OmniFocus Now Supports End-to-End Encryption

by Derek Reiff on August 1, 2016

“Is my data safe on the server?”

That’s a question we get occasionally from customers, and the answer has always been this:

“Communication to and from the server is encrypted using a secure HTTPS connection, just like the traffic between your computer and your online banking website. We take measures to protect our servers from outside intrusion, as we do with our own online store.” (via Omni Sync Server’s About Page)

And then we add:

“But you can also set up your own server if you’d like more control.”

There are quite a few people that do set up their own server for end-to-end control, but it takes a bit of work. Plus, anyone with access to the server would, potentially, be able to read your data.

But, with our latest updates today (OmniFocus 2.6 for Mac and OmniFocus 2.15 for iOS), your data will be completely encrypted before it leaves your device so that it’s encrypted on the server itself. We’re using your sync password to generate a key that encrypts everything as it leaves your device. All encryption and decryption happens locally, so your data is always encrypted end-to-end and our server never has access to your encryption key. (OmniFocus doesn’t encrypt the data stored on your local devices: you can use the built-in device encryption features in iOS (enabled by default) and OS X (FileVault) to encrypt your local data at rest.)

OmniFocus is the first of our apps to get this sort of encryption treatment, but it won’t be the last. We hope to get it into document-based apps quickly!

Upgrading your database

To make this level of encryption work—and for other features down the road—we needed to make some adjustments to our database format.

The releases of OmniFocus out today will periodically check to see if all of your devices are using the latest version. Once they are, you’ll be prompted to migrate to the new database format. If you’re pretty sure all devices are updated but still haven’t received a prompt, choose Migrate from the File menu on Mac or Settings on iOS to see a list of out-of-date devices.

We’re confident that we’ve thoroughly tested the process, but if you get stuck at any point in the process, feel free to email or call: 800-315-6664.

A Bit More

The guiding principle of today’s updates is that the only things which should ever have access to your OmniFocus tasks are devices you own and control: your phone, your Mac, your tablet.

There are a few other things worth remembering: no one at Omni will have the ability to look at or restore your data. Further, if you lose every single device OmniFocus is installed on and you forget your password, you should consider your OmniFocus database lost and unrecoverable.

There are more technical details for the curious: find out more on Discourse or dig into the code on github.

The technical tl;dr?

PBKDF2-SHA256, AESWRAP, AES128-CTR, HMAC-SHA256.

Finally, we didn’t just assume the design we came up with was perfect. We asked Leviathan Security, a firm that specializes in this sort of thing, to take an additional look. Here’s a link to Leviathan’s design review.

Anything else?

For iOS, the /add URL action now supports an autosave=true parameter which saves the added task without prompting. You can now restore backups  in the new Backup section of Settings. And, if you restore a new iPhone from an iCloud backup, we behave much more sensibly during your first sync.

On Mac, we’ve updated our localizations and squashed a whole lot of bugs!

As always, you can read release notes from both Mac and iOS releases.

OmniFocus for iOS Now Automation-Ready

by Derek Reiff on April 26, 2016

Today, OmniFocus gets a huge update to its automation capabilities.

In iOS, the primary way that apps talk to each other is through URLs. These are much like the URLs you enter into a web browser (in fact, you can enter these exact URLs into a web browser if you wish) and provide a mechanism for an app to transmit information to another app.

Since its launch in 2008, OmniFocus has had some useful URL Scheme actions, like add. You could use a bookmarklet in Safari on iOS to send your current page directly to OmniFocus, or use an app like Drafts to quickly turn ideas into actions. A bit later you could navigate to a special OmniFocus URL, like omnifocus:///forecast, and you’d be taken straight to your Forecast view.

Today brings much more than that! OmniFocus 2.14, now available in the App Store, focuses on two big things:

  • TaskPaper text support
  • URL scheme action additions

And we mean a whole lot of URL scheme additions! Read on.

TaskPaper Text Support

TaskPaper is an app and a plain text format for list-making. It uses tags to carry with it a few specific additions to keep track of completion, dates, and more. (And, in our case, you can use tags like @context(Home) or @repeat(1d) to specify OmniFocus data.)

So, take this Editorial workflow as an example. With the help of a bit of Python to go through your selected TaskPaper text in Editorial and prompt for variable replacement, it adds the project and its actions to OmniFocus.

An Editorial Template Workflow

Automation with URL scheme actions

Recently customers have been wanting to take advantage of automation apps like Workflow, Drafts, Pythonista, and others to quickly add new actions or projects or switch to different views inside OmniFocus.

With 2.14, OmniFocus now includes best-of-class support for callback URLs. At its simplest, this means that you can create a workflow that adds more than one item to OmniFocus. But we didn’t just add support for two-way communication between OmniFocus and other apps, we added support for automating a whole lot more of the powerful capabilities of OmniFocus.

Ken goes into the nitty gritty in a detailed Discourse post. But aside from doing the usual name and note additions, you can add estimates, attachments, dates, repetition rules, flags, and even set a project to Parallel.

Customers have already started building some interesting things with Workflow and Editorial, and more are in production!

You can add attachments to OmniFocus and plan your day in Fantastical in Workflow, convert TaskPaper text into templates in Editorial, or turn a day’s worth of ideas into inbox items with Drafts.

Sample workflows in Workflow

What does this all mean?

This is awesome stuff! For some folks, iOS is the primary platform. The ability to add new actions and reference material from different locations can make collection, automation, and as-yet-unknown use cases incredibly powerful.

