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dp1 2011-02-11 09:31 AM

OF as part of a unified system?
Imagine a paper-based workflow system consisting of a calendar, action list, and journal (often in the same book). When a project is in the future, this system functions as a planning and reminder system. As the project goes active, the system morphs into a project management tool, with messages, diagrams, and copies of formal outputs being written or pasted into the journal. As the project is completed, the addition of some index entries turns the system into a historical record and work log - a reference tool searchable topically and chronologically. One system accomplishes all of these tasks. The problems (at least in my world) are that the data stream is largely digital, making conversion to paper inefficient, and the volume of work is simply too much to manage in so simple a system. Still, the ability manage the whole of life in one system retains its appeal.

OF is all about task management. It doesn't make any claims to being a work log, historical record, or reference system. Have any people on the list attempted to make it do what I've described above? If so, how did that work out? Alternatively, have you found historical and reference systems that dovetail efficiently with OF? Finally, how do you manage all of the above while syncing OF across two computers, an iPad, and an iPhone?

GrumpyDave 2011-02-11 07:33 PM

The problem I see with trying to store reference information within the completed projects in OmniFocus is that eventually you're going to archive the old projects to an offline database. Once you do that, finding the reference material is problematic. Besides, searching in OF just isn't as flexible as in the tools designed for information storage and retrieval. I think most people agree that using an external tool for information and files is the way to go. DEVONthink, Yojimbo, EagleFiler, Together, Evernote, OmniOutliner, and even the Finder are some of the more popular options.

One of the features that helps integrate OmniFocus projects with these tools is the ability to use hyperlinks to directly open a task or piece of information. You can add a link in an OmniFocus task that references a document in DEVONthink. When you click on the link the document pops up. You can also add a link in the document's attributes that references the OmniFocus task. Click the link, open the task. This two-way reference ties the two tools together quite well while letting each tool do what it does best.

As for keeping it all in sync, OmniFocus does this better than anyone at the moment. DEVONthink is currently working on syncing between Macs but also has a built-in web server that can serve up information plus a universal iOS app. Yojimbo syncs with MobileMe and doesn't seem too interested in doing it any other way though it also has an integrated web server for sharing data that works well plus an iPad only app. I'm not sure what the state of EagleFiler is but knowing the developer I'd be surprised if it's not on his radar. Evernote is all about syncing since it's "cloud" based. Finder can make use of Dropbox. The rest I don't know.

dp1 2011-02-12 04:58 AM

OF as part of a unified system?
Thanks for your reply, GrumpyDave. I'm certain that you're correct that, at least at the current stage of development, there isn't a system that does it all. Better to have specialized tools that talk to one another. I've tried all of the tools you mentioned (multiple times), and keep coming back to a combination of OmniOutliner and the Finder for reference and work log. I had completely overlooked, however, the ability to embed in OO a link back to OF. That may prove helpful. Thanks for educating me.

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