Omni Roadmap 2021

by Ken Case on January 21, 2021

For the past decade, part of our January routine has been to publish our roadmap, reviewing the progress we made in the past year and sharing our plans for the upcoming year. Last year was anything but routine: our lives were turned upside down by the global pandemic. We truly hope that each of you, wherever you are, remain safe and well.

The pandemic forced us to close the office and work as a distributed team from our homes, rethinking and reinventing a lot of our own processes for collaboration. Some changes we made may only be temporary, but undoubtedly some may become permanent. And all these changes have made us more reliant on technology than ever. (We still have the same meeting schedule as we had before, but all of our meetings are now held over video.)

We do look forward to getting together in person again, but it’s clear that remote collaboration will have a permanent place in this changing world. Remote teamwork is more important than ever, and this experience has inspired us to think hard about how teams might best leverage our apps to work together. (I look forward to sharing more about that in a future roadmap update!)


Last year, we finished adding Omni Automation to all our apps, providing support for plug-ins and scripts which can run on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. These scripts can integrate with other apps and services, and customers are already using Omni Automation to do things like synchronize their Jira tickets with their OmniFocus database. (Looking ahead, we plan to make these plug-ins even easier to build with: new APIs to store credentials and other data, new APIs to integrate with native reminders and appointments, TypeScript definitions for improved editor integration, and so on.)

We shipped OmniPlan 4 for Mac, building on OmniPlan’s already-powerful features by adding some of the top-requested features from our project manager customers: interval cost and effort tracking, recurring and manually scheduled tasks, and more.

We improved the licensing process for teams and eliminated some tedium by eliminating license codes from our online store. Rather than asking customers to keep track of license codes for each purchase (resulting in hundreds of codes for some teams), each person can simply sign in to access their license. Team administrators can see all the seats their team owns, and can add and remove team members at any time. We’ve seen great adoption from teams using this feature—and some of our larger customers are even using their own “single sign-on” servers to centralize their team management.

For customers who prefer to pay for software month-by-month (or year-by-year) rather than paying up front for a major version of the app, we now offer both individual and team subscriptions as purchasing options alongside those traditional up-front licenses. Up-front licenses still offer the best value in the long term; but for short-term needs, $12.49 for a month of OmniGraffle Pro is a great value.

We added enhanced Scribble support to OmniOutliner on iPadOS 14, and customizable OmniFocus widgets on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

We added custom perspectives and Quick Open to OmniFocus for the Web, making it easier to focus your attention on the things that need doing right now and to tune out the things that can wait. (Next up: sidebar drag and drop, and more keyboard shortcuts!)

The year ended on a high note for the Mac, with new M1-powered Macs beginning the transition to Apple silicon. We were honored to take part in Apple’s launch event for Apple M1, with OmniGraffle and our other apps specifically called out alongside Adobe’s, and we had our entire Omni Productivity Suite ready and available for M1 and macOS Big Sur on the day they shipped—with new updates to OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and OmniPlan. (And these new M1-powered Macs are just amazing. Apple has only updated their entry-level Macs, with the new MacBook Air and Mac mini—but they’re able to compile and build our apps faster than the latest Mac Pro! Our latest updates run incredibly well on these new Macs, and we’ve already purchased new M1-powered Macs for our entire team.)


The releases I describe above are just the visible aspects of our work. The transition to making our apps native for M1-powered Macs was an easy step, but only because of the quiet, behind-the-scenes investment of significant effort each year to keep our technical underpinnings up to date with Apple’s latest platform updates—for all four of our product lines across all three operating systems for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. That’s millions of lines of hand-written code to maintain—not a trivial task!

