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Why OmniFocus v1 didn't support multiple contexts per action Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Quote:
Originally Posted by svsmailus View Post
I'd be a bit cautious about this. Just because something has been mentioned as a possibility does not mean it will become a reality. Omni does not have a speedy development cycle. The current version of Omnifocus was initially released in 2008. That makes it just over 6 years old. Version two, apart from the iPhone, is not out yet.
Speedy development cycles also have their detractors. We see people complain about how Adobe pushes out a new Adobe Suite upgrade every year. It appears that the changes are incremental but we pay the full upgrade price or just skip every other version upgrade. We see yearly updates to the iPhone and people complain that it isn't revolutionary enough. There seems to be a new FileMaker Pro update every year with small incremental changes and an upgrade price.

On the other spectrum, Omni has been steadily updating OmniFocus without charging for it. Omni has been also busy trying to keep up with the various iOS updates and adding features that we didn't have before. Things like iOS Reminder integration, an iPad app, and two iPhone apps (OF 1 for iPhone and OF 2 for iPhone).


Heck, we also see programs get long in the tooth all the time. Microsoft Office hasn't been updated since 2011 is one example. Within the last week, there was a huge outcry about Apple taking 4 days to address a security program with Mac OS X.

So there is no real definition about speedy development process. Omni had to deal with keeping their programs compatible with multiple versions of Mac OS X and iOS and slowly adding features at the same time.


Quote:
Basing your use of omnifocus on the possibility of multiple contexts could cause you considerable investment financially and you may not see multiple context for a number of years.
I don't know about this. There are many people who have been working just fine with single contexts. No serious considerable financial investment lost here. But of course I also would love to see tags and am willing to wait for it. But for now, many folks have their system humming along just fine or have switched to other tools with the intent of coming back to OmniFocus to see what the future holds.

Quote:
I use omnifocus less and less as it is too inflexible for my productivity focus. I use Covey matrix. Omnifocus is great if you work the way it wants you to. If not you'll end up endlessly tweaking it and not being effective.
I've found that OmniFocus has actually been quite flexible. Its flexibility lends itself to becoming difficult to use. But its flexibility has also allowed me to change my folder structures and use of contexts over the years.

I've also found that it made me challenge myself. We can have well baked ideas and philosophies that may have worked in 2010 but no longer work in 2014. Sometimes, it is a good idea to face one's self in the mirror and find other ways. I've used the Covey matrix a few years ago. I've found other similar philosophies that actually support the Covey matrix and expanded on it. I don't see a reason to stay with one philosophy. I like changing my productivity system as my needs and demands change over the years. In high school and college, an ABC priority method may have worked well for me but it won't work now. My life is very different and needed a different productivity system to handle a different workload. I know that when I retire, I'll probably not need the capabilities as much because my work demands will have dramatically changed or been reduced.

As always, we're always looking at one software package or another. It's good to switch when you need to. But every time I've tried switching, I find features of OmniFocus that I can't seem to find in other programs and end up coming right back. The last time, I had tried out Things 2 for a month. It didn't take. I just missed so much of OmniFocus. I switched back. But I did find several aspects of Things that I would love to have. But it's not enough to keep me in Things.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
Speedy development cycles also have their detractors.
We're talking about 6 years here. None of the other software developers I use have this length of version cycles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
Omni has been also busy trying to keep up with the various iOS updates and adding features that we didn't have before. Things like iOS Reminder integration, an iPad app, and two iPhone apps (OF 1 for iPhone and OF 2 for iPhone).
Wow, you're not doing them any favours. Six years just to keep up-to-date with os changes. Apart from some minor changes OF hasn't changed much in this space of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I don't know about this. There are many people who have been working just fine with single contexts. No serious considerable financial investment lost here.
Two things.

1. Psilas mentioned sticking with OF based on multiple contexts being on the table, not because single contexts are great.
2. OF is serious financial investment. Desktop, iphone and ipad all together come to a not inconsequencial sum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I've found that OmniFocus has actually been quite flexible. Its flexibility lends itself to becoming difficult to use. But its flexibility has also allowed me to change my folder structures and use of contexts over the years.
Hardly flexible, "change folder structure and use of contexts"! Flexible means I can change the programme to suit my workflow. This is not possibe with OF. As mentioned before apart from cumbersome work-arounds Covey's matrix cannot be used. The same applies for tasks that have multiple contexts such as a tool and a person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I've also found that it made me challenge myself. We can have well baked ideas and philosophies that may have worked in 2010 but no longer work in 2014.
Exactly, so an app that has seen little real change since 2008 is going to be a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I like changing my productivity system as my needs and demands change over the years.
So do I. I do not change my core system, because it is reliable and I'm effective using it. I do however, tweak the system. This is where OF has become increasingly untenable as it does not allow this.

