Help us test OmniPlan 4 for Mac

by Ainsley Bourque Olson on April 2, 2020

As mentioned in our 2020 Roadmap, the OmniPlan team has been hard at work on OmniPlan 4 for Mac. This last month has been full of rough transitions for everyone—including us—but if we’re going to make it through this time we need to pull together and keep moving forward. To that end, we’re pleased to be starting the public test of OmniPlan 4 today.

Customizing styles in OmniPlan 4 for Mac

What’s new in OmniPlan 4 for Mac

When planning OmniPlan 4, we focused on the feedback we’ve received from project managers since we shipped the first edition of OmniPlan for Mac over 14 years ago. We asked ourselves how we could make OmniPlan easier to use for the day-to-day tasks of project management, simplifying the ease of use for our existing feature set and adding some of our most commonly requested features (like recurring tasks, and cost and effort tracking).

New features include:

  • Recurring tasks: Tasks can now be scheduled to occur at daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly intervals.
  • Task Roll Up: Group tasks can now be set to “When closed, roll up children” in the Task Inspector. When this option is set, sub-tasks and milestones are displayed in a single line when the group is collapsed. There are multiple use cases for this feature - we expect it to be particularly useful for displaying multiple milestones in a single row.
  • Manual task scheduling: Tasks now support manual scheduling. Tasks which are set to be scheduled manually will use the start and end dates you provide; OmniPlan will not attempt to automatically reschedule them.
  • Interval tracking: Cost and effort tokens can now be added as labels below tasks in the Gantt or displayed in the Gantt header. These tokens display the total cost or effort for the current time increment, or the cumulative total cost or effort up to that time increment.
  • New file type: OmniPlan projects can now be saved as flat files or package files. The file type for a project can be modified in the new Document section of the Project Inspector. Package files can be faster to save, but flat files are more compatible with third-party sync services such as Dropbox and Box.
  • Automatic light/dark mode: Projects created with default OmniPlan templates now automatically switch between light and dark mode when your system does.
  • Project outline view: New, dedicated top-level project outline view.
  • Unified resource view — Project and resource work-hour customization has been consolidated into an enhanced Resource View. This view provides easier access to existing functionality and introduces a new schedule exception popover and customized day list, which allow for titling schedule exceptions and creating exceptions that span any length of time.

In addition to these new features, we’ve made many smaller changes and improvements throughout the app. Please see the OmniPlan 4 release notes for a detailed list of the changes currently included in this release.

Viewing the task outline in OmniPlan 4 for Mac

Pardon our dust!

While OmniPlan 4 is ready for customer eyes (and projects!), please be aware that this is not yet a finalized release. As such, you may encounter unexpected behavior or notice that pieces of the UI shift between builds as we fine tune changes. These are the major areas we expect to continue changing between now and the final launch of OmniPlan 4:

  • Major inspector update: Appearance, layout, and organization of all inspectors has been updated to increase discoverability and improve access to functionality (this work is currently in progress).
    • Updated task schedule inspector: Support for scheduling tasks manually has been added to the Task Schedule Inspector and the workflow for setting up task constraints has been updated. Task baseline information has been split out into a new Task Baseline Inspector.
    • New scheduling influences inspector: The functionality previously offered by the “Show Scheduling Influences” popover is now displayed in a dedicated Task Inspector.
    • Overhauled styles inspector: The Styles Inspector has been redesigned to offer easy access to all of OmniPlan’s advanced styling functionality in one place, replacing OmniPlan 3’s Styles View.
    • Unified custom data inspector: The Custom Data and Attachments Inspectors have been updated and consolidated into a single inspector.
  • View customization UI: View customization options are being reorganized to make them easier to find and use.
  • Interval tracking: Interval tracking data can not yet be exported. We’re planning to add this functionality before wrapping up the public test period for OmniPlan 4.
  • Documentation: OmniPlan’s in-app Help has not yet been updated for OmniPlan 4. Please keep an eye on the release notes for information about when this documentation is available in-app!
  • Stability: While we believe current OmniPlan 4 builds are reasonably stable, there are likely bugs in the app we have not discovered that may trigger crashes. If you encounter a crash while running an OmniPlan 4 build, please send a crash report with any relevant details when prompted.

