Omni’s Plans for 2013

by Ken Case on December 21, 2012

In my last blog post, I reflected on all the things we accomplished in 2012 here at Omni—in particular, the completion of our huge “iPad or Bust!” initiative. But as Professor Hathaway said to Chris Knight, “That was yesterday. What have you done for me today?”

With “iPad or Bust!” out of the way, we’ve been able to move some of our projects off the back burner and here are some highlights of what’s coming: OmniFocus 2. OmniOutliner 4. Automatic document syncing. Sandboxing. Accessibility. Visio and Microsoft Project compatibility in our iPad apps. Upgrade pricing from Mac App Store apps.

Junction: Omni 13, OmniFocus 2, OmniOutliner 4

Let’s start with OmniFocus 2! For OmniFocus 2, we’re bringing back to the Mac all of the design and innovation that went into our iPad edition of OmniFocus: dedicated Forecast and Review modes, clearer navigation, and a fresh look and feel. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you! At 6pm on January 31, you’re invited to join Merlin Mann, David Sparks, and me for the first public debut of OmniFocus 2. This will be a free event, hosted at the Cartoon Art Museum (a short walk from Macworld/iWorld), and anyone who attends will get early access to the OmniFocus 2 private beta. Space is limited, so if you plan to attend please let us know.

Next up: OmniOutliner 4! I know many of you have been waiting for this upgrade for a long time—I know I have been waiting for this for a long time! For those of you who might not know the history, OmniOutliner 3 shipped in January, 2005—one year before Macs transitioned to Intel processors. And OmniOutliner 3 certainly hasn’t sat still over the last eight years: we’ve ported to Intel processors and added support for Spotlight, dictionary lookups, LinkBack, Automator workflows, Quick Look, custom toolbars, Word 2008 export, Auto Save, and Versions. But other than a few tweaks to the inspectors and toolbars, its design has mostly stayed the same: it’s starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. So… it’s due.

What’s coming in OmniOutliner 4? We’ve completely rebuilt the outlining engine to support zooming text, showing and hiding columns, and we’ve improved link handling and attachments. We’ve designed a new style system which emphasizes named styles and simplifies the styles interface. And it’s built on a modern 64-bit architecture, with a fresh new look and feel. OmniOutliner 4 isn’t finished yet, but it’s getting close: it’s now at the point where I’m using it to edit all my outlines rather than OmniOutliner 3, so I anticipate we’ll be ready for public beta sometime in the first quarter.

Automatic document syncing is almost here! We call it “OmniPresence”: your documents, synced everywhere you want them to be.

We’ve designed OmniPresence around open web protocols, so you’re welcome to use our free Omni Sync Server or to host your own cloud server. We think that the option to host your own cloud is important—not just because of concerns with respect to privacy and security (though that’s key for many businesses), but because it means you can keep that cloud running as long as you want to keep using it. As we saw with MobileMe shutting down earlier this year, individual cloud services can easily disappear as business models change. Building a solution around open standards means that our customers have a choice of hosting providers rather than being tied to a single ephemeral cloud solution.

OmniPresence is not limited to syncing with a single cloud, either: you can choose which folders to sync with which clouds. This means that teams can set up separate folders in separate clouds, and you can access files from any of them on each of your devices.

Because it’s open and you can host your own cloud, OmniPresence is designed to sync any documents you want: it’s not limited to syncing documents created by our apps. In fact, on the desktop OmniPresence is completely independent of our other apps: if you wish, you can use it to sync TextEdit documents! (But when using OmniPresence with non-Omni apps, we’ll ask that you limit the amount of space you use on our Omni Sync Server since we can’t provide infinite storage to everyone for free. On your own cloud server, though, do whatever you want!)

On iOS, OmniPresence isn’t quite that independent: the sandboxing environment requires that each app embed the OmniPresence logic within its own codebase. We will be publishing our source code for free so other developers can add it to their apps.

OmniFocus 2, OmniOutliner 4, and OmniPresence. Three major upgrades, all coming your way in Q1, 2013.

But as I noted at the top, that’s not all! We’re also working on sandboxing to help keep your Mac safe; and accessibility (currently in private beta for OmniOutliner for iPad) to make our apps easier to use by those who are visually impaired. And we’ve been working on adding Visio and Microsoft Project compatibility to our iPad apps, so it will be easier than ever to go completely mobile with your work.

