OmniFocus 2 for Mac resumes testing, will ship in June

by Ken Case on March 26, 2014

Just the Facts

“When will OmniFocus 2 for Mac ship?”

June, 2014.

“Can I help you test OmniFocus 2 for Mac before it ships?”

Absolutely! If you helped us test the pre-Mavericks builds last year, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

After listening to your comments on the initial preview, and seeing the direction Apple was moving with OS X Mavericks and iOS 7, we took some time to rethink and redesign OmniFocus 2 for Mac. We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we’re now ready to open the flood gates to share the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac with you.

Head on over to our download page to get the latest build of OmniFocus 2 for Mac.

More Detail, Please!

When we unveiled our plans for OmniFocus 2 for Mac last year and invited you to try our test builds, it was so we could learn from you which parts of the design were working well, and which parts still needed improvement. We didn’t know what to expect, so we weren’t sure how close we might be to setting a ship date.

The feedback you provided was generally positive: the new design was easier to navigate, and the new Forecast and Review modes were making it much easier to stay on top of all your projects.

But listening to your feedback, we also learned a lot about ways we could make the app even better—and we were further inspired by Apple’s latest designs when they unveiled iOS 7.

We paused our test builds and went back into heads-down mode to focus on the hard work of another round of design and development. Since that time, our team has been working tirelessly behind the scenes on a fresh design that preserves the best features of their original work while adapting to the latest changes to the platform.

With this new design in place, I’m thrilled to announce that OmniFocus 2 is now ready for its final round of testing.

New OmniFocus 2 test build

Next Steps

As noted at the top, any of the nearly 30,000 people who participated in last year’s testing are welcome to join back in!

What we’re most looking for at this point are any issues that make OmniFocus 2 harder to use for your particular workflow than OmniFocus 1 was. We’ll be giving your feedback a hard look between now and when we ship in June and trying to address as much of it as we can, so the sooner we hear from you the better.

The best way for you to share your thoughts with us is to contact us by email at ofpreview@omnigroup.com. We’ve also set up a Discourse test board which you can use to share tips and advice with other testers.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to test OmniFocus 2 for Mac during our private test last year! My hope is that each of you will be able to see how the feedback you gave us made the app even better.

If you didn’t sign up for the test last year but would like to be considered for future test releases, please head over to the OmniFocus 2 for Mac test sign-up page to get on the waiting list. (If you did sign up last year but have forgotten your login details, you can also use the sign-up page to retrieve those details.)

How to Contact Us

Now, go grab the latest build of OmniFocus 2 for Mac and let us know what you think! Here’s how to reach us:

And, as always, you’re welcome to reach out to me personally: I can be reached by email at kc@omnigroup.com, or on Twitter at @kcase.

We look forward to hearing from you!

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone Manual Available on the iBookstore

by David Lonning on February 26, 2014

OmniFocus saw a new member join its documentation family today, with the addition of the OmniFocus 2 for iPhone User Manual to the list of of our EPUB reference books available on the Apple iBookstore. The manual is updated for version 2.1, and is available immediately as a free (and DRM-free) download.

Our OmniGraffle 6 EPUB documentation celebrated a little milestone as well, with a host of quality-of-life improvements and clarifications bringing the OmniGraffle 6 for Mac User Manual up to date for version 6.0.4.

The OmniFocus 2 for iPhone manual joins the OmniGraffle 6 and OmniOutliner 4 EPUB manuals already available on the iBookstore in the 51 territories to which we're currently able to publish. If the books aren’t available in your country, please email us at support@omnigroup.com and we’ll provide you with a copy of the book you need.

Keep an eye out for more books coming your way!

Looking back at Omni’s 2013, and looking ahead to 2014

by Ken Case on January 8, 2014

One year ago, I talked about our plans for 2013. Whenever I do this, I worry—particularly about the stress I’m putting on our team. They know better than anyone that these plans can and will change, sometimes causing trouble for customers who were making their own plans based on what we previously shared. But if I don’t ever talk about where we’re headed, it’s difficult for you all to know whether you want to join us on that journey.

So, here I am talking about our plans again, and I hope you’ll understand that this is a statement of direction—not a prediction of exactly when we will get to each milestone along the way!

Let’s start by reviewing those plans from last year: OmniFocus 2. OmniOutliner 4. Automatic document syncing. Sandboxing. Accessibility. Visio and Microsoft Project compatibility in our iPad apps. Upgrade pricing from Mac App Store apps. How did 2013 actually play out, compared to those original plans?

In Q1, we posted a first look at OmniFocus 2 and began private testing of OmniFocus 2, as well as testing OmniOutliner 4 and testing OmniPresence. We shipped several hundred test builds of those apps over the next few months, and in May we shipped OmniPresence.

Through June, as you can see, everything was going pretty much according to that original plan. We even managed to slip in a bonus update to OmniFocus for iPhone which added support for location-based background syncing and for emailing actions.

In June, at WWDC, Apple announced the new OS X Mavericks, and went on to announce an entirely new design direction for iOS 7—asking all app developers to rethink their iPhone and iPad apps to fit in with it.

We decided to spend one very focused Q3 building three new apps for iOS 7, with team members canceling their vacations and working late nights and weekends to get things ready in time. And while we had to make some hard decisions along the way (like delaying OmniFocus 2 for Mac and discontinuing OmniGraphSketcher), the end results were that we were ready on iOS 7 launch day near the end of Q3 (September 17) with three apps our team can be quite proud of:

  • OmniOutliner 2 for iPad refreshed the visual design for iOS 7, of course, but also added templates, style themes (with a dark theme mode), external keyboard support with dozens of keyboard shortcuts, folders, background syncing, and export to Word documents.
  • OmniPlan 2 for iPad added support for importing Microsoft Project documents, as planned in our original roadmap, and updated its interface for iOS 7, but we didn’t stop there. We also added support for viewing a task’s scheduling influences, for highlighting the critical path, and for using iOS 7’s AirDrop to share HTML and PDF documents with nearby devices.
  • OmniFocus 2 for iPhone added background syncing, but the real story was its complete design refresh, for which it received rave reviews. It was one of the top selling apps during the launch weekend of iOS 7 across all categories, and is considered by Apple to be one of the Best of 2013.