I have a heavy workload. Covey's roles and important principles work well for me. The only task management system that was almost perfect was The Hit List. Sadly, the developer has issues and development has almost but stopped. The Mac app is still great, but I need iPad support which it doesn't offer.

I have some 40 active projects and a couple of hundred tasks. Importance plays a key role in allowing me to see what I should be working on. Roles also enable me to be balanced in life rather than focusing on just one role to the exclusion of others.

At the moment Things best allows me to use this system. Areas are great for roles and tags allow me to use urgent and important criteria. Along with this I am responsible for many people. This also needs to be included into the mix of tasks, which incidently can be rudimentally done with Things' contact option. One context is a joke. Even suggesting that one should use #tag in the item description demonstrates the need for more than one context (as suggested by Ken himself earlier in this thread). I'm amazed that omni has been dragging its feet for so long on this issue.

I've really wanted to like OF and tried to use and re-use many times, but the single context kills the whole thing or forces my to lengthy workarounds that reduce my effectiveness.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by svsmailus View Post
We're talking about 6 years here. ...

Even suggesting that one should use #tag in the item description demonstrates the need for more than one context ... I'm amazed that omni has been dragging its feet for so long on this issue.

I've really wanted to like OF and tried to use and re-use many times, but the single context kills the whole thing or forces my to lengthy workarounds that reduce my effectiveness.
I have to agree with the negative statements, even though I currently have no need for multiple contexts or tags in my workflow and I currently find OF 1 rather good for what I need.

The stubbornness with which OG has taken a stand against multiple contexts or tags, only to change positions now and fall to (what I think is a kludge) #hashtags in notes, indicates to me a serious reluctance on their part to innovate. I have a card on my bulletin board with a dinosaur against a background of falling comets. It says, Innovate or Die. While I think loyalty to OF may still strong, I also think the next big innovation in a GTD app with a solid design can kill that customer loyalty quickly.

In summary, I have this nagging feeling that, by going only part way, OG is essentially not going in the right direction on the issue of multiple contexts and tags. I have the same sense on some others issues too (e.g. the iPhone 2 update that looses the option for custom layouts of custom perspectives on the home screen at the expense of adding a "prettier" interface design). At the end of it all, while I still like OF and am productive using it, I have a sense that OG are just lumbering blissfully along with where they want to take it, much as a somewhat clueless dinosaur who may be about to face a comet storm.
 
It doesn't sound so far fetched to me (as a professional software developer) that the lack of movement on this is a database issue - they have to coordinate 3 separate versions to maintain compatibility (it's not a trusted system if it stops working the same on one or more devices), and I take Ken's statement that OF2 will address the database issue at face value.

Of course you could also ignore this and continue complaining whilst forgetting that it's a free market and no-one is forcing you to use OmniFocus. If it doesn't work for you you're free to go use something else - personally I come to this forum for OmniFocus chat and updates from the team, not to listen to loads of people who have never posted here before come and complain endlessly about how their system is broken by not having multiple contexts. They work fine for me personally, and if they didn't I wouldn't use OmniFocus.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by intranation View Post
If it doesn't work for you you're free to go use something else
...and there it is. The statement that has been rehashed in hundreds of forums and is a complete cop-out. It fails to appreciate investment of the user in a product. This is not a one-sided gig, where I commit to omni financially, and invest time and effort, but they are under no obligation to commit to me as a customer.

I'm not an isolated case, and please note omni themselves have even changed the title of this thread that caused a response from users. This is specifically to do with single contexts, that's what this thread is about. If you look through the forum you will find a high volume of chatter about single and multiple contexts. This chatter demonstrates that there are significant numbers on both sides of the fence. Up until now, omni has only ever supported single contexts. The change of this thread's title and some comments from Omni representatives including Ken Case are beginning to reveal that their current decision has ostracised many OF users who prefer to work in a different manner due to their personal productivity philosphy. Had people not voiced there desire and even argued it in these forums, I doubt omni would consider bringing in mutliples contexts and/or tags.

