Upcoming changes coming to My Tasks in Asana! [breaking changes]

tl;dr: We are making breaking changes to the way that user task lists (i.e. My Tasks) work in Asana. If your app interacts with user task lists, please read!

Hi everyone,

I’m Yacob and I’m a Product Engineer here at Asana. I’m here to share some exciting news about some upcoming changes we have to the My Tasks (a.k.a. user task list) experience and let you all in the developer community know about the changes we will be making to our API to support this new experience.

First, some background!

Today, in user task lists, there are 2 primary ways you can group and organize your work.

  1. All users have 4 default priority sections (Recently Assigned, Today, Upcoming, & Later)
  • Users can move tasks around between those priority sections manually and additionally, we have a process called “task auto-promotion” that moves tasks automatically between these sections based on task due dates.
  1. Users can manually create “sections” in their user task list to further organize, and these manually-created “sections” live in one of the 4 default priority sections.
  • These “sections” are just tasks with a specific bit of metadata to allow them to display visually as separators. To disambiguate these later, they will be referred to as “task-sections”.) Because it’s just a task, at the level of our data model it doesn’t actually “contain” the tasks that come below it.

We’re excited to announce that we are giving users the ability to completely customize the structure of their user task list by introducing “column-sections” in user tasks lists, much like they exist in projects. We believe that this will allow users to view & structure their work in whatever works best for them; this means the ability to switch between board & list view, the ability to have proper “column-sections” that act as containers, and the ability to control how they want to group their tasks.

To that end, Asana is deprecating “task sections” and these 4 default priority sections in favor of these “column-sections”. As you might expect, with a change like this, the API will undergo a radical shift in how sections in user task lists behave and how developers can interact with them. So I’m here to tell you all you need to know about how this will impact our API.

We will break down the implications of these changes on the API into 2 chunks: breaking changes & improvements.

Breaking changes:

  • Task-sections will be replaced with column-sections. The migration process will take each task-section (except ones that exist in the “Later” category) and create a new column-section to replace it. The old task it came from may or may not remain behind, depending on the final migration process. Additionally, after the migration, users may delete any old task-sections on their own.
  • The 4 default priority sections (Recently Assigned, Today, Upcoming, Later) will be going away. (We will refer to the property corresponding to these sections as assignee status for this post). Therefore, we will not allow writes to this property and we will stop returning this property when returning metadata about tasks. In addition, task auto-promotion will be going away as well!
  • The order of tasks returned in user task lists from the GET /user_task_lists/:user_task_list_gid/tasks will change to return tasks in order for each column from left-to-right.
  • Endpoints that allow users to read or write to the order or organization of tasks in a user task list will now only be accessible to the owner of the user task list. This includes endpoints that allow reordering tasks, moving tasks between sections, and modifying sections.

Improvements:

  • Section endpoints will start working for all user task lists. Currently, the GET /sections/<section-id>/tasks endpoint only works in projects today because task-sections are not true containers in user task lists. Column-sections will replace task-sections in user task lists so you will be able to use section endpoints on user task lists. This includes the ability to fully customize the names, order, and number of column-sections in user task lists.
  • Moving a section will move all tasks in that section with it. This is similar to how you would move column-sections in a project today.

In the future, we will kick off migration of a small number of user task lists, then ramp it up gradually, and over the course of months, we will migrate all user task lists. This means that you will not be able to opt-in or opt-out to signify when you would like this change. Rest assured, we will give you all a heads up as we get closer to the date when we kick off the migration!

The deprecation plan:

User task lists will be given a new, read-only boolean attribute called user_task_list_is_migrated, which will be true if the migration is complete for the given user task list and false otherwise. This will be a temporary field that will be removed about one month after all user task lists in Asana have been migrated. This should not be considered a permanently supported addition to the API, so integrations using this attribute should be built to handle its absence. The presence of this field will not be controlled by our deprecations framework.

Using the deprecations framework, we will be making the following changes:

  • If an app calls the PUT /tasks/{task_gid} endpoint with an assignee_status,no changes will be made to the assignee_status property.
  • If an app calls the GET /tasks/{task_gid} endpoint or any endpoint that returns metadata about a task, we will no longer return the assignee_status property in the response payload, even if it is explicitly requested via opt_fields

The opt-in period will begin fairly soon (before any user task lists are actually migrated) and will run until all task lists have been migrated. We will have a specific start date to share with you as soon as we’ve confirmed our timeline internally, expected within the next month.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this. We’ll be watching this thread for questions and will update this post as necessary to provide more information or clarification.

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@Yacob, for those of us that are fond of the priority sections, is it fair to assume that we’ll be able to reintroduce the task auto-promotion feature by applying rules within My Task in the near future? I could see how rules could even allow for tasks to be “demoted” when a due date adjusts.

Furthermore, with the priority sections going away will the ability to “mark tasks as today, upcoming or later” also be retired?

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As @Jerod_Hillard is suggesting (I believe), we’re all going to need some context about what’s happening to My Tasks in the UI (Mark For, auto-task promotion, etc.) in order to understand how to adapt our apps properly. I know other teams at Asana handle that, so perhaps they need to write a similar post. Until we have that, I think it will just result in a lot of questions and confusion for us.