Of course, just because we shipped new version 2 apps didn’t mean that we should just abandon our version 1 apps, so we also quickly shipped free updates for each of those so they would also be compatible with iOS 7.

At this point in the story, those of you who were quite familiar with our iOS app line-up might well have been scratching your head: Why were we shipping major iOS 7 redesigns for OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, and OmniPlan—but not OmniGraffle?

Fortunately, you wouldn’t have had long to wonder about that, because we answered that question the very next week, when we shipped a huge redesign for OmniGraffle for Mac with all kinds of great features. (Briefly: A totally redesigned interface, resource browser, image masking, nondestructive shape combinations, artistic styles, Retina-awareness, Photoshop export… so much stuff!)

These four new apps were the first paid upgrades we’d shipped since we started distributing apps through the App Store, and they were huge commercial successes, leading to two months of the highest sales we’ve experienced throughout our 21-year history.

But they brought us right up against one of the App Store’s big limitations: its lack of support for upgrade discounts for people who purchased previous versions of an app. We’d been pointing out this issue for a while, and proposed a solution for the Mac App Store in our 2013 roadmap which we implemented in Q3 when we posted OmniKeyMaster—but within a week we learned that approach wasn’t allowed. This felt discouraging, but we kept exploring alternative ideas and in Q4 we finally found an approach which Apple would approve, letting us offer limited upgrade discounts to OmniGraffle 6 through the Mac App Store.

Building these new apps meant writing a lot of new documentation, which inspired us to think about how to make our documentation more relevant and accessible, and in December we shipped the OmniGraffle 6 User Manual in the iBookstore. Feedback has been very positive with over 2,000 downloads in its first month, so we’re looking forward to continuing to use the iBookstore for more of our manuals in the future.

In the end, 2013 turned out to be quite a great year at Omni, with plenty of critical acclaim and commercial success—even if things didn’t go exactly as we originally planned! (And during our vacations, we even found a little time to update OmniDiskSweeper for Mavericks as well as posting new 64-bit test builds of OmniWeb 6.)

So where does that leave us now? What are we planning to do next?

Well, while we’ve done plenty of testing (with tens of thousands of active testers!), we still haven’t shipped either OmniOutliner 4 or OmniFocus 2 for Mac. We made significant progress with accessibility in 2013 (in OmniOutliner 2 for iPad and OmniFocus 2 for iPhone), but we still have more work to do across the board. And we still have two apps which need to be redesigned for iOS 7: OmniFocus for iPad, and OmniGraffle for iPad. (Right now, they’re both looking rather dated next to the rest of our line-up!)

So, let’s start!

In one week, we’ll be shipping OmniOutliner 4. Stay tuned!

OS X Mavericks and Omni Apps

by Dave on October 22, 2013

Just like you, we’re really excited about today’s release of OS X Mavericks. In case you’re wondering, here’s the compatibility status of each of our shipping apps:

  • OmniPlan 2.3.1 has some rendering and exporting issues in Mavericks, but we’ve submitted version 2.3.2 to the App Store and it will be available later today from omnigroup.com.

  • We’re not aware of any issues with OmniOutliner 3.10.6 or 3.10.5, and the OmniOutliner 4 test builds are running great. Update: It looks like OmniOutliner 3’s Quick Look preview generator isn’t working in 10.9. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

  • OmniGraffle 6 is good to go, and if you haven’t upgraded yet, 5.4.4 is too.

  • OmniFocus for Mac 1.10.5 is all set (be sure to check for updates if you’re running 1.10.4 or earlier).

A note on the OmniFocus 2 Private Test: We’re loving what Mavericks is doing for our development process, but new builds aren’t ready for testers yet. Since the currently available test builds have significant issues when running on Mavericks, we recommend that testers revert to OmniFocus 1.10.5 and wait for an announcement.

That’s it! If you run into any issues with any of our apps after updating OS X, please don’t hesitate to email our Support Humans or give us a call at 1 800-315-6664 (10am-5pm Pacific Time).

Deliver Actions to your OmniFocus Inbox with Mail Drop

by Dave on October 16, 2013

Mail Drop is a feature of the Omni Sync Server that many of you have been using for quite a while. After a year of private and public testing we’re ready to drop the “beta” badge and recommend Mail Drop to all of our customers who use Omni Sync Server with OmniFocus.

If you’re not familiar with Mail Drop, the concept is simple: send emails directly into your OmniFocus Inbox. For example, if your Twitter client doesn’t support “Send to OmniFocus” natively, but does let you email tweets, send that latest Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen photo to a special @sync.omnigroup.com email address. The next time you open your OmniFocus Inbox, you’ll see it waiting for the artistic Photoshop you planned on your bus ride home.

Here are some other ways you might use Mail Drop:

  • Bridging the gap between your Windows PC at work and your OmniFocus system.
  • Processing actionable emails on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Setting up a special email address to allow a partner to delegate actions directly.
  • Using if this then that to automate all kinds of internet-y things.

So what are you waiting for? Log in to your Omni Sync Server account and create your first Mail Drop address. If you have questions that aren’t answered by our Mail Drop Support Article, drop our support humans a line.