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Originally Posted by ifonline View Post
For example, if I want to navigate with the keyboard, how can I tell if the focus is on the sidebar on the left or the main list on the right when I have nothing selected? In other words, if I want to use the down arrow key to move the highlight to a specific task in the main list on the right (but nothing is currently selected either in the sidebar on the left or the main list on the right), it's a crap shoot as to whether the focus is on the left or the right. It's only by trial (and probable error) that I discover where the focus is. Frustrating.
But this is not an issue specific to OmniFocus -- similar issues exist in many Mac OS X apps that uses the standard sidebar and main content area layout (e.g. Mail, Finder, NetNewsWire, Yojimbo, etc.). For example, Command-click on a selected mailbox in Apple Mail, the selection highlighting disappears and there's no indication which pane (sidebar or main content area) has focus.

In all of these apps, including OmniFocus, the primary indication of focus is the color (and, in some cases, texture) of the sidebar highlighting. If the selection highlight in the sidebar is blue (using default colors), focus is in the sidebar. If the selection highlight in the sidebar is gray, then focus is elsewhere -- probably in the main content area. If there's no sidebar selection, focus becomes less important because (usually) no data is being displayed in the main content area.

Which brings us to one important difference between OmniFocus and these other Mac OS X apps: By default, OmniFocus displays your entire outline in the main content area when there's no sidebar selection. All of the other apps I mentioned above leave the main content area empty when nothing is selected in the sidebar.

So in the case of OmniFocus, when nothing is selected in the sidebar, it's difficult to tell which pane has focus.

The solution, or at least an improvement, is to either (A) Require that something is always selected in the sidebar, or (B) Don't display content in the main content area when nothing is selected in the sidebar. Option B has the distinct advantage of following the precedent established by other apps.

Fortunately, OmniFocus can be configured to do option B:

defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniFocus LeaveEmptySelectionEmpty -bool yes
This will make OmniFocus show nothing in the content area if you have nothing selected in the sidebar (instead of showing everything).

Personally, I think this should be the default behavior, but a hidden default is good enough for me.

Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
From my perspective, OF does behave as normal. Think of all the text showing as a single document. Then down arrow is doing the normal thing; it goes to the next row of the document. Note that Cmd-right goes to the end of the current line of text.
I agree with Curt. OmniFocus treats items in your outline (projects, action groups, actions) as simple lines of text rather as discrete, isolated, database records. So working with your outline feels like you're manipulating text in a simple text editor or word processor rather than a clunky database program; yet OmniFocus still maintains many of the organizational advantages of the database program.

In my mind, this is a huge advantage over more conventional designs where you need to double-click on a list item to edit it, and arrow key cursor movement is restricted to only the current field. I've written about this in more detail in other threads: