New OmniFocus Feature: Dropped Actions

by Brent Simmons on July 3, 2019

OmniFocus 3.4 for Mac, OmniFocus 3.3 for iOS, and OmniFocus for the Web have all been updated with a new dropped actions feature that we’re pretty excited about.

Here’s the idea: sometimes you decide not to do a given task. You could delete it, or you could mark it as completed — but neither of those things are exactly right. What you really want to do is to drop it.

This way it’s recorded as dropped. It hasn’t just disappeared; it hasn’t been erroneously recorded as a thing you’ve done. Instead, you have a record of a path not taken, and that record could be helpful to you in the future.

How To Use It

On the Mac, you can mark an action as dropped by option-clicking in its status circle. Or you can choose the menu command Edit > Status > Dropped. Or click the Dropped button in the Inspector (it’s the circle with a line in the middle). Or right-click or ctrl-click on an item and choose Status > Dropped. Or type the option-space keyboard shortcut.

On iOS, you can use the Inspector or type option-space — and you can use 3D Touch or the swipe menu.

On the web, you can set the status to dropped via the Inspector.

The Special Case of Repeating Actions

Let’s say one of the first things you do every morning at work is to read your CEO’s latest tweets.

You’ve set up an action to repeat every week, Monday through Friday. But what do you do on the Monday of Memorial Day? It’s a holiday, and so you don’t even check Twitter. Do you mark it as completed, so that the task for tomorrow is scheduled?

Well, now you can mark it as dropped, which will schedule the next repeat of that action. This way you don’t have a record of doing a thing you didn’t really do.

Note that when you drop a repeating action, the app asks if you want to drop it forever — Drop Completely — or just drop it this one time: Skip This Occurrence.

Screenshot of a sheet showing options to Drop Completely or just Skip This Occurrence.

Note: Database Migration Is Needed

This is important: this feature requires some changes to OmniFocus’s database format, which means you’ll have to migrate your database. And this does mean you’ll need the latest versions of OmniFocus everywhere that you use it.

Once you’ve upgraded, you can migrate your database, and then you’ll have this cool and useful new feature.

Other changes

Dropped actions is definitely not the only new feature or enhancement! Read the release notes for Mac and for iOS to get the full scoop.

And, as always, please contact support whenever you need help. We’re standing by.

Mac and iOS Public Betas and Omni Apps

by Brent Simmons on June 24, 2019

As Apple rolls out public betas for macOS and iOS, we want to remind people that those are, by definition, unfinished pieces of software, and that it’s entirely possible that you’ll run into bugs.

This is no criticism of Apple: the whole point of a public beta is to get help from the public with finding bugs.

But here’s the thing: some of those bugs might affect Omni apps. And apps from other developers too, of course. You could run into trouble getting your work done.

If you do want to run the public betas, the best way is to run them on a device other than your main device. Or, if on a Mac, you could install the beta in a separate partition.

In other words, running a public beta is great because you can help Apple find and fix bugs, which benefits everybody. But just remember that, as betas, they’re not deemed ready yet for day-to-day use.

Worth noting: we release public betas too — see our Omni Test Signups page. When we fix a compatibility issue with a macOS or iOS public beta, that fix will usually show up in one of our test builds first.

WWDC 2019 and Our Summer Plans

by Brent Simmons on June 14, 2019

Ken Case tweeted:

In the wake of WWDC 2019, our top priorities for this summer involve iPadOS/iOS 13:

  • Apps in Multiple Spaces (e.g. two documents or perspectives side by side)
  • Support for the new system-wide Dark Mode

Coming this fall to @OmniFocus @OmniGraffle @OmniOutliner @OmniPlan.

We’ll elaborate…

Multiple Spaces

Multiple spaces — or windows, or scenes — adds a very important capability to iPadOS: you can have, for instance, two OmniGraffle documents open at the same time in a split screen. Or two OmniFocus perspectives.

This is huge for productivity apps — it makes it more likely you can do all your work on an iPad, and we’re excited to be able to support that.

Apple’s page on iPadOS features lists this under “Multiple windows from the same app” (along with other new features).

If you’d like to learn more, there’s an entire WWDC video on the topic you can watch. (Though these videos are mainly for developers, they can still be interesting!)

Dark Mode

People love Dark Mode!

But we already knew that, and that’s why we have a head start: some of our apps already have their own dark mode implementations.

Now that Apple has created a system-wide Dark Mode for iOS, we’ll update our apps to make sure we’re following the principles and design that Apple has created, so that our apps look as great in Dark Mode as you’d expect.

And: we’ve noted that, for some people, Dark Mode is not just cool-looking — it’s an accessibility issue. Apple has always been great at making accessibility easy to implement for app developers, and we appreciate that. It’s important.

For more details about Dark Mode, check out the WWDC video Implementing Dark Mode on iOS. (While meant for developers, it’s still of interest to people curious about how apps work.)

Other Things

There will be compatibility bug fixes, of course, and some other smaller things to do to make sure our apps continue to work great on the upcoming updates to macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.

We have a busy summer! And we’re continuing to work on our other plans, too. Plenty of great new features are still to come. :)

For more WWDC talk, listen to — or read the transcript of — the recently-published episode of The Omni Show on WWDC 2019.

The Omni Show: WWDC 2019

by Brent Simmons on June 12, 2019

The big question every year for every Mac and iOS developer is pretty simple: how much work are we going to have to do this summer? We have to get our apps ready for the next iOS and macOS (and now iPadOS!) releases.

Well, we have some work to do. :) Not a crazy amount, but some.

But we love WWDC as much as everyone else, and we get excited by some of the new, unexpected things such as SwiftUI and other improvements to the tools. There was a ton of cool new stuff this year.

We talk about all of the above and more in the latest episode of The Omni Show. Enjoy!