OmniPlan 2.1: Take a load off

by Derek Reiff on April 12, 2012

The latest update to OmniPlan is here, and it’s a good one! It comes with new support for balancing resource loads across multiple projects, auto-leveling of resources, localizations for Apple’s Tier-1 languages, and a whole bunch of crash fixes, interface clarifications, and bug fixes.

278 fixes, to be exact! Get your release notes here.

It’s also identifiable by this brand new icon, following in the footsteps of seven new (Omni Group) icons before it.

OmniPlan's new icon

Resource Load Sharing

One of the biggest requests for OmniPlan 2.1 has been the ability to manage multiple resources across multiple projects. With Resource Load Sharing, we’ve developed a great way to do that.

  • Use our Sync Server or your server repository to publish and sync all of your projects.
  • Assign an email address to each resource. (This is how OmniPlan keeps track of, say, two John Smiths.)
  • Make sure “Subscribe to other projects’ resource loads” is checked in your Publishing & Subscriptions configuration.

And here’s a friendly video about exactly that:

Our Transmogrifier

One of the changes that we introduced in the first beta of 2.1 was a switch to a new Microsoft Project importer/exporter. Because of the Mac App Store’s restriction on optionally-installed software, we had to make our converter—the Transmogrifier, as we call it—a downloadable add-on. We decided the best option for everyone was to completely rewrite it.

In the final version of OmniPlan 2.1, it’s turned off by default. If you have the time to try it, please do. We’d love to get a wider swath of test files to really put it though its paces.

To enable the new importer/exporter, use the following hidden defaults (in Terminal):

defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniPlan2 UseNativeMSPFilters -bool true

For the Mac App Store version:

defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniPlan.MacAppStore UseNativeMSPFilters -bool true

If you’d like to go back to 2.0-style Microsoft Project support, replace true with false.

Use OmniPlan▸Check for Updates. If you don’t have OmniPlan installed, grab it here. The Mac App Store version will be available after approval.

Customer Stories: Tim Stringer & OmniFocus

by Derek Reiff on April 4, 2012

We receive a lot of emails and phone calls every day. Some asking for Feature X, others to report a bug. A fair amount, though, are stories from customers about how they use our applications. Each story leaves us feeling grateful to be in the business.

About a year ago, we decided to bring a few of these to video. We sincerely hope you’ll find them as inspiring as we do. More stories are in the pipeline, and we’re always wanting to hear more.

This story is about Tim Stringer and OmniFocus. In 2008, Tim Stringer’s daily schedule went from busy and productive to monofocused: heal. He was able to pick up a new habit during the process, though, and the outcome was—and remains—a very good one.

The story


Tim wrote more about how he uses OmniFocus. He shares much of what he’s learned through his company, Technically Simple, as an OmniFocus coach.

We talked to Tim in beautiful Vancouver, BC. Thanks to MacFanatic—especially the founders, Jani and Genevieve—for use of their space.

Do the Discardia

by Kris on March 28, 2012

Welcome to another edition of our Use Case profiles, this time featuring Dinah Sanders, a writer and productivity coach from San Francisco. Dinah recently published her book Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff, which advocates for a new way of addressing over-accumulation. “Make room for more awesomeness” is the primary tenet of her guide to helping you toss out extraneous objects, bad habits, or emotional baggage in order to uncover the stuff that brings you more joy.

Some of our more diehard archivers, defer-ers, and On Hold enthusiasts might appreciate some of her advice in this area. OmniFocus folks that frequently find themselves full of dread at the prospect of delving into their ever-expanding list of projects, though, might consider moving her book to the top of their Amazon Wishlist.

Or heck, secede from the procrastination and grab an iBooks copy now, and consider another step in your “Self Improvement” project done!

Sure, it could be argued that adding another book to your library might be an ironic next action for those who wish to free themselves from feeling burdened by too much stuff, but what Discardia celebrates isn’t minimalism for mere minimalism’s sake, it’s about maximizing what adds value to your life by removing what isn’t helpful.

We recently spoke with Dinah about how she uses OmniFocus and she put it to us this way:

Overwhelm can be a big problem with any task management software, but it is especially a risk when following the GTD approach of getting everything out of your head and into a trusted system. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing—even a somewhat chaotic version of that is going to be better than keeping it all in your brain—but it does expose to us just how many expectations on ourselves we actually carry around.

