Flat-File Format: A New Enhancement for Sync Service Compatibility

by Omni on June 3, 2020

In the previous version of OmniGraffle for Mac and iOS, some customers were unable to open files stored in sync with providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. These sync services do not support file packages—a common macOS format that treats a folder as a single file—so some users received a message that their selected file couldn’t be opened. Instead, file packages appeared as a regular folder or compressed zip file with the same file extension. Even if users didn’t experience direct issues, this bug would sometimes result in data loss while editing files synced with these services.

To work around this sync issue, many customers chose to store their documents using our single flat-file format—but this method was inefficient for handling attachments. Files were encoded into XML data—a significantly less efficient way to store files—and rewritten on each save. In this release, we’re introducing a new, single-file format (so you can still choose a file package) that performs better than the previous version and is fully compatible with sync services. We’ve unblocked the UI earlier in the saving process with this new zipped format—attachments are separate from the OmniGraffle XML data, so users can focus on their work without being concerned about file formats.

OmniGraffle files will be recognizable due to the .graffle extension, but users with versions of OmniGraffle before 7.16 and 3.14 won’t be able to open the zip format. It’s important to note this change if you’re working in a shared file environment or sending files to colleagues using older versions of OmniGraffle. For these situations, all legacy formats are available from the export panel, and existing legacy files will have the option to continue saving in the legacy format. We’re working hard to provide compatibility across platforms and accessible options for all.

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

OmniFocus 3.8 Launches with Support for Omni Automation

by Rosemary Orchard on May 28, 2020

The most powerful task management software on the market just got even more powerful! With Omni Automation, every user can leverage plug-ins and scripts to accomplish more every day, automating routine tasks and integrating with other tools and services. Omni Automation scripts work across Mac, iPhone, and iPad can be shared with others and can be written by anyone—using the same JavaScript language that powers dynamic web pages.

Screenshot of the Packing List plug-in

“We’ve always believed in the strength of iPad as a productivity platform, and in 2016 we set out to bring more of the power of our desktop apps to that transforming piece of glass,” explains Ken Case, co-founder and CEO of the Omni Group. “A key element of that power has always been user automation, and with Omni Automation we pioneered delivering a deeply integrated scripting environment which customers could use on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. With OmniFocus 3.8, Omni Automation is available for all of our Mac, iPad, and iPhone apps—and I can’t wait to see how our customers leverage this to build great custom solutions for themselves and their teams, saving significant time and increasing their productivity like never before.”

Omni Automation plugins and automation in OmniFocus Pro offer a level of customized automation previously not available on iOS. While the Mac has had support for AppleScript since it’s earliest days (and was started as a combination of OmniOutliner and AppleScript known as Kinkless GTD), this has left some of the most popular devices out of part of the automation loop. OmniFocus recently added more Shortcuts support, but Shortcuts, like AppleScript, are restricted to one platform—and they can’t offer the unique abilities that come from writing a script. Below are two example plug-ins you can download and use, or look at, to see how this new feature can enhance your OmniFocus workflows—on Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Now, with Omni Automation, plug-ins can be written once and will work the same on Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

Packing List Template

When you travel on a trip, one thing that is the same for most people every time is their packing list. You might add snorkels for a beach holiday, and the length of your trip likely determines a parka for a trip to Lapland, but the number of socks you take! You can create and use a plug-in to ask you how long your trip is, and have it use this information to generate a packing list for your trip. As well as smart entries on the list (like six pairs of socks for a six-night trip), it can also add static items (like your iPhone charging kit). Now you don’t need to worry about finding your template list or duplicating a base project and editing it—you can just run a plug-in.

Find out about this plug-in.

New Link-Back Task

In our complex world, we sometimes have tasks that are linked to or even depend on, each other. Ideally, these tasks would be connected to one another—so when you complete one, you can jump to the other and complete that too. With a plug-in, you can make a new inbox task which contains a link to your currently selected task in the notes—saving you the legwork of getting the link to the task and pasting it into the notes of the new task!

Find out about this plug-in.

Integration with OmniPlan, OmniGraffle, and OmniOutliner

All Omni Group applications now support JavaScript plug-ins—so you can transfer your data from one application to the other with ease. You can also turn a project in OmniFocus into a project plan in OmniPlan, a hierarchical diagram in OmniGraffle, or import templates from OmniOutliner.

We encourage you to explore existing plug-ins and the reference material in each app. Whether you’re an automation novice or a fully-fledged developer, we hope you enjoy OmniFocus 3.8.

