URL/address field which can be dragged to create links and shortcuts. (Web developers recognize this as favicon.ico.) You don't need to select/copy the text in the address field. The following screenshots show this icon in Internet Explorer and Firefox. Notice the icon might be differerent depending on whether HTTPS is used for secure login.

Drag/drop from the IE icon may not result in the entire URL being saved. IE does not copy past some reserved characters like “#” which are used in complex URLs, for example at Google. This is not a ToDoList bug.

You can also drag a shortcut from your desktop and drop it in the comment. In plain text mode, a link is saved to the shortcut (looks like “<file://C:/path/file.URL>”) - the link within the shortcut is not saved here. So clicking the link opens the shortcut on the desktop, and it's the shortcut that opens the browser. In rich text mode the shortcut is like any other file, and the prompt is displayed to ask how the file should be treated. For both plain text and rich text, if there is a link to a shortcut file, and that file is moved or deleted, the link saved in the comment is no longer valid. For this reason it's best not to use shortcuts like this, but to save the actual address/URL.

Another way to add a file link is to right click in comments, and in the context menu select Insert File Link.

Final note on links: It's possible for some file links to not get rendered immediately as blue clickable links. After typing a few characters the process which identifies links eventually recognizes them. Sometimes the text is converted to a link but the entire text may not be underlined. It is still a valid and clickable link. You can right click on the link and the context menu will show an option to Open URL: …

Timestamp Comment Log Entries To insert a Date/Time stamp into a comment, the default hotkey is Ctrl-D. Per a Preference option, text can be added as a suffix to this timestamp. Examples include a space, comma, space+colon+space, etc. The user name can also be auto-added here: “Append the user's 'Created By' name when pasting the 'Date/Time'”

There are no other automatic text features, however, see *Auto-Text and Typing Assistants* below.

Text Wrapping In plain text mode, comment text is automatically wrapped at the end of the text control. In rich text mode there is a toolbar icon to toggle the wrap behaviour. If wrapping is off then a horizontal scrollbar displays when required.

InfoTips There are settings under Preferences > User Interface > Tasklist Attributes > Other > “Show task infotips”. When checked, you get a summary of task information when you mouse-over the task title. That info will include the full comment field, which could be quite long. So there is a setting to “Limit length of comments shown to x characters. The default is 100.

Display of comments with the task title When viewing terse task names it's often helpful to get a short summary of what the task is about. For example, the title of several tasks might be “Documentation” but the first line of the comment can clarifies what the specific task is documenting. In addition to, or instead of an InfoTip, comments can be displayed immediately after the task title, with a dim/lighter style to differentiate the two. Under the InfoTips preference setting above, there is an option to “Display comments after a task's title”. This will display the entire comment unless restricted by the next check box “Display only the first line of comments”. Having both of those checked can be very helpful.

Internal storage Simple text comments are stored in the .tdl file XML in tag COMMENTS. Rich text is in RTF format, then compressed, and stored in CUSTOMCOMMENTS. A task with CUSTOMCOMMENTS also has a text version of the comment in COMMENTS, without formatting.

Text Style To change styling for comments, go to Preferences > User Interface > Fonts and Colours. Near the top is a setting for the Comments Font and the Point Size. A huge selection of fonts is offered. Note that users on different PCs have different fonts, so using a standard is recommended when sharing data.

Spell Checking As of v7.0, ToDoList itself does not do spell checking in comments. Windows now includes built-in spell checking which can be disabled for the entire system. At this time there is no option to enabled/disable spellcheck in ToDoList separately from that global setting.

Reporting XSL to render comments may require parsing the text. See bundled XSL files from the Resources repo for examples.

Exports There is an option in Preferences > Importing/Exporting to “Only export title and comments for parent tasks”. This is for reporting where sub/child tasks have detail for time and cost, and perhaps their own comments, but the only comments which should be exported (perhaps to clients) are those in the parent tasks. Note that this is not for Transforms and reporting with XSL, but for Exports to other formats where other tools will be processing the data.

User Defined Tools and Commandline Options To send comments of a selected task to a UDT, use the argument code “$(selTComments)”. The text will be a single block delimited by “\n” (x0A = line feed) rather than multiple lines.

To set the comment on a task from outside of ToDoList, use the command-line with switch -cm.

Auto-Text and Typing Assistants Many ToDoList users have unique requirements for entering custom text. For example some people use Wingdings to add special characters to their text, others have common phrases that may or may not change depending on circumstances.

This kind of functionality is beyond the scope of ToDoList. However, there are many third-party tools available for this, and they can help with all applications, not just ToDoList. Some of these are listed here.

  • AutoHotKey is a free DIY (Do It Yourself) tool which has been used for many years with ToDoList to control many features.
  • AutoIt free scripting is a bit less cryptic than AHK but it's still for DIY folks.
  • PhraseExpress is an awesome tool to simplify typing and system control, and for correcting errors. It's free for personal use and inexpensive for business.
  • Fast Typing is free and similar to PhraseExpress. Another offering on that site is Text Converter which has a number of interesting features to correct errors and for people who use different keyboard layouts.

Requests related to Comments

task-comments.1475203627.txt.gz · Last modified: 2016/09/30 02:47 by admin