Without that investment, our apps would quickly become dated—as you can see when you use an older version of an app on the latest version of an operating system. Technically, you can still use our older OmniGraffle 6 release on Big Sur—but you’d be missing out on many years’ worth of maintenance. You might think that that would simply mean that the app was frozen in time, that you’d simply be missing out on the many improvements we’ve made over those years. And if you’re still running macOS 10.11 “El Capitan”, you’d be right! But the operating system has changed in many significant ways since El Capitan—with Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, and now 11 Big Sur—and we’ve spent years updating and tuning OmniGraffle 7 to work with those changes. OmniGraffle 6 doesn’t just miss out on the new features we’ve introduced each year; it also runs significantly slower on recent operating systems than it did when it originally shipped (on macOS 10.8 “Mountain Lion”).

Trying to run older versions of our apps on the latest operating system is similar to trying to run a classic automobile on modern unleaded gasoline: technically, you might be able to do it—but it’s not going to give you the great experience you would get if it were running on the fuel it was built to use!


While making sure our apps stay current, this past year we’ve also been focusing a lot of thought on how to make our apps’ user experience more elegant and smooth, and how to continually reduce friction.

In July’s roadmap update, I shared that our behind-the-scenes work this year would go even deeper than usual. We’ve spent the past 20 years working with macOS 10, writing millions of lines of code. With macOS 11, we now have quite a few new technologies which weren’t available just a few short years ago. Frameworks like SwiftUI make it easier to design and build an app which behaves consistently across all of Apple’s platforms, while adapting behavior to leverage the strengths of each platform.

As I said in that update: if we were building a new app today, the best way to invest in the future of our products would be to take full advantage of these new frameworks rather than continuing to build on older technology. And if we want our products to stay relevant for another twenty years, I believe that adopting the latest technologies is the right move for them as well.

Since writing that back in July, we’ve taken a step back to think about how we would design and build our apps if we were starting again now, building on the latest technologies and taking into account everything we’ve learned from our customers about how you use our apps. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is that each person uses our apps differently. Some want to go deep in just one specific area, but want to use the rest at a lighter level. It’s important to keep our products easy to approach for those who don’t need to go deep.

Using SwiftUI, we’ve started creating new outline views for OmniPlan and OmniFocus—bringing even more of the power we’ve come to expect from our Mac apps to our iPad and iPhone apps. With these views, you will be able to edit your task outlines in place (rather than constantly shifting between viewing the outline and editing in an inspector), and you will be able to collapse and expand items at any level—all with full keyboard support, making edits as fluid on iPad keyboards as they are today on the Mac.

OmniPlan outline


Since our world is constantly changing, a roadmap is never a perfect prediction of the future—but I hope this gives you some sense of our direction: where we’ve been, what we’re working on today, and where we’re headed next.

Redesigning and rebuilding our apps based on the latest Apple technologies is the primary focus of all of our teams right now, and I can’t wait to share the first fruits of that labor with you as we ship new builds of each of our apps—starting with the new outline view coming in this month’s TestFlight builds of OmniPlan 4 for iPad and iPhone.


(At the Omni Group, we make powerful productivity apps which help you accomplish more every day. Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Twitter at @kcase, or send me email at kc@omnigroup.com.)

OmniFocus Essentials: Back to Basics

by Ken Case on January 15, 2021

OmniFocus can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. It’s essentially an outline of tasks that can be tagged and filtered in different ways. This makes it incredibly flexible—much like paper—which lets it grow with your needs.

What does OmniFocus do, and how does it actually help you get things done? I know this is a tautology, but for something to be called a “to do list” it has to include (drumroll, please) a list of things to do! That list is the starting point for any tool that helps you stay on top of the work you need to get done.

OmniFocus starts with that basic functionality: it provides an Inbox where you can list things to do. It also provides lots of easy capturing mechanisms to help you get things into that Inbox:

  • You can add tasks by asking Siri to add a reminder.
  • You can forward email to your OmniFocus mail drop.
  • With a single keystroke you can open Quick Entry to create a new inbox item. Simply write down what you need to do, then press Return to capture that task and dismiss the capture window—returning to whatever you were working on without undue distraction.