My belief is that it’s okay to have hundreds of things you’d like to do; what will screw you up (and keep you from achieving many of them) is consciously or unconsciously living as though you must do them all. Limiting your canvas can boost your creativity and increase the chance of completion. The two features which make OmniFocus an intensely valuable tool in helping hold back a sense of overload are the review infrastructure and the ability to distinguish between active and on hold projects. You can dump everything in there, yet still keep most stuff out of your face on your day-to-day action lists while trusting that it will remind you to think about it again at appropriate, adjustable intervals.

And whether it’s today or the next time you sit down for a Review, taking the time to trim your database can have an equal effect to actually checking things off - clearing your plate is clearing your plate!

Remember that there’s a difference between finishing your fair share and biting off more than you can chew. As Dinah puts it in her book: “We all have pet projects, social commitments, goals for personal and professional growth, and hobbies to which we devote our time. We stroll past the buffet of life and load our plates. Unfortunately, we make a lot of trips back to that smorgasbord of options and, pretty soon, we are groaning under the load. Do you really like everything you picked up thinking it would be tasty? Can you really finish all that? Would doing so leave you feeling painfully over-stuffed?”

One way Dinah suggests kicking off un-cluttering a living space could easily be leveraged in OmniFocus as well: “Get yourself two boxes. Label the first box ‘Better Place’. Put in any items currently in your chosen space that belong somewhere else. Label the second box ‘Keep?’ and place into this box anything you’re not sure you want anymore.”

Go ahead, try it! Click the action button at the bottom of the OmniFocus for Mac sidebar, select “New Single Action List” twice, and label them accordingly. Now peruse your projects and drag anything into those two bins that isn’t making you feel empowered to accomplish more awesome actions. Then, redistribute the contents of ‘Better Place’ to more advantageous projects, and carefully consider what’s in ‘Keep?’ before placing them On Hold or putting the final nail in their respective coffins by marking them Dropped, and sending them to your Archive to rest in peace.

Sidebar screenshot

That’s one way to lighten up OmniFocus to support a more meaningful, less maniacal to do list. As an avid OmniFocus user—since the days it was Kinkless—Dinah definitely knows a thing or two about optimization. Discardia is (adequately) full of practical tips and encouraging guidance, concentrated into three core principles: Decide and Do, Quality over Quantity, and Perpetual Upgrade.

In the spirit of that last principle, consider adding the Discardia iCal calendar to help remind you when it’s a good time to ceremoniously cast off any excess baggage and enjoy more awesomeness.

“What is a Week-End?”

by Derek Reiff on March 22, 2012

Late last week we released updates to OmniFocus for Mac and iPad — OmniFocus for iPhone came a bit later.

All three updates include the extremely useful and oft-requested feature of flexible weekly repeats. Set up an action to repeat every week on certain days: every weekday, every weekend, just Mondays, etc.

Mac Repeat

Previously, the best way to create a weekday-only or weekend-only repeating action was to create one action for each day, and set to repeat every 1 week. That method worked, but admittedly required a bit too much initial effort.

Set up a configuration with a few clicks or taps: on the Mac, open up the Inspector; on the iPhone and iPad, bring up the Action Details editor and tap the Dates column like usual. Choose the “every” repeat type, pick a few days, and done.

iPhone Repeat 50 Percent

This makes things easier for many customers, and we’re very happy to have it available. We’d like to add more functionality for repeating actions in the future, too.

Finally, OmniFocus for Mac has a new icon, OmniFocus for iPad has been retina-ized, and we’ve fixed a few more bugs! For full release notes: Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

Now we can schedule around them.

Update: OmniFocus for iPhone 1.14 was just released! Update when you see it and don’t forget to turn iCloud Reminders back on.

A few videos on design and development

by Derek Reiff on March 6, 2012

Bill, our User Experience Lead, traveled to Malmö, Sweden, in November of last year to give a couple of talks at Øredev, a conference focused on “the whole software development process.”

There are a few talks from Øredev that we’d especially like to pass along:

The first talk from Bill explores development lessons learned going from the Mac, to the iPhone, to the iPad, and back. Watch it here!

His second talk, Designing Graceful, Gracious Interfaces for iPad, has been given a few different times at the Voices That Matter conferences. You can find it over at Vimeo.

And Robby Ingebretsen, another Seattleite and Pixel Lab person, gave two awesome talks on Fonts, Form, and Function and an introduction to Design Composition.

They’re all insightful and worth throwing on to your ?tv when you have a spare hour or four.

Add all four videos to OmniFocus by tapping here.