The Omni Show Returns with a New Host: Andrew Mason

by Omni on August 11, 2020

The Omni Show would not exist if not for our original podcast team, host Brent Simmons and producer Mark Boszko and their combined commitment to making it a success. We’re grateful to them, and although we recognize it will be the end of an era, we’re delighted to announce the return of The Omni Show—which will officially relaunch this fall—and introduce its new host, Andrew J. Mason. Andrew is a passionate podcaster and audio producer who has lent his voice to help elevate others for the past 12 years. Below, Andrew shares a little about himself, what he’s excited for as the new host, and the direction he’d like to take the show going forward.

How did you become the new host for The Omni Show?

Andrew: Before I became the producer and host for the GTD Podcast, I recall telling GTD creator David Allen I’m the best podcaster you’ve never heard of! I love anything that has to do with amplifying ideas. I’ve been an Omni superfan for a long time—OmniFocus is an integral part of my process for getting things done. I’ve interviewed Omni Group CEO Ken Case previously and I’ve always wanted to be the host for The Omni Show. A friend of mine encouraged me to ask Ken, and I’m excited to work with Omni in this capacity—they’re great people, they make great software, and it’s always been clear to me how much Ken truly cares about the people he serves.

In what direction are you planning to take the podcast?

A: The first episode features an interview with Ken, and I’m excited to have him as my first guest as the new host. Following that episode, I would like to share the stories of people who are passionate about using the software. I’m a diehard OmniFocus fan and I want to hear from others who are a part of this thriving community of professionals using these products to drive their lives. I want listeners to hear why and how other people use this software to do great work.

What are you hoping listeners take away from the show?

A: There are two levels: (1) Giving listeners an inside look into the company by sharing details about the software, new features, and all the exciting things happening, and (2) highlighting the passion found within the continually widening user base.

How would you describe your interview style?

A: I don’t do hardball-style interviews. I’m skilled in asking a question in a way that draws out an unexpected response, which often leads to a unique answer that surprises my guests.

What are you the most excited about as the new host of the podcast?

A: Outside of OmniFocus, I’m an entry-level user. I can’t wait to dive deep with guests and listeners. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to become an even more well-versed fan and learn more about Omni software with a community of people just as passionate about the products as I am. As a superfan, I’ll get the chance to pose questions to power users and bring that learning to other people. That’s what I’m passionate about—digging into things fans would like to know but wouldn’t get to hear anywhere else.

We’re excited to have Andrew join our team and look forward to sharing his talent and enthusiasm with our fans soon on The Omni Show. To learn more about what makes people so passionate about apps from the Omni Group, download OmniFocus for Mac. And if you have any questions or feedback, email support@omnigroup.com—our amazing Support Humans are standing by, ready to help.

New Features and Interface Refinements: Introducing OmniPlan 4

by Omni on July 15, 2020

Managing complexity just got even easier with OmniPlan 4 for Mac. We’ve added to OmniPlan’s ease of use and its existing interactive Gantt chart, powerful task scheduling options, network view, and automatic project scheduling. OmniPlan 4 introduces interval cost and effort tracking, new scheduling features such as recurring and manually scheduled tasks, and a new assistant to help set up project schedules. In addition to these powerful new features, a wide range of improvements have been made throughout the app, making OmniPlan easier to use than ever before for day-to-day project management tasks—no matter how complex your project is. And for the first time ever, your purchase of OmniPlan 4 now includes licenses for both Mac and iOS (plus a free 14-day trial).

Highlights:

New project assistant: Get help creating a new project with a setup assistant.

Recurring tasks: Tasks can now be scheduled to occur daily, weekly, monthly, or at yearly intervals.

Interval tracking: Cost and effort tokens can now be added as labels below tasks in the Gantt chart or displayed in the Gantt header. These tokens can display the total cost or effort for the current time increment or the cumulative total cost or effort up to that time increment. Interval tracking data can be configured and included in CSV and OmniOutliner exports.

Task roll up: Group tasks can be set to “When closed, roll up children” in the Task Inspector. With this option selected, the group is collapsed and sub-tasks and milestones are displayed in a single line.

Manual task scheduling: Manually scheduled tasks use the start and end dates you provide (OmniPlan will not automatically reschedule them).

File type: Projects can be saved as flat files or package files—a new enhancement for sync service compatibility with certain cloud services and network storage systems like Dropbox and Box.

Automatic light/dark modes: Projects created with default templates automatically switch between light and dark mode when your system changes modes.

Project outline views: Stay on track with the new project outline view for dedicated top-level projects.

Unified Resource View: Project and resource work hour customization are consolidated into an enhanced Resource View, providing easier access to existing functionality. This release also introduces a new schedule exception popover and customized day list, which allows for titling schedule exceptions and creating exceptions for any length of time.

Inspectors: Updated appearance, layout, and organization for inspectors increases discoverability and improves access to functionality.

  • Updated Task Schedule Inspector: Support for scheduling tasks manually has been added to the Task Schedule Inspector. Workflow for setting up task constraints has been updated, and task baseline information is now split into a new Task Baseline Inspector.

  • New Task Scheduling Influences Inspector: The functionality previously offered by the “Show Scheduling Influences” popover now displays in a dedicated Task Inspector.

  • Overhauled Styles Inspector: Redesigned to offer easy access to all advanced styling functionality in one place, the updated Styles Inspector replaces OmniPlan 3’s Styles View.

  • Unified Custom Data Inspector: Updated Custom Data and Attachment Inspectors have been consolidated into a single inspector.

  • Violation column: Collapsed groups containing a violation now display the Violation icon in the Violation column.

  • Outline behavior: Documents now remember when “Collapse When Not Editing” outline behavior has been previously selected.

Scheduling: Project schedules are more efficient and accurate than ever with multiple scheduling improvements.

Notice bars: Appearance has been updated for Change Tracking, Filtering, Monte Carlos Simulation, and Import notice bars.

View customization: Reorganized view-customization options are easier to find and customize.

Additional highlights for PRO users include:

  • Change tracking: Updated for improved reliability.

  • Reports window: Updated appearance and layout of HTML Reports window.

  • Omni Automation: Support for automation via the JavaScript plug-in has been updated. Learn more about our automation enhancements and other changes in the API Reference Release Notes.

In addition to the current available purchasing options for OmniPlan, cross-platform individual subscriptions for OmniPlan Pro are also available for purchase for $19.99 a month or $199.99 for an entire year.

If you’re interested in syncing OmniPlan 4 for Mac projects with OmniPlan on an iOS device, sign up for OmniPlan 4 for iOS TestFlight. Due to changes in OmniPlan’s scheduling logic and file format, we do not recommend syncing OmniPlan 4 projects with OmniPlan 3 for Mac or iOS.

We hope you enjoy OmniPlan 4—another example of our continued commitment to providing tools as powerful as you. Download the app for Mac, and if you have any questions or feedback, email support@omnigroup.com—our amazing Support Humans are standing by, ready to help.

The Difference Between a Prototype and Wireframe

by Omni on June 25, 2020

You’ve got an idea—you did the hard work of coming up with an app, website, or brand-new product. Now it’s time to figure out how to share it. Wireframes and prototypes are tools that are relatively easy to create and can help you visualize the functions and possibilities for your concept. Here, we’ll explain what wireframes and prototypes are, the uses for both, and how they differentiate—so you can determine which is best for your project and build a plan to share your idea with the world.

What is a wireframe?

A wireframe is a static, basic sketch of your website, which makes it the perfect visual starting point during the brainstorming process. Rectangles or squares are used as placeholders to show the location of potential graphics, buttons, or text, and the accompanying lines connecting these shapes indicate the order of information shared on each page.

There are two different types of wireframes: low-fidelity (lo-fi) and high-fidelity (hi-fi). A lo-fi wireframe will help you map out the basic schematics of your site in black and white. In contrast, a hi-fi wireframe is typically constructed after a lo-fi wireframe and presented in grayscale—this simulates actual color tones to help you better visualize the final version. Think of the hi-fi wireframe as a more detailed blueprint of your concept that will give viewers a better understanding of the look, feel, and functionality of your site. Hi-fi wireframes often contain no content or some placeholder content, such as lorem ipsum, typeface preferences, and specific dimensions for images.

Both types of wireframes are useful during the creative process and can be produced using design tools like OmniGraffle. If you’re starting from scratch, sketch a lo-fi wireframe to establish the basic layout of your site and hone in on the essential hierography of information. Then, create a hi-fi wireframe to explore more of the UI and UX details. Keep in mind that simplicity is key when creating a wireframe—don’t worry about aesthetics. Your goal is to quickly communicate your idea by constructing a simplified visual representation of your design.

Wireframe for the Difference Between a Prototype and Wireframe

What is a prototype?

A prototype is an interactive model or simulation that demonstrates how the finished website or app will work. The primary goal of a prototype is to test the design and functionality of your concept before moving on to the next phase of development. Creating a prototype might seem like a waste of time, but it’s a crucial step in discovering potential flaws and can save you time and money in the long run.

Like wireframes, prototypes also differ in complexity—lo-fi or hi-fi—based on the level of interactivity that’s possible (e.g., how many buttons can be clicked), visual design, and content. Lo-fi prototypes are often paper sketches with some basic visual attributes (rectangles, boxes, and buttons) representing the order of information, and the interactivity is simulated by a person. More realistic in appearance and with a higher degree of functionality, hi-fi prototypes are computer-generated simulations that look and feel like the final product—all interface elements (animations, graphics, colors, and content) are included with interactive clickable hotspots for users to experience the site.

Creating a prototype allows you to test and tweak the functionality of your design and discover any features you may want to add to your product before entering the final phase of design. Prototypes take more time to construct than wireframes, but the feedback gained through user interaction can be invaluable. The more realistic your prototype is, the more in-depth feedback you’ll gain for future iterations.

Prototype

Understanding the difference between a wireframe and a prototype will help you determine which one best suits your needs. Using these design tools to map out and communicate the usability and functionality of your concept—and test your product—will save you time and resources and take you one step closer to production.

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.