Check out Inside OmniFocus for more, or OmniFocus 2.14’s release notes.

If this it that one thing you’ve been waiting for, buy it!

New Tutorial: Getting Started with OmniGraffle

by Chuck on April 12, 2016

UPDATE: October 2016
The Getting Started with OmniGraffle tutorial is based on use of OmniGraffle 6 (version 6.6 to be exact). If you have recently purchased OmniGraffle 7, you can still use this tutorial to learn about OmniGraffle; however, there will be some noticeable changes in the user interface. In particular, the Sidebar, Resource Browser, and the Inspectors have all been greatly improved in OmniGraffle 7.


Work began on a new OmniGraffle 6 tutorial a few months ago. We wanted this to be something that was visually-compelling; something that showed off OmniGraffle’s strengths as a diagramming and design tool. Ultimately, we swung for the fences by creating a “family tree” of sorts based on Greek mythology:

The Gods & Goddesses of Greek Mythology

The result is a new tutorial, titled Getting Started with OmniGraffle. This step-by-step guide goes beyond creating a basic flowchart. Rather than just showing you how to connect boxes with lines, you will layout and design a fairly complex diagram, apply a color palette, and explore new ways to work in OmniGraffle 6—and your Mac—as a designer.

While working through this tutorial, you will:

  • Use the Resource Browser to choose a template and create a new document
  • Use the Outline Editor to enter hierarchical data for creating structured diagrams
  • Discover how to open a structured OmniOutliner file in OmniGraffle 6 and use Auto Layout to “flow” your diagram
  • Use the Diagram Layout inspector to explore and choose a layout style for your diagram
  • Create Workspaces from the Inspectors you need to make your design work go faster
  • Add a custom color palette and discover “hidden” features of OS X’s Colors window, and then…
  • …apply those colors to the objects and connecting lines in the diagram
  • Learn how to use layers and create “pseudo-guides” for aligning objects in various patterns
  • Discover how lines connect to objects and reconfigure their positions with object Magnets
  • Apply a color to the canvas
  • Create and style text objects to add a title to your diagram

When you’ve finished working through the tutorial, there’s a bonus section toward the end—Where to Go From Here—where you’re encouraged to push the limits even further. To change up the diagram, either by changing the design or adding more Connection Lines to denote relationships. (And if you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you could end up adding a lot lines to Zeus and his various partners.)

You can read Getting Started with OmniGraffle on our Support site, and there’s also a Zip file to download, which contains the following assets for working through the tutorial:

  • GreekMythology.oo3 — Hang on to this OmniOutliner file for the end of Part 1. This file contains the hierarchical list of prominent members found in Greek mythology, and you will open this file in OmniGraffle prior to starting Part 2.
  • NSColorPanelSwatches.plist — If you so choose, you can add this file to ~/Library/Colors on your Mac to get all of the color swatches you need in the Colors window when applying colors to objects and lines in the diagram.

And, as always, please let us know what you think about Getting Started with OmniGraffle, as well as your thoughts on other tutorials you’d like to see from us.

Styling is here in OmniFocus 2.5 for Mac!

by Derek Reiff on March 30, 2016

Today we’ve released OmniFocus 2.5 for Mac—a fresh new release with a few big things.

OmniFocus Styles

In OmniFocus Preferences you’ll see a brand new pane: Style. Inside are both font collections and color palettes. Along with the ability to create your own styles, we’ve included some good-looking pre-made sets.

Under color palettes we’ve included two: OmniFocus Light and OmniFocus Dark. OmniFocus Light is what you’re used to already, while OmniFocus Dark is brand new. We spent quite a bit of time tweaking colors for readability and comfort (at night, especially!).

If you’re wanting to create your own color palette or font collection, check out this support article for more about what’s involved. Be aware! There are a lot of colors involved—it might be a productivity-breaker!

Fixes, sync, and more

Also of note:

  • OmniPlan 3 clipping is here!
  • Default calendar app preferences are respected
  • TextExpander fill-in snippets are working in the sidebar

We’ve also made a number of improvements to situations that might stomp over edits that you didn’t finish making. Say, for example, OmniFocus wanted to pull in sync changes to an action you were actively editing—we wait until you’re done.

Enjoy! Check for updates in the direct version or within the App Store app.

3D Touch in OmniFocus 2.12 for iOS

by Derek Reiff on March 15, 2016

We’ve just released the latest version of OmniFocus for your iPhones and iPads. Check for updates on your device now!

Peek and Pop in OmniFocus for iPhone

First and foremost in this release is, of course, the addition of 3D Touch support to devices that support it. (iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus) In addition to already supporting Quick Actions—which enabled one-press access to several perspectives and Quick Entry from the home screen of your iPhone—you’ll be able to Peek and Pop each row for common tasks.

On an action, that amounts to details about the action itself, like notes if there are any, the project, context, or dates, and swiping up will bring up additional actions to quickly flag or due today (or tomorrow, depending). Delete or complete actions, and even mark projects as Reviewed, too.

Not using a 3D Touch device?

Even if you’re not using an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, you still have access to the same actions! Swipe left on a row, then tap ‘More.’

Watch improvements

Using an Apple Watch? Our Complication now supports Time Travel for custom perspectives. To keep things humming along, completing an action will trigger a sync on iPhone.

And more, of course

That’s not to mention the good amount of general maintenance this release packs in: crash fixes, bug zaps, and a bigger app icon sized for iPad Pro.

For the full set of release notes, you can head here.

Enjoy!