The Omni Show: Tim Wood, Chief Technology Officer

by Brent Simmons on December 12, 2018

For our special holiday episode we bring you the interview you’ve always wanted — Tim Wood, CTO and founder!

Tim talks about writing tools and serving as educator and resource for our dozen or so engineers. We also talk about Omni frameworks, the Seattle Sounders and their fan organization, and pottery.

Enjoy! And please accept our best holiday wishes from The Omni Show!

Note: after this we’re taking a short break. Our next episode will be published January 9, 2019. We’ve got some great shows planned for next year. :)

OmniFocus for the Web in Public Testing

by Brent Simmons on December 11, 2018

If you sign up to help test OmniFocus for the Web, the browser-based companion app to OmniFocus for Mac and iOS, you should receive an immediate invitation.

We had been sending invitations in batches, so we could monitor performance and stay up with feedback — but we’re at the point now where we can just add people automatically.

Here’s what to do:

Log in to your Omni Sync Server account, and then scroll down to the “OmniFocus for the Web Test” section, then join the testing group. You should receive an email, pretty soon after, with getting-started instructions.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

OmniFocus Books: One New, One Updated

by Brent Simmons on December 11, 2018

New book!

Rose Orchard and Ryan Dotson — two very active and knowledgeable members of the OmniFocus community — have written a new ebook: Build Your OmniFocus Workflow. In their words:

This book is a book we’ve written for all users of OmniFocus, from those taking their first steps with the app to those who are experienced and familiar with it. Irrespective of where you fall on this spectrum, you will be facing one truth: you must build your workflow. OmniFocus is a tool, like a screwdriver, that you will use in disparate situations to accomplish a variety of goals. Our work and lives are all quite different to our neighbours’ and thus our workflows will be just as diverse. Fortunately OmniFocus is a really good screwdriver that adapts to work in lots of different ways.

Check it out! On the website there’s a sample chapter you can download and read.

(If you would rather buy it on Apple’s bookstore, it appears that it’s available for pre-order: expected ship date is listed as Dec. 18.)

Updated book!

Kourosh Dini, long-time OmniFocus book author, has published Creating Flow with OmniFocus 3, an update which covers the latest in OmniFocus 3 for Mac and iOS, including tags and enhanced custom perspectives.

Kourosh writes:

Creating Flow 3 was written to offer an “unfolding” approach. You don’t need to go through the whole text to have a working system. In fact, you could just get by with “Getting Started” and be up and running. But if you want to really crush it, you can always turn the page to keep enhancing your system into a more and more powerful machine.

Gabe Weatherheard writes on Macdrifter, in a review, that the book is “well worth the price of admission for anyone using OmniFocus for complex task management.”

Check it out!

OmniGraffle 3.9 for iOS: Site Licensing Now Available

by Brent Simmons on December 11, 2018

This new release of OmniGraffle for iOS is the first of our iOS apps to offer Site Licensing for businesses. Ken Case, CEO of The Omni Group, wrote about this recently on this blog:

Looking around at how other people have solved this problem, one of the better approaches is to offer a single sign-on based licensing solution. (This is an approach Microsoft supports for licensing Office 365, for example.) The idea is that an organization will purchase licenses for use by a team, and the app will offer to let team members sign in with a set of credentials which will be verified by that organization using their single sign-on server. This lets the organization be responsible for purchasing and distributing their team’s licenses — including redistributing licenses when appropriate.

We’ve published a walk-through, with screenshots, showing how it works from a user’s perspective — see How do I install my organization’s OmniGraffle for iOS site license on my iOS device?

If you work at a business or school or other organization, and you might be interested in a site license (for OmniGraffle for iOS or any of OmniFocus, OmniPlan, or OmniOutliner for iOS), please email sales@omnigroup.com. Feel free to cc Ken at kc@omnigroup.com.

Or, if you’d rather, you can call us at 800-315-OMNI or +1 206 523-4152.

