Omni Roadmap Update: September, 2019

by Ken Case on September 12, 2019

Welcome! With iOS and iPadOS 13 right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to share the latest news regarding our plans for 2019.

In January’s roadmap, I shared that we would be launching OmniFocus for the Web, along with the optional OmniFocus subscriptions needed to support that service. We successfully launched on May 28, and the service has been very stable as we’ve scaled up to thousands of subscribers and added new features like Forecast, new keyboard shortcuts, support for Dropped Actions, and localizations for German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Simplified Chinese.

Of course, the bulk of our attention remains focused on our native apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The OmniFocus team has been working towards collaboration, adding support for Dropped Actions which we feel is an important status to communicate when sharing tasks. The OmniGraffle team shipped a new wrap-to-shape text formatting feature early in the year, then spent several months focused on improving drawing performance in the Mac app. And the OmniPlan team added support for Omni Automation, which lets our Pro customers build their own custom app integrations, workflow improvements, and reports using cross-platform JavaScript that runs on both Mac and iOS.

All of the above was according to the plan we laid out in January. But we always know going into the year that our plans will need to change mid-year—and right on schedule, in the first week of June, Apple announced new operating system features which would be shipping in the Fall. So we paused work on our January roadmap, making and sharing new summer plans which were all focused on updates to our iPhone and iPad apps. We also decided that this was the right time to adopt Apple’s standard document browser.

Which brings us to the present! Apple has announced that iOS 13 will be shipping next week, with iPadOS 13 following along at the end of the month. So we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled roadmap soon. But what have we been working on all summer? What have we been doing to prepare for iOS 13?

Well, first of all, we think it’s essential to make sure we have apps that behave well on iOS 13 on the day it launches—so we have a few small bug-fix updates that will be shipping before iOS 13 ships, such as the OmniFocus 3.3.6 update that is currently in TestFlight.

But while these day-one bug fix updates are important, we have much bigger updates coming to each of our apps which we’ll be shipping as soon as possible! When I look at the work we did across our apps this summer, I classify it into three broad areas of change:

  1. We added support for the new native Dark Mode in iOS 13. This means that we had to review and update nearly every pixel our apps draw to the screen, since those pixels now have to draw in different colors based on the user’s chosen preference—and also have to be ready for those preferences to change on the fly.

  2. We added support for multiple active windows from the same app in iPadOS 13. The platform never supported that feature in the past, and every bit of logic which managed application state and user interactions had to be updated to support the possibility of user interactions coming from and going to multiple windows at once.

  3. Adopting Apple’s standard document browser (replacing the home-grown browser we’ve been using since iOS 3.2) meant that we needed to change much of the code which reads or writes or syncs our documents. Of course this affects the main document being edited, but it also affected the template chooser for new documents, the stencil browser in OmniGraffle, and the theme picker in OmniOutliner.

That’s a lot of change. We touched pretty much everything involving drawing, managing document/application state, or reading/writing/syncing data. (And that’s just the general cross-app overview. Specific apps had other specific work to do for other operating system changes—like the vastly improved Shortcuts in OmniFocus, or the gestures overhaul in OmniGraffle to avoid conflicts with some of Apple’s new system-wide gestures.)

If you’re impatient to try out these great new features, and don’t mind living on the edge, we currently have public TestFlight builds for OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, and OmniGraffle which you can download and start using today. We also have a public iOS 13 TestFlight for OmniFocus, which is focused on its bug fix release today but will be switching over to its feature update very soon.

For any long-time customers who might still be running our older v2 apps for iOS, please know that you’re welcome to continue using those older apps as long as you wish—the license you’ve purchased will never expire. But you’re responsible for maintaining an environment where those apps can run—and if you’ve been reading closely, you may have noted that even our current v3 apps needed to be updated in order to be compatible with iOS 13. Our older v2 apps haven’t been sold in quite some time, and are no longer being maintained—so I’m afraid they’re not going to be compatible with iOS 13. If you’re planning to upgrade to iOS 13, please also make sure you plan to upgrade your v2 app to the current version. (Our v3 apps come with free two-week trials, and every v2 customer is eligible for a 50% upgrade discount!)

For customers who have already purchased our current v3 apps: these updates, major as they are, are absolutely free. Thank you for your support, and we hope you enjoy Dark Mode, multiple windows, more flexibility in where you keep your documents, and more!


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

Adopting Apple’s Standard iOS Document Browser

by Ken Case on July 30, 2019

When we launched our first iPad apps in April, 2010, the iPad platform was completely new. (We launched our first apps the day the App Store launched!) At that time, there was no built-in document browser, or even a rich text editor: if we wanted those features—essential to apps like OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner—we had to build them ourselves.

