Omni Sync Server: Beta no more!

by Brian on March 5, 2012

Howdy, friend-os! Today, I get to do something we’ve been looking forward to for a while now: announce that the Omni Sync Server is coming out of beta.

We’ve had the server up for almost two years now - it launched way back in April of 2010. In that time, the server has been scaled up from a Mac mini here in our offices to a collection of machines in our colocation facility, all working together to help you move your Omni apps’ data back and forth between your OS X and iOS devices, as well as to store backup copies of that data just in case things go totally diggstown and you need them.

When we launched the server, it was an OmniFocus-only affair, but we’ve added support for the server to all of our iOS apps. On the Mac, OmniFocus and OmniPlan have built-in support for the server as well. (The Mac apps that don’t already include support will get it in the future.)

So, to the tens of thousands of folks out there that have been storing your data on the server this whole time: thank you very much for being willing to sign up and help us build this thing. There’s always a seat for you on our little red wagon. To everyone else: if you were interested in using the server but didn’t want to sign up while it was in in a testing phase, we’re rolling out the red carpet for you. Head over to and set up an account.

Oh, and did we mention that you can have this all for the low, low price of zero? One of the things we learned is that we can build and run a service like this without needing to charge for it. Consider it a delicious after-dinner digestif you get whenever you buy one of our apps. Enjoy!

Five-Minute Workshop Videos

by Bill Van Hecke on February 7, 2012

Thanks to all who came out to our booth at Macworld | iWorld 2012, tried out our apps, participated in the workshops, and picked up some classy embossed iPad sleeves. We always love getting to meet people face-to-face and talk about software!

Each of the workshops this year was designed to be a quick, interactive run-through of just a few of the things you can do with one of our iPad apps. We’ve just posted videos of the workshops for anyone who didn’t get to see them on the show floor. If you want a five-minute intro to what a particular Omni product is all about, these are a pretty excellent way to get it.


OmniPlan 2.1, A Great (beta) Update

by Derek Reiff on February 1, 2012

Users, do we have news for you.

OmniPlan has a new Sneaky Peek* out there for everyone to enjoy — especially if you’re an importer/exporter.

Our Microsoft Project import/export functionality has been rewritten, so we’d love it if you relayed any and all bugs back to us; if you can send us the Project file as well, that’d be even better. We really want to make sure this new process works well.

(For those wondering why it’s been rewritten: with the Mac App Store, we had to move our Project importer/exporter functionality to a plugin—installed separately—because it required Java. We want that to be built-in.)

Also new and notable! We’re getting started on multi-project support.

If you select an Address Book entry (with an email address) for a resource and then publish your plan files to our Sync Server, we’ll determine just how much that person can do for each project they’re participating in. All other Sync Repository projects are leveled as you update them.

Speaking of leveling: we now automatically level resources on the fly. It can be turned off, though, by visiting the Project menu.

Keep in mind that we’re not yet done and there may be issues we’re not aware of. (Issues we’d love to hear about!) If you need help getting it figured out, shoot us an email. Multi-project support has been a popular feature request for a while now, and we’re happy to push out what we’ve come up with so far.

It’s now also possible to resize Gantt chart bars; they’re now equivalent to the “Whole Document” font size.

“Anything else?” you’re asking. Well, sure. We’ve fixed quite a few bugs!

*Standard warning: Our Sneaky Peeks are not for the faint of heart. There will be bugs. We want to know them.

Macworld | iWorld 2012 this week — we’ll be there!

by Derek Reiff on January 23, 2012

Macworld is almost here!

Join us, if you would, on January 26th, 27th, and 28th at booth 802. (There’s no need for a map; it’s extremely close to the Exhibit Hall entrance.)

We won’t beg, but we’d love to see long-time users, show our stuff to some new users, and give away some Pretty Cool Things we had made up.

This is actually our 12th straight attendance, but I’m calling this Number One, because Frakes. And Ihnatko! No big deal.

There’s always something worth checking out at Macworld — at the very least, follow along with our Instagram (omnigroup) feed or our posts on Twitter: @omnigroup. We’ll be posting awesome things throughout our stay which will all be newsworthy, I’m sure.

Also: OmniPlan for iPad previews and a quick presentation on Friday at noon!