When you open OmniFocus, you’ll can easily see all those captured items in your Inbox. You can drag them around (or use convenient keyboard shortcuts) to reorder them into your preferred order, and you can check them off to mark that you’re done with them.

We’ve designed OmniFocus to be a flexible and powerful system that can grow as your needs grow, helping you focus on what matters as your list outgrows that simple Inbox. But if your current workload is simple, you can stop right there! Capturing things in your Inbox and checking them off as you do them are all you need to know to start accomplishing more every day using OmniFocus. (Install OmniFocus, and begin your free two-week trial today!)


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

The Omni Show: How Jason Atwood Uses OmniFocus - Part 2

by andrewjmason on January 11, 2021



Jason Atwood is COO and one of the founders of Arkus, Inc., a Salesforce consulting partner. He returns on this episode to provide some tips and tricks for the new year…direct from his OmniFocus system. For his entire team of 40 employees, Jason’s own passion for a combined OmniFocus and GTD approach has become the company operating system. The entire culture is fluent in this airtight approach that makes their clients feel heard and valued.
He returns on this episode to provide some personal OmniFocus tips and tricks for the new year…direct from his setup.  Jason and Andrew cover stress management via statistics, the power of a consistent weekly review, what insights a 40-person test lab provides, and how Jason spent his 50th birthday party.

To learn more about how Jason uses OmniFocus to stay productive—tune in to The Omni Show.

Achieve more of your goals when you download OmniFocus for Mac and iOS—and if you have any questions or feedback, email support@omnigroup.com. Our amazing Support Humans are standing by, ready to help.

Ken Case Joins 58keys to Talk About OmniOutliner

by Omni on December 22, 2020

Ken Case (our CEO) was invited onto the 58Keys podcast to discuss how he uses OmniOutliner for writing with William Gallagher, a bona fide writer’s writer, and Deputy Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

About recording the podcast, Mr. Gallagher said, “I think Ken is so interesting in the interview. He is a joyous treat.” He further explained that OmniOutliner is “the outlining app for writers whether they like outlining or not. OmniOutliner is an ideas manager, a way to massage the mess in our writing minds out into a message, whether that’s a novel, script or an event. Ken explains what the app brings for writers, reveals why the Omni Group created it, and gives just a little hint about where it’s going next.”

And here’s what Mr. Gallagher wrote about the podcast in advance of it:

Speaking of software, Ken Case from the Omni Group agreed to talk about his firm’s major writing app, OmniOutliner. Today is the first day in months I haven’t opened OmniOutliner, but only because it’s early. I know for certain that later today I will be planning out two complicated articles in it, for instance.

Actually, that might be the moment in next week’s more than two hours of interviews that tickled me the most. Ken confessed that he’d prepared for the interview by making some notes in OmniOutliner –– and I had to confess right back that so had I. We both had this app on our screens throughout. Love that software.

You can watch the entire episode right here:

And you can try OmniOutliner for 14-days or learn more about OmniOutliner here.

The Omni Show: How Oogie McGuire Uses OmniFocus

by andrewjmason on December 21, 2020



Today on The Omni Show, we talk with shepherdess Oogie McGuire. She guides a flock of Black Welsh Mountain sheep at her farm in Colorado. When she’s not farming, she can be found digitally archiving community photos, curating her Animal Tracker database, or thoughtfully planning and processing her business’s next steps.


In this episode, Oogie perfectly blends the organic and technological worlds as she shares the nuances of her OmniFocus system and how they assist her farming practice. Her stylized approach to fully embracing particular features and mindfully eschewing others is intriguing and unique.

To learn more about how Oogie uses OmniFocus to stay productive—tune in to The Omni Show.

Achieve more of your goals when you download OmniFocus for Mac and iOS—and if you have any questions or feedback, email support@omnigroup.com. Our amazing Support Humans are standing by, ready to help.