Omni Roadmap Update: September, 2019

by Ken Case on September 12, 2019

Welcome! With iOS and iPadOS 13 right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to share the latest news regarding our plans for 2019.

In January’s roadmap, I shared that we would be launching OmniFocus for the Web, along with the optional OmniFocus subscriptions needed to support that service. We successfully launched on May 28, and the service has been very stable as we’ve scaled up to thousands of subscribers and added new features like Forecast, new keyboard shortcuts, support for Dropped Actions, and localizations for German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Simplified Chinese.

Of course, the bulk of our attention remains focused on our native apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The OmniFocus team has been working towards collaboration, adding support for Dropped Actions which we feel is an important status to communicate when sharing tasks. The OmniGraffle team shipped a new wrap-to-shape text formatting feature early in the year, then spent several months focused on improving drawing performance in the Mac app. And the OmniPlan team added support for Omni Automation, which lets our Pro customers build their own custom app integrations, workflow improvements, and reports using cross-platform JavaScript that runs on both Mac and iOS.

All of the above was according to the plan we laid out in January. But we always know going into the year that our plans will need to change mid-year—and right on schedule, in the first week of June, Apple announced new operating system features which would be shipping in the Fall. So we paused work on our January roadmap, making and sharing new summer plans which were all focused on updates to our iPhone and iPad apps. We also decided that this was the right time to adopt Apple’s standard document browser.

Which brings us to the present! Apple has announced that iOS 13 will be shipping next week, with iPadOS 13 following along at the end of the month. So we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled roadmap soon. But what have we been working on all summer? What have we been doing to prepare for iOS 13?

Well, first of all, we think it’s essential to make sure we have apps that behave well on iOS 13 on the day it launches—so we have a few small bug-fix updates that will be shipping before iOS 13 ships, such as the OmniFocus 3.3.6 update that is currently in TestFlight.

But while these day-one bug fix updates are important, we have much bigger updates coming to each of our apps which we’ll be shipping as soon as possible! When I look at the work we did across our apps this summer, I classify it into three broad areas of change:

  1. We added support for the new native Dark Mode in iOS 13. This means that we had to review and update nearly every pixel our apps draw to the screen, since those pixels now have to draw in different colors based on the user’s chosen preference—and also have to be ready for those preferences to change on the fly.

  2. We added support for multiple active windows from the same app in iPadOS 13. The platform never supported that feature in the past, and every bit of logic which managed application state and user interactions had to be updated to support the possibility of user interactions coming from and going to multiple windows at once.

  3. Adopting Apple’s standard document browser (replacing the home-grown browser we’ve been using since iOS 3.2) meant that we needed to change much of the code which reads or writes or syncs our documents. Of course this affects the main document being edited, but it also affected the template chooser for new documents, the stencil browser in OmniGraffle, and the theme picker in OmniOutliner.

That’s a lot of change. We touched pretty much everything involving drawing, managing document/application state, or reading/writing/syncing data. (And that’s just the general cross-app overview. Specific apps had other specific work to do for other operating system changes—like the vastly improved Shortcuts in OmniFocus, or the gestures overhaul in OmniGraffle to avoid conflicts with some of Apple’s new system-wide gestures.)

If you’re impatient to try out these great new features, and don’t mind living on the edge, we currently have public TestFlight builds for OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, and OmniGraffle which you can download and start using today. We also have a public iOS 13 TestFlight for OmniFocus, which is focused on its bug fix release today but will be switching over to its feature update very soon.

For any long-time customers who might still be running our older v2 apps for iOS, please know that you’re welcome to continue using those older apps as long as you wish—the license you’ve purchased will never expire. But you’re responsible for maintaining an environment where those apps can run—and if you’ve been reading closely, you may have noted that even our current v3 apps needed to be updated in order to be compatible with iOS 13. Our older v2 apps haven’t been sold in quite some time, and are no longer being maintained—so I’m afraid they’re not going to be compatible with iOS 13. If you’re planning to upgrade to iOS 13, please also make sure you plan to upgrade your v2 app to the current version. (Our v3 apps come with free two-week trials, and every v2 customer is eligible for a 50% upgrade discount!)

