Slay the Leviathan Context

by Bill Van Hecke on June 24, 2011

If you're like us, nearly all of your OmniFocus actions seem to want to go in some leviathan-context called "Computer" or "Online" or something equally unhelpful. Here is one way to break that huge context down using hierarchical contexts in OmniFocus. Instead of organizing actions strictly by where the work needs to happen, this approach also considers the kind of work your brain needs to do in order to get them done. That way, when I'm sitting in front of the Mac or the iPad wondering what to work on, I can choose based on where my mind is, instead of paging past tons of stuff that seems too boring or too demanding.

  • Work — This used to be called "Mac", before the iPhone and iPad. Now this sort of work can happen pretty much anywhere. Nothing goes directly in here, only in the subcontexts. The subcontexts are arranged roughly by ascending cognitive expense.
    • Maintenance — Mindless stuff like shuffling files around, paying bills, and fixing little problems on sites.
    • Study — Research, Googlin’, finding out stuffs I need to find out.
    • Communication — Contacting people by email or chat.
    • Planning — Serious thinking, outlining, drafting ideas, and so on.
    • Design — Grafflin’ & Photochoppin’.
    • Writing — Production writing tasks for things that need to be written well.
    • Code — Coding tasks that are likely to require a warmed-up brain.
    • Translation — Making things that are in Japanese not be in Japanese anymore.
  • Input — Videos; music; articles that won’t go in Instapaper.
  • Output — Informal blog posts ("macrotweeting") and such that don’t require intense thought.

This strategy is probably common knowledge among serious GTD theorists, but I still run into folks who are surprised by it. The inspiration for adopting it myself came from my DavidCo GTD coaching session a while back. This context arrangement (in addition to the standard Home, Errands, et cetera) pretty seriously improved the way I work. I hope it yields some usefulness for you too.

OmniPlan 2.0 beta updated!

by Skwirl on June 23, 2011

Hello again OmniPlan planners!

For this beta update we fixed 5 more distinct crashers and added support for full screen mode and hidden scroll bars in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). We also addressed some issues with scheduling, publishing & subscriptions, as well as various bugs that were reported by beta testers over the last couple of weeks. If you'd like to check out the full release notes, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. 

As always, please keep in mind that this version is still in development so feedback is encouraged and we apologize if it breaks your computer, corrupts your files, or ruins your weekend. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts about OmniPlan v2.0: You can contact us directly by our support page or by using the Send Feedback feature in your copy of OmniPlan.

To start using the new beta, you can use the built-in software updater in OmniPlan v2.0 or you can download it from our website here.

A Nudge Forward

by Robin on June 23, 2011

Typically before we ship a new version of OmniGraphSketcher, I like to try using the app to re-create a real economics diagram based on a set of the most interesting graphs in an economics textbook. In other words, I try to simulate the experience of being an actual OmniGraphSketcher user.

The last time I did this, I was blown away by how easy it was to draw this professional-quality graph, right there on my iPad — just by tapping and dragging my fingers.

 

I mean, look at that! I could easily email it in PDF format directly to a textbook publisher.

There was one frustration, though. It was difficult and somewhat error-prone to precisely position text labels, especially when they were short, abbreviated variable names. The labels were mostly hidden under my finger, so adjusting them just right required zooming in as far as I could and even then having to guess if I was in exactly the right spot.

I knew that Apple's iWork applications had solved this problem with a "nudge" gesture, which you perform by holding one finger on the object to be adjusted and then swiping a second finger in the direction you want to nudge. The object being held shifts by one pixel per swipe. That feature was already on our very long to-do list, but no customers had ever requested it, so it was not in any immediate plans. Yet assembling this example graph made it clear that finely adjusting objects was the weakest link in our quest to make graph creation as quick and easy as possible.

I set about implementing the nudge gesture, which quickly turned into a major overhaul of our whole gesture recognition system. That overhaul made the other gestures more reliable, and it paved the way for new and interesting gesture shortcuts. For example, OmniGraffle for iPad now includes the ability to quickly send objects forward and backwards by pressing one finger on the selection while swiping two more fingers up (to send forward) or down (to send backward).

Now that OmniGraphSketcher for iPad includes the nudge gesture, creating that complex economics graph is really a breeze. You'd think I'd have gotten used to it by now, given that I've been developing the app ever since the iPad was announced and I know in detail how it all works. Yet Apple's term "magical" is still the best way I know of to describe what it feels like to use the app to make beautiful, accurate graphs.

 

OmniOutliner for iPad sells 10,000 copies in first three weeks

by Ken Case on June 2, 2011

Thanks to all our customers for your amazing show of support for serious iPad productivity apps!  Three weeks ago we launched OmniOutliner for iPad, and I'm very pleased to announce that we sold our 10,000th copy of the app yesterday.

More importantly, our reviews on the App Store are averaging four stars and we've been hearing great things about the app from all of you:

@stanlemon: @kcase your crew really knocked it out of the park today with @OmniOutliner for the iPad. Bravo!

@rwilcox: Omnioutliner iPad is so much more than I ever imagined. Never been so blown away.

@PaulWestlake: Used @OmniOutliner on the iPad in my first meeting today. Wow... This is going to replace so many of the apps on my iPad. Stunning. Buy it!

@JustOrtiz: OmniOutliner for iPad was the reason I wanted an iPad when it first came out. Well worth the wait. It's finally made the iPad what I need

@jdriscoll: Spent some time with OmniOutliner for iPad last night and was blown by the 1.0. Great work @omnigroup.

So with over 10,000 sales and great reviews it looks like version 1.0 is off to a great start!

But version 1.0 is just where our apps start, it's not where they end:  today we're putting the final touches on a version 1.0.2 update, which fixes a number of bugs and adds a few minor enhancements, such as autoscroll for dragging rows and document sorting by title.

And we won't be stopping at version 1.0.2 either, of course. Many of you have also asked us for a better document management interface and for automatic document synchronization, so those are some of our top priorities for the next few updates.  We've been inspired by the improvements Apple has made in the iWork apps earlier this week (yay, folders!), and we're also really looking forward to learning on Monday how Apple's upcoming iCloud service might fit into the picture.

…and all that said, I just got the word from QA that version 1.0.2 looks ready to go, so I'm off to go submit that now. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks especially for all the great feedback over these first few weeks! Please keep it coming: we're looking forward to continuing to make this app better and better with each release. As always, you can reach me by leaving a comment here, or by sending me a message on twitter (where you'll find me at @kcase).

OmniPlan 2.0 beta updated!

by Skwirl on June 1, 2011

Hello again OmniPlan planners!

For this beta update we fixed 16 more distinct crashers, plugged some memory leaks, and started work on compatibility with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). We addressed some issues with scheduling, change tracking, and publishing & subscriptions, as well as various bugs that were reported by beta testers over the last couple of weeks. If you'd like to check out the full release notes, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. 

As always, please keep in mind that this version is still in development so feedback is encouraged and we apologize if it breaks your computer, corrupts your files, or ruins your weekend. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts about OmniPlan v2.0: You can contact us directly by our support page or by using the Send Feedback feature in your copy of OmniPlan.

To start using the new beta, you can use the built-in software updater in OmniPlan v2.0 or you can download it from our website here.