How to help test

If you’d like to help us test OmniPlan 4, please make sure you’re comfortable running software that hasn’t been fully tested, and that you back up important data regularly. It’s also important to make sure you’re in a position where you have internet access and can install/check for updates regularly. Test builds automatically expire after a few weeks, and we anticipate our OmniPlan 4 test builds to continue to change rapidly.

You can sign up to help us test OmniPlan 4 for Mac here.

Feedback about OmniPlan 4 can be sent to our Support team by selecting Help > Contact Omni… in the OmniPlan menu bar, or by emailing our Support team directly at omniplan@omnigroup.com.

A note about backwards compatibility: OmniPlan 4 for Mac contains changes to OmniPlan’s scheduling logic and file format. While some versions of OmniPlan 3 are able to open files created in OmniPlan 4, those versions of OmniPlan will not use the same scheduling logic when computing project schedules and you may notice scheduling inconsistencies. We do not recommend syncing OmniPlan 4 projects with OmniPlan 3 for iOS or previous versions of OmniPlan for Mac.

Thank you!

We’re so excited to hear what our customers think about this big OmniPlan update. Thank you in advance to everyone who takes the time to help us test OmniPlan 4!

Our Top Five Tips for Staying Productive While Working From Home

by Omni on March 20, 2020

If you’re like the millions of Americans who have found themselves working from home in the last few weeks, you might be having a hard time staying focused and productive without your normal workspace or your daily routines. With the Omni team all working remotely, we’ve had to learn some helpful new techniques ourselves. Since we’re in the business of productivity, here are five helpful tips for staying productive while working at home.

(1) Stick with your routine

When big life changes happen, it’s important to find normalcy and stability where you can. While it may be tempting to sleep in or sport your pajamas while working from home, sticking with your usual routine is key to maintaining balance. Get up when you normally get up, eat breakfast, and get dressed in work clothes (or, at least, non-sleeping clothes—you don’t have to wear a suit and tie in your home office). Following the typical steps you’d normally go through in your day will help you stay focused, because it prevents your brain from having to make too many extra decisions. You’ll also feel more like your normal Monday-through-Friday-self.

If you typically have a long commute and aren’t sure what to do with the extra time, consider that some free time you can use to develop new, healthy routines. Spend the time you’d usually be in a car or on the bus exercising, reading a book, meditating, or listening to a podcast—anything that helps you maintain a sense of calm. Not only does this give you some extra “me” time, but it also gives you a break between waking up and work time, which helps your brain set up boundaries between work and play.

(2) Have a dedicated workspace

Speaking of creating boundaries, don’t forget to set up physical boundaries for your workspace. Having a specific area to work will help you get more done during working hours and be able to unplug at the end of the day—just make sure you don’t spend too much time in your new workspace during your free time.

Wherever that space is—your desk, kitchen table, or a corner of your couch; anywhere that isn’t your bed!—make it your own, just like you would at the office. Make sure you have everything you need, from pens or staples to your favorite water bottle. Setting up shop like this will also help establish the physical boundaries of your workspace for the people you live with and ensure they know that when you’re there, you’re in work mode.

(3) Take breaks

No matter where you’re working, it’s important to take breaks. Your brain needs time to process, rest, and reset. Similar to sticking with your routine, make sure you build in the same breaks you would take at the office while you’re working from home. Go for a walk outside, stretch, grab a cup of coffee, or have a five-minute dance party—whatever you need to feel recharged. Most of us don’t move our bodies as much working from home as we would while at the office, so it’s important to stay active.

Don’t forget to take your normal lunch break, too (and, of course, to stop and start work at normal times). Eat a healthy meal (and healthy snacks throughout the day!) and drink plenty of water so your brain has the fuel it needs to help you do your best work. If you normally eat with coworkers, try setting up a video chat so you can still share a meal with others.

