Plans for the next FreeplaneGTD version

I’ve recently received some donations from the users of the addon. It’s always great to see others find my work useful. Upping my spirits I’ve decided to take a look at further possible enhancements.

Looking at the forks of the addon I found Alex implemented some great features for the 1.9 branch, that could be interesting for others.

He has implemented support for cancelled tasks, archiving solution for weekly reviews, display of tasks closed in various timeframes. These all help in practicing proper GTD, including the periodic reviews that I’m not very efficient at.

An other useful addition is that he found the way of running modification interceptors, that are executed at every map change.

I plan to use these to automatically

  • update task changes (text, status, context icons) on the task list,
  • Update task list when a new project icon is added,
  • convert shorthands to tasks,
  • Update contexts based on icons,
  • Re-evaluate upon map configuration property changes (aliases, context icons)

These changes take time, if interested feel free to motivate me with donations!

FreeplaneGTD rebooted 

After using my addon for a while, I’ve completely got fed up with the ugliness of the task list. 

The flying saucer library, I’ve used to display the list is great for simple HTML display. When  you consider what the original list looked like it’s a great improvement. 

Unfortunately it was quite difficult to get working within the Freeplane sandbox and required a long time to start up. Also it made the entire addon bulky for no good reason. 

I’ve decided to revisit the topic and try to use the webkit based HTML renderer, that’s distributed since Java version 7.

It took some extreme experimenting and debugging of the Freeplane internals, the Groovy runtime and even the Java runtime for a while, but I think I finally figured out how to use the component in the addon. I still have to work out some of the quirks, but you can expect to receive a new version sometime over the summer months. 

I plan to introduce a few major modifications to the addon too. First of all I plan to change the shortcut system to leave the annotations in the original node text and add it to the attributes only. It leaves the nodes more readable, so if the attributes are hidden on the map you will still be able to see the entire value. 

Another idea is to add a new notation system which is better suited for the notations used in our age. Contexts will be marked up with #, responsibles with @, priority in {} and dates within  []. Since the shortcuts remove the content at the moment and the attributes are used in the task list that won’t affect most of the maps,, but I don’t want to support both annotation types in the long run. 

If you have any ideas for improvement, please share it with me! 

Predictions for 2017

​It’s already February and I dug through so many articles and posts on predictions for the rise of the cloud, IoT, devops, Linux desktops, whatnot that I lost count myself. Looking at the article 10 IT leaders weigh in on their biggest talent gaps for 2017 I thought it is a good time to make a prediction for the year with a little less optimism.
Due to the increase in IT talent demands inexperienced programmers will be forced to design cloud enabled software, which can quickly lead to security issues.
According to the quoted article, the industry figures they interviewed emphasized that cloud, security, devops and leadership skills are all in high demand. When business models are about “going digital” and “moving to the cloud” and “aiming for agility” it’s not a surprise to see the talent in these areas is scarce. Looking at the rise of the developer’s wages shows that there is a cut-throat race there to hunt down talents or anyone really with a little knowledge of the field.
Considering how the educational system is still mass producing specialists with narrow and usually quite obsolete skill set whom the market is mostly turning into specialists in a narrow field I think the experts mentioned in the article as ones with “well-rounded CVs”, are not likely to evolve.
I see no reason for the knowledge gap to close, so even if wages no longer rise, the empty seats will not be filled with experienced individuals. The most experienced will float to  lead developer, architect, team leader positions leaving another hole with their rise. They will rarely know what software design, security or performance aspects to consider in their designs and it is unlikely for them to have people management experience either.
Looking at the past, before the era of the explosion of the internet bubble, it always worked this way, so it’s not a big change you could say. System administrators became CIOs in one go, and got around pretty well. The main difference I see, is that most IT departments were dealing with in-house applications in that era, that ticked away on a forgotten server tucked away in a banged-up cupboard of a basement storage room. Unfortunately these people will design applications in the cloud for the cloud instead. Their applications are exposed on publicly available servers along with the data. The provider can only go as far as providing a framework that can be used to develop secure software.

My prediction for the year?

There will be serious breakdowns and security incidents all over the applications moved to cloud infrastructure. I’m using the term security in the broadest term, including the entire spectrum of the sacred security CIA triad. Data is exposed by hackers, who don’t even break a sweat stealing customer data.(Confidentiality) Your orders are getting mixed up or lost on webshops(Integrity).  Nice,  shiny gadgets you bought from a high flyer startup will cease to work without their backing services when poisoned releases roll out(Availability).

As for the root cause, I still don’t see how to get more talents in the field. So I advise to think about doing the next best thing.
To avoid these problems companies, that can identify with the scenario above, can and should start investing in their processes and their existing talent pool. Develop internal carrier roadmaps with security and quality focus. Provide comprehensive education plans, and provide time compensation to meet these plans. Make sure that your solution designs are always peer-validated and properly documented.  If you can afford find experts for hire to develop quality standards, and regularly go over your business continuity plans to see if they still fit your business.
Otherwise you can expect to be looking at the wrong kind of cloud business model.