Finally, with OmniFocus 2 coming we’ve been thinking a lot about how to implement upgrade pricing from Mac App Store apps. As always, we plan to offer discounted upgrade pricing on our own online store, but unfortunately we don’t have the flexibility to offer selective discounts in the Mac App Store. We’ve decided to treat the Mac App Store the same way as we treat retail stores: it’s a great way to discover our software, and can give you confidence that it’s been vetted by a third party. And, just as you wouldn’t get a discount from a retail store if you purchase OmniGraffle 5 while owning OmniGraffle 4, you won’t get a discount if you purchase OmniFocus 2 from the Mac App Store. But we’re in the process of updating our store so that you’ll be able to register your Mac App Store apps to get a discounted upgrade price when you buy an update directly from us. Please see this blog post for more information on upgrade pricing for App Store apps.

OmniFocus 2. OmniOutliner 4. OmniPresence. Sandboxing. Accessibility. Visio and Microsoft Project compatibility in our iPad apps. Upgrade pricing from Mac App Store apps. I hope you’re looking forward to 2013 as much as we are! (And don’t forget to let us know if you’re planning to come to the OmniFocus 2 debut!)

Omni’s 2012 in Review

by Ken Case on December 19, 2012

As we approach the end of 2012 (or the world, according to some), I’ve been reflecting on just how much we’ve accomplished this year here at Omni.

Omni Release Timeline 2012

We celebrated 20 years of, of course, and we moved to new offices. But, more importantly, we finished our two-and-a-half-year “iPad or Bust!” initiative by shipping the last of those five apps, OmniPlan for iPad! Version 1.0 doesn’t mark the end of all our work, of course—but it’s a great milestone and I’m incredibly proud of all our team has accomplished.

Finishing up our “iPad or Bust!” initiative has given us the opportunity to start working through a number of other projects on our “to do” lists, so there’s been a lot of news in 2012…

We rolled out our own Omni Sync Server, so you don’t have to become a sysadmin and run your own web server just to sync your devices. (But you can still run your own server if you like: our syncing engine is based on open web protocols.)

OmniFocus has been on speaking terms with Siri since late 2011, of course, but in 2012 we’ve made it more robust and brought support for Siri to the iPad app as well. We also added support for flexible weekly repeats and TextExpander—and just this month we’ve started beta testing our new Mail Drop which lets you email tasks directly to your OmniFocus database.

This year Apple introduced iPads with Retina displays, and we immediately shipped Retina updates for all of our iPad apps. Apple also introduced Retina displays to the Mac with the new MacBook Pro, and we’ve already shipped Retina updates for OmniGraffle and OmniPlan (and are busy working on Retina updates for the rest of our Mac apps).

Behind the scenes, we’ve also been updating all our Mac apps to leverage the latest fundamental advances in OS X: this year we shipped Developer ID-signed updates for all our apps, 64-bit updates for OmniGraffle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniDazzle—and we expect to ship 64-bit updates for the rest of our apps soon. We’ve also been hard at work adopting OS X’s new App Sandbox.

Even before we finished “iPad or Bust!” one of our top priorities has been to build automatic document syncing into OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and OmniGraphSketcher—we want it to be as easy to sync all our apps as it is to sync OmniFocus and OmniPlan. We’ve been working on this for over a year and a half now, and at the start we had very promising results: it felt like magic when it worked, and we thought we’d be ready to ship last year. But though our code was finished, we found the back end service we were trying to use wasn’t working reliably, and we felt it would be irresponsible to ship something so critical until we knew the full solution was solid. After a year of trying to help get that solution working, we went back to the drawing board and designed a new syncing solution based on open web protocols. Nobody was more disappointed about the delay this caused than we were—but we knew we needed to find some way to move forward, and I’m pleased to report that the redesign has gone very well (and our new syncing solution is now in internal testing).

Which, of course, leads right into the subject of my next blog post: what’s coming next from Omni? (Stay tuned!)