(4) Stay connected

On that note: Video chatting with your coworkers, friends, and family will help you feel connected even if you’re alone at home. Working from home can feel isolating, and it’s important to reach out and stay linked to both your work and personal communities. Even if you just need to chat with someone for a minute, call a coworker—they’re probably feeling the same way.

Seeing your coworkers’ faces will help everyone remember that we’re all in this together. (You can also set up a virtual happy hour to get the whole office together at once.) The most important thing is to remember you’re not alone.

(5) Check your infrastructure

Being able to work from home is entirely dependent on having secure access to the internet, so now is a good time to make sure your WiFi and router are running smoothly. Check to see if your router’s firmware is up-to-date—if you’ve had your router for more than five years, you might be in need of an upgrade. And if your network is being used by multiple people working from home at the same time, you especially want to make sure your connection is strong enough to handle all the extra traffic. If it needs a boost, call your ISP to negotiate a new service plan.

If you have the means to do so, it may also help to buy a USB dock, additional monitor, and accessories like a keyboard and mouse. Having the proper tools will help you stay on task, comfortable, and productive at home.

You may be in the comfort of your own home, but don’t forget about security. Check all your at-home devices to see if you’ve downloaded the most recent updates, which contain the latest security patches. And be sure to check your antivirus software to determine if it’s up to date, too.

Bonus tip: Stay organized with Omni

Everything we do at Omni is about helping you be productive, and our task management tool OmniFocus was designed to help you get things done. Add Actions (to-dos), group them by project, and use Perspectives to plan your day so you stay on track. (And since a little levity helps during stressful times, we won’t tell your boss if you use the app to organize things outside of work—like when it’s time to take the dog on a walk or plan a pillow fort with your kids.)

Download the app, and if you have any questions or feedback, please email support@omnigroup.com—our amazing Support Humans are standing by, ready to help.

Interested in learning more? We found research from Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and The Cleveland Clinic helpful in putting together this content.

The Omni Show: How Dr. Lyle Skains Uses OmniOutliner

by Brent Simmons on March 18, 2020

In the latest episode, we talk with Dr. Lyle Skains — Wales resident, friend to cats and dogs — about how she uses OmniOutliner for projects, notes, and bibliographies as she writes and researches digital and interactive fiction. This includes everything from old-school text-based adventure like Zork to new forms like the interactive “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”

Annette Fuller, Support Human and guest on an earlier episode of The Omni Show, joins as co-host this episode.

This episode runs overtime because Annette and the host had such a good time talking with the doctor — we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Team Subscriptions Now Available for OmniPlan, Other Apps Coming Soon

by Omni on March 2, 2020

Team subscriptions are a great new purchasing option that dramatically simplifies licensing for teams—and it’s available now in OmniPlan 3.14 for Mac (the pi release!) and OmniPlan 3.13 for iOS.

It’s not just for OmniPlan: Team subscriptions will be coming soon to the rest of our apps.

Update 6 Mar 2020: team subscriptions are now available for OmniFocus too!

Introducing Team Subscriptions

A team is a group of people subscribing to and paying for an app using a single subscription, rather than as individuals.

The team subscriptions option has several benefits:

  • It simplifies payment—a single bill covers all team members
  • It simplifies management—no need to track individual licenses
  • It reduces up-front investment—recurring costs are predictable

For some teams this is perfect, but it’s not for everybody. It’s important to remember that this is an option.

You can read more about purchasing and using team subscriptions on our support site.

If you have further questions about team subscriptions or the best way to purchase a license or multiple licenses, please email.

OmniPlan Changes

OmniPlan has addressed a compatibility issue importing some Microsoft Project files and added support for team subscriptions. Other fixes include enhanced stability, Omni Automation, Siri Shortcuts fixes, and more.

Read the OmniPlan for Mac change notes and OmniPlan for iOS change notes for the full scoop.