Thanks,

Larry

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Cannot wait! Such a long time coming and so incredible stoked to hear this! :raised_hands::raised_hands::raised_hands::raised_hands:

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Hi @Yacob,

Thanks for this info!

Here are a few initial questions.

(a) Why are those task-sections not being migrated?
(b) What will happen to them?

Won’t this be a boolean attribute? enums for custom fields are each their own record, with their own gids, seperate records for each enum value, etc. - that doesn’t seem to fit here.

The Deprecations Framework involves Asana-Enable and Asana-Disable header values; I’m not clear on how those will be used here?

Thanks for all of the thoughtful questions! I’ll try to respond to each one below.

is it fair to assume that we’ll be able to reintroduce the task auto-promotion feature by applying rules within My Task in the near future?

@Jerod_Hillard You are correct, task auto-promotion is going away ! I’ll amend the breaking changes section to make that clearer.

will the ability to “mark tasks as today, upcoming or later” also be retired?

@Jerod_Hillard You are correct about this as well. Since we are removing the 4 priority sections, we will also be removing all instances of this concept in the app including the ability to “mark for” a priority section.

(a) Why are those task-sections not being migrated?
(b) What will happen to them?

@Phil_Seeman These are not being migrated because today in the “Later” section, they do not appear as task-sections in the list view in My Tasks. Nothing will happen to them.

Won’t this be a boolean attribute?

@Phil_Seeman That was simply a typo, I’ve corrected that inline as well. Thanks for the catch!

cc @lpb as well since you asked a similar question to the ones above.

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Not sure this is the right place for this since I am speaking form a non developer standpoint:
Looking forward to it! Will I lose any of my tasks that don’t exist anywhere else besides “user tasks”?
2. Do we have to put all our tasks in the “Later Section” before the migration to be sure we don’t lose tasks?

No, you should not lose any tasks that don’t exist anywhere else besides My Tasks. The one exception is certain task-sections (see my answer below for more context).

nope, no need to worry about moving any tasks. the only tasks that will be “going away” is if you have a task-section in your My Tasks that you use to organize tasks in your “Recently Assigned”, “Today”, or “Upcoming” sections. after the migration, we will be replacing that task-section with a full-fledged column-section that will enable you to organize the work in My Tasks (these column-sections will behave similar to how sections behave in all projects today).

Thanks! Ok so “tasks” wont go away but custom “task sections” that we’ve created that live under “Recently Assigned”, “Today” or “Upcomming” will disappear. However the tasks under those custom task sections will not go away. Correct?

correct!

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One thing that’s probably worth pointing out, because it bit some folks when task-sections were converted to column-sections in regular projects…

Current task-sections, because they’re actually tasks under the hood, have the ability to hold information fields of regular tasks. When these are converted to column-sections, it will no longer be possible to store that info in the section item.

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Ah ok so if I have some information in any of the “Task Section’s” like in the “description” box for example that might disappear?

if they have metadata like a description, we are planning to keep the task-section around in that case and it will just be a task in the newly created column-section

@Yacob for those of us that are fond of the priority sections, is it fair to assume that we’ll be able to reintroduce the task auto-promotion feature by applying rules within My Task in the near future? I could see how rules could even allow for tasks to be “demoted” when a due date adjusts.

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We’ve considered adding Rules to My Tasks, but we don’t actively have plans to build this in the near term with this migration.

(@OSTMOST, @Jerod_Hillard - I don’t want to pull this thread off-topic but FYI I am modifying Flowsana as we speak to support User Task Lists, so that Flowsana rules will be able to be used for auto-promotion.)

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It is not off topic, it is actually right on the topic. Asana is driving me completely crazy with those half-measures. For the love of god why launch a project-like My Tasks and leave out the one thing that will make it really, really useful - Rules. Guys sometimes I just want to leave and never come back. Great that @Phil_Seeman and others are filling the gaps, because what you guys are doing is definitely sub-par, not honest to paying customer, way different to you your mission statement and marketing … Whatever, lets keep it a development thread, but very very disappointed.

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I have the opposite feeling, task auto-promotion being my #1 productivity trick :grimacing:

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I agree with Bastien’s comment. The loss of auto-promotion is concerning. We have trained all of our users to rely on auto-promoting (set and forget until it is due). This will force all users to change their workflow patterns. Does Asana have any materials which can be shared, so we can prepare our users before this is forced onto them?

The thought of having a major workflow change just appear without notice to a standard user will create havoc.

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@Bastien_Siebman okay well I agree with this point too, while still being excited :grimacing:

Is there any way to have a workflow set where task moves to XYZ section X days before due date?

I totally agree with you all, my “My Task” view is going to have probably hundreds of tasks that I don’t need to see sometimes for over a year.

If they allowed for automation rules to set up some of this functionality, I think we could get somewhere near that? Having an “Upcoming + Later” section and then using rules to move them based on due date?

My main concern is that My Tasks has been totally abandoned and left in the dark. Old layout, no board view, no section support. This is definitely needed, but I agree, something needs to be accounted for here as well for the auto-promoting bit or people’s My Task views are going to get incredibly messy with tasks falling by the wayside regularly.

Hoping they have a plan for this, surely?