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.

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.

Highlights:

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.

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.

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.

Our Four Favorite Books About Productivity and Project Management

by Omni on February 13, 2020

Effective project management is crucial to the success of any business—and keeping yourself sane—but establishing a healthy balance between the priorities of competing tasks and the rigors of work and personal life is the key to doing it effectively. Easier said than done. It takes a little help. In this article, three people from around Omni HQ share their favorite books about project management and productivity. We hope the insightful tips they gained will help you deal with your own distractions, stress, and burnout.

We’re sure you’ve heard of the productivity bible “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” by David Allen. (If you haven’t, “Getting Things Done,” or GTD, is a system for managing everything—from your day to day stuff, to the big goals you don’t yet know how to accomplish.) We haven’t included it here so we can introduce some books that may be new to you, but the methodology is the inspiration for OmniFocus and it’s definitely at the top of our favorites list. There was also an excellent adaptation of the book released in 2018 that contextualizes the GTD principles for young people, helping them navigate social pressures, overcome procrastination, and plan for their futures. That one’s called “Getting Things Done for Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World,” by David Allen, Mark Wallace, and Mike Williams.

(1) “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle,” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski

I found “Burnout” helpful because it acknowledges the patriarchal society we live in and offers insightful and actionable advice for women navigating the workplace. I’ve read many books on project management from a man’s point of view, and I appreciated the viewpoints and unique challenges shared from a woman’s perspective. I loved the conversational (and often humorous) way these two sisters approach the subject of effective project management.

“This book has shifted my priorities. I’ve learned how to not feel guilty when I take time to be with my daughter. It’s okay to just have fun—and to schedule time for fun. I’ve finally figured out how to compartmentalize what society considers important, and I now take time for what is truly important to me.

Effective project management is impossible when you don’t take time to rest, and the Nagoski sisters focus on the importance of taking a moment to reset and recharge. We need to be conscious of how we schedule our days. My takeaway from these two authors is that it’s OK to take a break to refresh your mind. “Burnout” presents the science that backs up the connection between taking time to reset and effective project management in an approachable manner.

“Burnout” was written with women in mind, but it’s really for anyone who struggles with setting time aside to take a breath and restore your reserves. Now when I take time to rest, I can flip the work switch back on revitalized and focused, which makes me a more effective project manager.

—Annette Fuller, Support Human

(2) “Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus When You’re Drowning in Your Daily Life,” by Jessica Abel

“Growing Gills” is a fantastic book for creatives feeling bogged down with ideas, and Abel offers helpful suggestions for how to prioritize your to-do list. (I also love that the author shared she uses OmniFocus to stay organized.) Abel has good ideas on how to say “no”—something that’s hard to do in the workplace (or at all). She also talks about why multitasking isn’t the best way to get things done.

I identify as being on the ADHD spectrum, and dealing with inner and outer distractions is a skill I’ve learned throughout my journey. This book helped me develop a plan for staying focused on one thing when I’m juggling several different tasks. I’m now more aware of the complexities that one thing might require, and I schedule time accordingly to deal with unexpected challenges.

I appreciate how this author presents actionable solutions for project management with the creative in mind. If you’re drowning in ideas, “Growing Gills” offers terrific insights about how to master the skills needed to bring your creative ideas to fruition. Nothing in life or at the workplace is as simple as it seems, but if you know how to prioritize what’s important, you’ll accomplish more than you ever imagined.

—Mark Boszko, Video Producer

(3) “Extreme Ownership,” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

“Extreme Ownership” changed my perspective on how to be a better manager. I started owning my mistakes the moment they happened and working on finding ways to implement positive changes in real-time. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is not being self-aware of problems requiring personal change. I now know how to be an agent of change to elevate my team’s productivity.

Reading “Extreme Ownership” has also impacted the way I communicate and how I help others speak up. I’ve learned the importance of creating a safe place to talk. All too often people are afraid of sharing their ideas. This book has given me effective strategies on how to get everyone on the team to contribute, which is when true collaboration and innovation within an organization happens.

The frank way these two Navy SEALs compare and contrast business scenarios with their military training made it easier for me to connect with the real-life examples they share. This is recommended reading for anyone looking for practical and actionable strategies to effectively lead and communicate with others.

—Grayson West, Design Manager

(4) “Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean,” by Kim Scott

OK, this one is cheating—it’s not technically about project management, but it does provide a lot of valuable tips regarding communication strategies and techniques for empowering teams to succeed. It’s kind of project-management adjacent. I found Scott’s insights on how to be a caring and effective leader impactful. This book has fantastic advice about how to offer praise and constructive criticism to help your team grow. Respectful and kind relationships are possible in the workplace, and it’s the secret of success for many leaders I respect.

—Grayson West, Design Manager