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

OmniFocus 3.7 for iPhone and iPad Includes New Shortcuts

by Rosemary Orchard on April 20, 2020

OmniFocus 3.7 for iPhone and iPad is now available with several new actions for Today’s Forecast, Find Projects, and Find Tags Shortcuts.

New action for Today’s Forecast

The Today’s Forecast Shortcut now returns items from your Forecast perspective. Find Projects and Find Tags help you locate a project or tag by name, which you can use with our existing shortcuts to find or add items.

The Today’s Forecast action is brand new and returns all of the items from your Forecast view for today. This includes projects and tasks due today, as well as those with the tag you have selected to be included in your Forecast preferences.

Your daily forecast shortcut can be tailored to your needs—it can provide weather information, an overview of your calendar, or whatever type of overview you like. With the new Today’s Forecast action in Shortcuts, you can pull in information about daily tasks due, along with tagged items with your Forecast tag (or choose either of these individually). You can also include a count of these tasks in your daily overview in addition to the titles of the due tasks.

new shortcuts on OmniFocus 3.7 iPhone

Find Items faster

The Find Items action was introduced in OmniFocus 3.4 but has been updated in OmniFocus 3.7 to return the URL, allowing users to open that specific task. With the updated Find Items action, it’s now possible to add the URL to a note in a document, or simply open the URL to jump straight to the task.

New actions for Find Tags shortcut

With the Find Tags action, you can type in the name or partial name of any tag to find it. The Find Tags action returns one or more tagged objects—feed these items into the tags section of the Find Items action or use the URL for each tag to open it directly in OmniFocus. You can also use the output or multiples of this action with Add to Variable as a tag in the Add Item action.

Combining the Find Tags and Find Items actions in Shortcuts allows users to find items with one or more specific tasks. For example, in OmniFocus, I have some tags based on how much energy I have, which looks like this:

Find Tags and Find Items actions in Shortcuts

With a shortcut, I can be prompted for my energy level and then see which OmniFocus items might be well suited to boost it:

Shortcuts based on current energy level

New actions for Find Projects shortcut

The Find Projects action works in much the same way as the Find Tags action, just type in the name or partial name of any project to find it. Users can expand the action with Show More, then choose to find projects in a specific folder within their database. Return all of your projects (or projects within one or more folders) by leaving the text filter empty. Each returned project is an object—get the names of each project and the URL to view the project directly in OmniFocus. The Add Item action also accepts a project output from the Find Projects action as the input in the project section instead of hard coding a project or choosing it each time with the Ask Each Time variable.

Working with Database Objects

As OmniFocus now offers easy access to tags and projects, the Get Database Object from Input and Show Database Object in OmniFocus actions have been retired. The same functionality is available by opening the URL from the object of the OmniFocus Item (task, tag, or project).

OmniFocus 3.7 for iPhone and iPad underscores The Omni Group’s commitment to providing tools as powerful as you. Learn more about what’s included in this release.

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.

Export Infinite Canvases from OmniGraffle to Microsoft Visio

by Omni on April 14, 2020

OmniGraffle 7.15 for Mac and OmniGraffle 3.13 for iOS are now available. Both releases improve import and export accuracy and Microsoft Visio compatibility.


In a previous version of OmniGraffle, we introduced support for infinite canvases. However, OmniGraffle documents set up to use an infinite canvas did not export in a format that rendered correctly in Microsoft Visio. This release updates our Microsoft Visio export logic, so all items are now visible in Microsoft Visio and will automatically shift when exported from infinite canvases.

Images embedded in OmniGraffle documents are now embedded as PNGs when exporting to Microsoft Visio—offering a more efficient image format and resulting in significantly reduced file sizes.

This release also improves the text layout when exporting. Connection line paths now better match what’s shown in OmniGraffle. Customers can import more files without having them present an error or crashing. EMF image importing has also been improved.

We’re dedicated to providing tools as powerful as you. While there are still improvements to be made, we’re pleased to release OmniGraffle 7.15 for Mac and OmniGraffle 3.13 for iOS with improved Microsoft Visio compatibility. We know many people work with Windows users who create their work in Microsoft Visio, and we are working diligently to ensure compatibility.

These releases help you open and edit files from your colleagues—and send back updated copies with confidence that all work appears correctly in Microsoft Visio. These fixes are applicable to everyone, but are heavily focused on improvements for Pro users as Microsoft Visio import and export requires Pro.

Learn more about OmniGraffle 7.15 for Mac and OmniGraffle 3.13 for iOS in our Mac and iOS release notes.

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

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!