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‘there must be a systole and diastole in all inquiry, ... a ... mind must be continually expanding and shrinking between the whole human horizon and the horizon of an object-glass.’

Middlemarch ch 63

OmniFocus is an excellent aid to zooming in (focusing on the task in hand) but does it sometimes introduce a bit of friction and uncertainty in the phase of zooming *out* and rediscovering all the hidden detail ?

The quality of engineering in OF is second to none, and its architecture is very well conceived - it certainly provides a repository worthy of our confidence ...

but there are signs that the sense of confidence can sometimes get a little undermined by some difficulties in finding things, and by a worry that the the filter system may be concealing detail which we really want to be revealed ... It is surprising how often there are posts in this forum about data having "disappeared" or been concealed by unnoticed filter or focus settings, or by unnoticed implications of those settings.

It is clearly hard to strike a balance between simplicity and power, and between hiding things and finding them again. At the moment it seems to me that the phase of data 'hiding' (the systole of the mental cycle), is very well developed in OF. I also think, however, that there is still some room for development in the diastolic phase of zooming out, and rediscovering all the stuff that had been hidden ...

I'm not sure what plans there are for this side of things in OF 2.0, but my own suggestions might include:
  • Foregrounding the slightly buried Perspectives > All Items function (a button on the default toolbar, perhaps ?). I think it might be reassuring for users to know that there is a panic button which can be hit when things appear to have disappeared ...
  • Extending the power of Edit > Find and the "Type to filter the outline" bar so that they do more than just filter the current view or search the current project. They should really offer confidence that we can quickly retrieve everything that contains a particular pattern of text, whether currently hidden behind filter and focus or not.
  • Supporting a range of house-keeping searches
  • all projects or tasks which repeat
  • all projects which have no available next actions
  • all projects which have a high number of completed actions and only a few remaining
  • all projects which have an unusual review interval
etc. etc.
At the moment, I am personally doing all of this with applescript (I will post the generic code I am using when OF 1.8, which facilitates such things, is released) but I am not sure that writing or downloading applescripts is really the right route (for most users) to feeling more confident that everything is there, and can be found very solidly and quickly ...

Generally, I would like to think that OF 2.0 might become as helpful with the business of zooming out as OF 1 has been with zooming in.


Last edited by RobTrew; 2010-08-02 at 11:24 AM..