There was also no built-in mechanism for syncing documents: iCloud itself didn’t exist in 2010, and iCloud Drive didn’t exist until it was introduced with iOS 8 (in September, 2014). We knew how important it was to be able to easily sync documents between multiple devices, so in May of 2013 we shipped our own syncing solution, OmniPresence.

A document browser with integrated cloud syncing was a great solution—for 2013. But time marches on, and in 2019 we now have lots of cloud storage options which integrate strongly with Apple’s standard document browser—a browser which is now built into iOS and available to every iOS app. It’s understandable that, more and more, we’ve been hearing from customers who find it frustrating that they can’t easily use the cloud syncing service of their choice within our apps.

In 2019, we think it’s time to retire our custom document browser in favor of using Apple’s built-in document browser—and with our iOS 13 updates this fall we’ll be doing just that. Instead of seeing our custom file browser, you’ll be presented with the standard iOS document browser—just like in Apple’s own iWork apps. Using Apple’s browser, you’ll be able to store and sync your documents using Apple’s built-in iCloud Drive, or third-party commercial options like Box—or even in cloud- or self-hosted collaborative git repositories using Working Copy.

Syncing through OmniPresence will still be an option, but it will no longer be the only integrated option. In fact, it might be the least privileged option: since OmniPresence isn’t its own separate app, it won’t be listed in the document browser’s sidebar where you find your other document storage solutions. Instead, it will present itself on iOS much like it does on Mac—as a folder of synced documents. We’re not trying to drive people away from using OmniPresence—but in 2019 we don’t think it makes sense to push people towards it either. OmniPresence is not a core part of our apps or business, and in 2019 there are lots of great alternatives. Seamless document syncing is essential to our apps—but exactly where and how those documents are synced is not!

Adopting the standard iOS document browser will make it easier than ever for you to choose where you want to keep our apps’ documents. If you’re already testing the iOS 13 betas and would like to help test our apps, please sign up for our iOS 13 TestFlights!


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

Open Test of OmniFocus for the Web Drawing to a Close

by Ken Case on May 22, 2019

Hi, all! Thanks for all of the great feedback during the open test period of OmniFocus for the Web!

I just wanted to give you all an early heads up that the public test of the web app will start to require a paid subscription late next week (after we’ve updated our online store to offer a $5/month web-only add-on subscription).

Subscribers will be welcome to continue to use the public test if they wish (continuing early access to features like the Forecast perspective that are still in development), or to switch over to the more stable production site.

For reference, here are links to both sites:

Whether or not you end up subscribing, thank you very much to all 20,000+ of you who signed up for the public test! Your participation and feedback have been very helpful!


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

Compatibility warning: macOS Mojave 10.14.4 cannot display some OmniOutliner and OmniPlan documents

by Ken Case on April 12, 2019

UPDATE (May 13, 2019): The compatibility bug referenced by this blog post has been fixed in macOS 10.14.5. See our follow-up post for more information. What follows is the original blog post, unedited.


Good afternoon, readers! It’s incredibly rare for us to have to do this, but I need to let our Mac customers know that the 10.14.4 version of Mojave which shipped a few weeks ago (on March 25, 2019) has a drawing bug which makes windows with large CoreAnimation layers fail to draw. In particular, OmniOutliner and OmniPlan customers have been telling us that since upgrading to 10.14.4, they will open some documents and end up seeing… nothing. Perhaps some empty borders around the window. (Or if another window is dragged over the space where that window should be drawing, they’ll see a trail of its old pixels.) This is most likely to affect customers who are using older hardware, but it also affects large documents on newer hardware.

We’re working with Apple to get this resolved as soon as possible, but for now it appears there’s nothing we can do to resolve this on our own. We’ll provide an update as soon as a fix is available. In the meantime, I’m afraid we need to recommend that any OmniOutliner or OmniPlan customers with older hardware or large documents hold off on updating to 10.14.4. (Earlier versions of Mojave are fine.)


UPDATE (April 14, 2019): Good news! We’ve been working with Apple and tested a fix that will be in the next Software Update to macOS Mojave. (I don’t know the timeframe for that update shipping to the general public, but I’m glad this fix is on its way!)

Price Increases Coming in March

by Ken Case on February 22, 2019

Good afternoon, all! It’s been a decade since we last updated many of our app prices, and I just wanted to let you know that we’re planning to raise those prices in about two weeks (on Monday, March 11). We’re reviewing prices on an app by app basis, but our rough guide will be the pace of inflation over that time.

So if anyone is looking to buy our apps at their current prices, I recommend doing so before March 11!


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