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OmniFocus

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Posted by Randall Shinn
Jan 11, 2008 at 01:48 PM

 

43Folders called my attention to OmniFocus http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnifocus/, a new OS X program about to be released which is generating a lot of buzz as a GTD application. It looks great. Omni seems intent on developing outliner software that takes advantage of OS X’s ability to let software interact with each other.

I sometimes think of software programs as personal assistants. OS X’s model seems to treat software applications as team members who are allowed to communicate directly with each other. Windows’s model seems to treat software applications as individual workers who can only communicate through a middle manager (the registry) who thrives on creating barriers between individuals via arcane permissions and rules.

The OS X approach ultimately seems far more productive because it allows for easier development of specialized programs like OmniFocus that interact effortlessly with your other personal assistants.

R Shinn

 


Posted by Chris Thompson
Jan 11, 2008 at 07:02 PM

 

What you’re describing is actually the original UNIX philosophy… many small programs which interact with your data in various ways using a variety of common facilities provided by the OS.  One of the nice things about OS X is that it does tend to draw on this philosophy.  For example, should it matter whether you’re viewing your list of todos in Mail, or in iCal, or in TimeLog, or Bento, or OmniFocus?  Each presents a different view, but the underlying data is the same (well, OmniFocus has to sync, but the next (Leopard only) version may not have to).  Let programs slice and dice data in ways they’re good at, then share it, rather than being monolithic cathedrals.

Regarding OmniFocus, I’m somewhat split.  I think the user interface is a little heavy right now.  It’s a version 1.0 product of course, so it will be improved.  It will definitely appeal to the class of people who used Ecco as a project management or GTD tool.  It’s more structured than Ecco, which is a bit of a tradeoff, but I think the idea is to use OmniOutliner for unstructured data with columns and OmniFocus for lightweight project/task management.

Though OmniFocus has its pros, I personally prefer Things:
http://culturedcode.com/things/
It’s much more unstructured than OmniFocus, and still lacks some important features (it’s in beta), but the user interface is extraordinarily well thought out, and its support for arbitrary, hierarchical tagging allows you to develop your own workflows.  I’m a sucker for these kinds of unstructured apps (which is probably why I always loved Ecco).

—Chris


Randall Shinn wrote:
>I sometimes think of software programs as
>personal assistants. OS X’s model seems to treat software applications as team
>members who are allowed to communicate directly with each other. Windows’s model
>seems to treat software applications as individual workers who can only communicate
>through a middle manager (the registry) who thrives on creating barriers between
>individuals via arcane permissions and rules.
> >The OS X approach ultimately seems
>far more productive because it allows for easier development of specialized
>programs like OmniFocus that interact effortlessly with your other personal
>assistants.

 


Posted by Randall Shinn
Feb 27, 2008 at 02:49 PM

 

Chris,

I am now busy setting up my new Mac Pro, and I agree wholehearted with your preference for Things over OmniFocus as a GTD/To Do manager. Omni is an excellent company, and I’m using OmniOutliner to help keep track of the process of installing new software and moving decades of information from Windows to OS X. But I am more comfortable with the flexibility of Things than the more set structure of OmniFocus.

And Scrivener seems wonderful for a similar reason. As a writing program I love its ability to flexibly structure a developing work and store random thoughts and information.

Randall Shinn

Chris Thompson wrote:

>Though OmniFocus has its
>pros, I personally prefer Things:
>http://culturedcode.com/things/
>It’s much
>more unstructured than OmniFocus, and still lacks some important features (it’s in
>beta), but the user interface is extraordinarily well thought out, and its support
>for arbitrary, hierarchical tagging allows you to develop your own workflows.  I’m a
>sucker for these kinds of unstructured apps (which is probably why I always loved
>Ecco).

 


Posted by Chris Thompson
Feb 27, 2008 at 07:58 PM

 

Good to hear you’re having a positive experience.  Keep us posted on your thoughts and comparisons.

BTW, the next version of OmniOutliner is slated to bring in many of the features developed for OmniFocus/OmniPlan: hiding columns, custom column sets for different rows/sections, view filtering, etc.  It’s not due for a while though.

—Chris

Randall Shinn wrote:
>Chris,
> >I am now busy setting up my new Mac Pro, and I agree wholehearted with your
>preference for Things over OmniFocus as a GTD/To Do manager. Omni is an excellent
>company, and I’m using OmniOutliner to help keep track of the process of installing
>new software and moving decades of information from Windows to OS X. But I am more
>comfortable with the flexibility of Things than the more set structure of
>OmniFocus.
> >And Scrivener seems wonderful for a similar reason. As a writing
>program I love its ability to flexibly structure a developing work and store random
>thoughts and information.
> >Randall Shinn

 


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