Macworld 2013: Something New

by Derek Reiff on December 4, 2012

David L. and attendees at Macworld 2012

Not on the show floor

This is usually when we start making announcements about Macworld for next year. We have some different news this time, though: we’ve decided not to have a booth presence on the show floor in 2013.

This was a tough decision to make, as Macworld gave us our first real “meet and greet” with our customers. One of our first shows was back in 1998 when we shared OmniWeb for Rhapsody, alongside Bare Bones Software (they were showing off a pre-release of Mailsmith), to a new set of OS X-ready users. Our presence included a good chunk of the company, a few computers, and a shared booth.

We do software, and increasingly the Expo Hall at Macworld has been shifting toward hardware. To better serve our customers, we decided to pursue a more personal way to interact and talk software during the show.

(By the way, Macworld still has a full lineup of great talks, workshops, and special events.)

So it’s very important that we continue to make that happen. We’re stepping out and trying something different.

But we’ll still be around

This year we went to a new thing called Userconf. When we heard Chase from 37signals talk about their experimentation with showing off Basecamp, live and in-person to customers, we were intrigued. With OmniFocus (and all of our apps), introducing the app in a minute is difficult (You put things in completable projects after you do a brain dump and use contexts as places or things to do them!), so having 30 minutes to talk about specific features or concepts would be pretty cool.

So, we’re going to try it with The OmniFocus Setup! You can put your name and a question in for a session, and we’ll do the best that we can to see everyone. (With the caveat that, depending on interest, we might have to filter them a bit.)

The OmniFocus Setup

What The OmniFocus Setup is

So, on January 31st, we’re going to schedule a full day’s worth of OmniFocus “learning sessions” — usually 1-on-1s, but we’re going to turn popular topics into group sessions, too. Someone that really knows how to use OmniFocus (an Omni person) will be there to talk through workflows, features, or whatever, on iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

We’re also going to be doing another thing that we’re waiting to announce until early January, so follow us on twitter if you’ll be around during Macworld. (Remember the get-together during Macworld 2007?)

And a Little Bit More (Update!)

We’ve had a pretty great response to our plan for 1-on-1 learning sessions. A few other people (you’ve probably heard of ‘em) were excited enough to volunteer their brains and know-how, so we’ve added a bit more to our day.

If you’ll be in the area this year, please join us for a set of talks on OmniFocus with Kourosh Dini, Sven Fechner, Dina Sanders, Tim Stringer, and Mike Vardy. Afterwards, we’ll have a panel discussion. All the details here, and check back later for even more!

Our incoming phone numbers are down

by Troy on November 1, 2012

Edit: And we’re back!

Again, sorry for the inconvenience, we’ll be back to our normal office hours tomorrow morning.


For reasons unknown to us, our incoming phone system is down. We’re working with our service provider to correct the issue and apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused anyone trying to reach us.

In the meantime, we can still be reached by our usual email addresses and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

  • For Omni Mac app related questions. Use the Send Feedback link inside of the Help menu.
  • For Omni iPad app related questions. Use the Contact Omni link insed the gear menu of the Document picker.
  • And finally for OmniFocus for iPhone. Use the Send Feedback link in the Settings screen which is accesable via the Gear toolbar item on the home screen.

Email addresses are also available here on this website, just visit the product page and select support.

For general queries, please reach us at:

Help us make OmniOutliner accessible

by Ken Case on October 2, 2012

Accessibility is important to us here at Omni, and we have a long history of supporting accessibility in our apps. (In 2002, we added speech recognition to OmniWeb so you could surf the web using voice commands and ask it to read pages back to you using text-to-speech—even before the operating system itself was accessible.)

Unfortunately, we’ve fallen behind in our support for accessibility over the last few years—on both Mac and iOS, but particularly on iOS. Until our apps are fully accessible, we won’t consider them complete.

To that end, we’ve been working on making OmniOutliner for iPad accessible. As anyone who has used an accessible app knows, good accessibility design goes deeper than just slapping on some accessibility tags. Once we’re sure we’re on the right track with OmniOutliner, we’ll move on to making OmniFocus accessible.

Our internal QA team has reviewed the work we’ve done so far, and we think it’s ready for some external beta testing. We can’t post public beta builds of our iOS apps, but if you’re interested in joining our private beta-testing pool please contact us at

Thank you!