Introducing Optional OmniFocus Subscriptions

by Ken Case on December 3, 2018

As long-time readers know, we’ve worked very hard over the last ten years to implement our flexible, customer-friendly licensing model in the App Store. When we started, the App Store only supported a pay up front model, which was far more limited than what we’d been used to with our own direct sales. But over the years, with the introduction of new technologies like in-app purchases and updated policies, we’ve gained the flexibility we now enjoy which lets us offer trials, upgrade discounts—and even price protection (so recent purchasers get a free upgrade to a new major version of the app when it ships).

In my last blog post, I also described how we’re working on making it easier for businesses, schools, and other organizations to license and deploy our iOS apps.

We think our current licensing model meets a lot of needs, and we will continue to offer this model for licensing our apps: we prefer for customers to view our apps as an investment, not an expense.

But our current model doesn’t cover every situation. It’s designed for software that you run on your own devices, where you can buy something from us and run it for as long as you wish (so long as you keep a compatible system around to run it). With this model, we still have customers running software they purchased from us 20+ years ago. (That’s a good investment!)

But as I mentioned in January’s roadmap, OmniFocus for the Web is a different sort of product. It’s a version of OmniFocus that runs on our computers, not yours. Running it on our computers means we have to maintain those computers, their network connections, power, and so on, as a constantly available online service, for as long as customers use the product. Running that service costs us money every month, so if we want the service to be sustainable we need an income stream which brings in money every month to cover those costs. In other words, this service model requires subscriptions—an arrangement where customers pay us money each month to keep the service going.

Beyond supporting this new service model, there are some other benefits to offering subscription pricing as an option. Some of you have told us that you’re frustrated by our current “a la carte” pricing model, where each edition of the app is purchased separately. That you would prefer the option to pay a subscription each year which covers the price of future upgrades and unlocks the app everywhere. That you’d rather not have to worry about when the next major upgrade is coming, budgeting for how much that will cost. That you don’t want to have to think about whether you’ve bought the app for Mac or for iOS; that instead, you just want to use it on whichever device you happen to be using. Offering a subscription option for our desktop and mobile apps would help with all of these requests.

To that end, when OmniFocus for the Web ships we’ll be rolling it out as part of a new OmniFocus subscription offering. This subscription will grant you access to OmniFocus for the Web, and will also unlock the Pro edition of OmniFocus on all of your other devices. Your subscription will cover the cost of all upgrades, so you’ll get the new OmniFocus 3 release today—and, when OmniFocus 4 ships some years down the road, you’ll get an automatic upgrade to it as well.

Now, some of you have already paid to upgrade to OmniFocus 3. If you have what you need, you don’t need to change anything: you can keep using OmniFocus 3 as you have been doing. New customers will also continue to be able to make a simple one-time investment to unlock OmniFocus 3 on their devices. We’re offering subscriptions as an additional purchasing option, not as a replacement for the existing options.

The OmniFocus subscription will cost $9.99/month, giving you access to the web service as well as OmniFocus Pro on all your Mac and iOS devices. If you’ve already invested in OmniFocus 3 and just want to add the web service, the cost for that will be $4.99/month.

These subscription options will be available when OmniFocus for the Web ships next month.

I should note that subscriptions do have significant downsides. The initial cost to start using the product is lower, but over time subscriptions will end up costing more—and unlike our one-time purchases, it’s not an investment: when you stop subscribing to OmniFocus you’ll lose access to the things that were being provided by that subscription. When a subscription ends you won’t be able to use OmniFocus for the Web any more—and any OmniFocus apps running on your own devices will go back to whatever state they were in before you subscribed. (If you never unlocked those apps, that means they’ll go into a free viewer mode where you can access your data and export it, but can no longer edit it.)

Whether subscriptions make sense for you is something only you can decide. But we’re pleased that we will soon be able to offer you that choice!


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