Take a gander at our presentation lineup by heading over to our permanent Macworld page, or read ahead.

Lastly, if you know of a fantastical ramen or dumpling place we should check out while we’re in San Francisco, comment or email!

11:15OmniGraffle: Space Planning
12:00OmniOutliner: Building a Budget
1:15OmniGraphSketcher: Data Visualization
2:00OmniFocus: Weekly Review
2:45OmniOutliner: Crafting Classy Documents
3:15OmniGraffle: Basic Wireframing
4:00OmniFocus: Daily To Do List
10:30OmniOutliner: Crafting Classy Documents
11:00Ken Case Q&A
12:00OmniPlan for iPad: First Look!
1:15OmniGraffle: Basic Wireframing
2:00OmniOutliner: Building a Budget
2:45OmniFocus: The Basics
3:15OmniGraffle: Space Planning
4:00OmniFocus: Review
10:30OmniGraphSketcher: Data Visualization
11:00David Sparks
12:00OmniGraffle: Space Planning
1:15OmniFocus: The Basics
2:00OmniOutliner: Building a Budget
2:45OmniGraffle: Basic Wireframing
3:15OmniFocus: Review
4:00OmniOutliner: Crafting Classy Documents

What’s the deal with the Omni Sync Server, anyway?

by Derek Reiff on January 12, 2012

Here we are

Almost two years ago, we opened registration for a brand new service: the Omni Sync Server. It was introduced slowly, of course, shared via email to folks who had trouble with MobileMe sync conflicts or setting up their own WebDAV server. Next, we invited users via Twitter and our OmniFocus forums to expand our base a bit more. (We survived that!)

At that point, we didn’t know whether the service would be free. We announced publicly in December of 2010 that it would. It isn’t free for us—about five or six folks here have had their hand in the design/implementation/upkeep/engineering of OSS—but definitely worth it. But! it’s reasonably fair to say that OmniFocus paired with OSS makes for the best experience.

So, in the past two years, it’s been pretty great — with a few exceptions. We’ve taken it down to physically move our servers to the next rack over; we’ve had a few cases of the early-morning Mondays (I’m so sorry I said that) because of I/O difficulties when sign-ups started ramping up. (Technical note: we were also using our first Mini to redirect everyone to the appropriate machine; it was overwhelmed.)

We’re now fine-tuning the system and preparing for worst-case scenarios as much as we can be:

  • What if a Mac Mini jumps off the rack at our colo facility?
  • What if a drive dies on each Mac Mini at the same time?
  • Other relatively bad thing.

Soon, after we get all of that figured out, we’ll be taking the Sync Server out of beta. Edit: It sounds a bit like we’re not currently backing things up; we are! We’re also finalizing our EULA — we want something that we like and which our lawyers will tolerate. (We’ve removed the beta badges in our apps in preparation for this; the site’s warning remains.)

What’s next?

We definitely have some ideas for a great new OmniFocus feature or two involving OSS. We also have plans to use it more and more for all of our document-based apps (see: everything else), and will move away from importing/exporting and over to syncing of documents.

Twitter-folk can stay up-to-date here with news and announcements.

We really like iCloud, but there’s still a lot we, as developers, just don’t know. Hopefully we’ll find out more in the coming month(s).

Some data from sync clients

We tweeted yesterday that exactly 31,500 users were active on our servers in the last 8 days. The most interesting bit, I think, is the most popular OS X machine: the 2011 Macbook Air. 10%, with 7% of the 13” and 3% of the 11”.

Five folks do their OmniFocusing on an Xserve. (There’s nothing wrong with that!)

Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper, occasionally shares some of his iOS statistics. I’d suggest heading there for a better breakdown of what it actually means for developers, but this is interesting:

  • 92% of the devices using our Sync Server are completely up-to-date on iOS 5.0.1.
  • Because of rounding, we can say that nearly 100% of our users are running at least 4.2.1
  • 68 devices of 38,741 are running something less than iOS 4.

And finally, for the OmniFocus geeks:

All 3592119%
Desktop only544417%
iPhone only372812%
iPad only20697%

Keep in mind that these are active devices in the last 8 days. In our latest versions of OmniFocus, we decided to up our minimum OS version to 4.0, so users that are less likely to upgrade their OS might also be less likely to explore syncing.