For customers who have already purchased our current v3 apps: these updates, major as they are, are absolutely free. Thank you for your support, and we hope you enjoy Dark Mode, multiple windows, more flexibility in where you keep your documents, and more!

(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at

OmniGraffle with iOS 13 Features Now in TestFlight

by Brent Simmons on September 11, 2019

If you’re running a beta of iOS 13, and would help us out with testing OmniGraffle, we’d appreciate it! You can sign up to get OmniGraffle via TestFlight.

The biggest change is that OmniGraffle now uses the standard iOS document browser, which we’re adopting for our document-based apps. (This includes OmniOutliner and OmniPlan, already in TestFlight.)

This means you’ll be able to sync your documents using iCloud Drive or with third-party services such as Box — or host your own content via Git or WebDAV with apps such as Working Copy. If you‘re already syncing using OmniPresence, you can continue to use that as well.

Other iOS 13 features added in this TestFlight include:

  • Dark Mode: when the system is set to Dark Mode, OmniGraffle’s interface will appear dark (but it won’t touch your document colors)
  • Multiple windows (multitasking): work simultaneously on different documents using multiple spaces on iPadOS.
  • Context Menus: perform common actions quickly, via 3D Touch or a touch-and-hold gesture

Remember to always take care before installing beta software, particularly beta iOS (and macOS) releases. But if you do decide to help us test, please let us know how it goes: email or let us know on the #omnigraffle channel on the Slack group. Thanks!

But, before you go — here’s a screenshot showing OmniGraffle in Dark Mode:

Screenshot showing OmniGraffle running in iOS 13 Dark Mode.

The Omni Show: Reid Callan, OmniFocus Engineer

by Brent Simmons on September 11, 2019

On the latest episode of The Omni Show, Reid Callan joins the show to talk about adopting iOS 13 features in OmniFocus, which has been a big focus of this summer.

Reid started at The Omni Group as an intern, went back to school, then returned as an employee after graduation. Reid has two pets: Scout, a golden retriever, and Keiko, a very cool cat — and, when he’s not writing software or taking Scout for a walk, he plays basketball. And Destiny.


Testers Wanted! OmniPlan and OmniOutliner with iOS 13 Features Now in TestFlight

by Brent Simmons on September 5, 2019

OmniPlan and OmniOutliner with new iOS 13 features are now available via TestFlight! We’d love to have your help testing them — you can sign up for OmniOutliner or sign up for OmniPlan (or both!). These builds require iOS 13.

Both apps now use Apple’s standard document browser, replacing our older home-grown document browser.

We wrote about this in our late-July blog post Adopting Apple’s Standard iOS Document Browser:

In 2019, we think it’s time to retire our custom document browser in favor of using Apple’s built-in document browser—and with our iOS 13 updates this fall we’ll be doing just that. Instead of seeing our custom file browser, you’ll be presented with the standard iOS document browser—just like in Apple’s own iWork apps. Using Apple’s browser, you’ll be able to store and sync your documents using Apple’s built-in iCloud Drive, or third-party commercial options like Box—or even in cloud- or self-hosted collaborative git repositories using Working Copy.

There are a number of other iOS 13 features now supported:

  • Multiple windows (multitasking): you can now work simultaneously on projects (OmniPlan) or outlines (OmniOutliner) in multiple spaces on iPadOS.
  • Dark Mode: now used when the system’s appearance is set to dark
  • Context Menus: you can perform common actions quickly, via 3D Touch or a touch-and-hold gesture (OmniPlan only)

Here‘s a “Show All Windows” screenshot showing window groupings, Dark Mode, and the new document browser.

Screenshot showing several window groupings, running in Dark Mode.

Having support for these important features in testing gets us a long way toward delivering on our WWDC 2019 summer plans, and we very much appreciate your help by signing up for TestFlight builds.

But we should remind you that these apps are test builds running in iOS 13 — which is also a test build — and you may run into bugs nobody could anticipate. So please do use your judgment when deciding to install unfinished software. Thanks!

Also note: you can sign up to help test OmniFocus and OmniGraffle for iOS, but we don’t have test builds ready just yet.