I'm glad OF works fine for your personally, but for me and many others it doesn't. We've highlighted that omni could make changes that would not ruin your workflow, but make the workflow of others much easier. I'm really glad that omni is listening. I take Ken's comments positively and look with anticipation to what future OF updates will bring. I will however, continue to make comments that I believe will make OF a better product and more suitable to more people. Surely in doing that it's a win/win situation for all? Perhaps we say things in frustration that could have been said kinder or we get overzealous with our viewpoint. I hope these things can be excused. The goal is the perfect task manager and OF certainly has the ability to become this.

If every time I found something problematic in a product I purchased and just stayed silent and made no comments nothing would be achieved. The business would lose a customer and I a product. It's through discussion and comments that we understand and make ourselves understood and this creates the possiblity for change that is mutually beneficial.
 
Quote:
We're talking about 6 years here. None of the other software developers I use have this length of version cycles.
But if the development cycles were shortened as we see with Adobe Suite and Filemaker, we would be scratching our heads about why we should be upgrading to the latest and greatest when feature set upgrade is minimal.

I also think that we may be seeing the trees but can't see the forest. Omni has been busy with their other product lineup. They can't ignore their other offerings, can they?

OmniFocus
OmniOutliner
OmniGraffle
OmniPlan
Omnipresence
Omni Sync Server
OmniFocus Maildrop

The only other thing I can think of is to have OmniFocus spin itself off into another company dedicated to nothing but OmniFocus. But even single product companies like Things and The Hit List haven’t been able to speed up their product cycle.

I also see the same arguments at the Things forum.

"They're so slow…"
"Why aren't they implementing my feature request already? Everybody wants it! It should be easy to implement!"
"Why can't they just hire more developers to get the job finished?"
"How come they didn't see this coming?""
"Why are they so inflexible?"



A lot of the behind-the-scenes work that went into OmniOutliner will be making its way into OmniFocus 2. So we can bet that there was significant process made to OmniFocus’ underlying engine.

OmniFocus is like a theater stage play. There are so many behind-the-scenes events that go on that the audience doesn't see. Rehearsals, revisions, tweaking, costumes, lighting, auditions, etc.




Quote:
Wow, you're not doing them any favours. Six years just to keep up-to-date with os changes. Apart from some minor changes OF hasn't changed much in this space of time.
Keeping up with OS changes are not small things that should be considered trivial. In many IT departments, we can still see many who are still stuck in Windows XP or have just only recently upgraded to Windows 7. They're not in any hurry to upgrade to Windows 8.

OmniFocus has changed quite a lot since its inception. Look at the release notes to get an idea of what they’re doing. They’re not standing still.

http://www.omnigroup.com/releasenotes/omnifocus


Quote:
1. Psilas mentioned sticking with OF based on multiple contexts being on the table, not because single contexts are great.
no argument here. I would also love to see tagging that can take the place of multiple contexts. But reality is what it is. We’re just gonna have to wait for multiple contexts/tags.


Quote:
2. OF is serious financial investment. Desktop, iphone and ipad all together come to a not inconsequencial sum.
I think the sum I paid for the three OmniFocus apps has paid itself back ten times over for the productivity gains I received.


Quote:
Hardly flexible, "change folder structure and use of contexts"! Flexible means I can change the programme to suit my workflow. This is not possibe with OF. As mentioned before apart from cumbersome work-arounds Covey's matrix cannot be used. The same applies for tasks that have multiple contexts such as a tool and a person.
Bruce Lee quote:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1385/...ike-Water.html

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

It seems that everyone finds their own way through a program. Flexible can also mean evolving and adapting over time to new changes.



Quote:
So do I. I do not change my core system, because it is reliable and I'm effective using it. I do however, tweak the system. This is where OF has become increasingly untenable as it does not allow this.

I have a heavy workload. Covey's roles and important principles work well for me. The only task management system that was almost perfect was The Hit List. Sadly, the developer has issues and development has almost but stopped. The Mac app is still great, but I need iPad support which it doesn't offer.

I have some 40 active projects and a couple of hundred tasks. Importance plays a key role in allowing me to see what I should be working on. Roles also enable me to be balanced in life rather than focusing on just one role to the exclusion of others.

At the moment Things best allows me to use this system. Areas are great for roles and tags allow me to use urgent and important criteria. Along with this I am responsible for many people. This also needs to be included into the mix of tasks, which incidently can be rudimentally done with Things' contact option. One context is a joke. Even suggesting that one should use #tag in the item description demonstrates the need for more than one context (as suggested by Ken himself earlier in this thread). I'm amazed that omni has been dragging its feet for so long on this issue.

I've really wanted to like OF and tried to use and re-use many times, but the single context kills the whole thing or forces my to lengthy workarounds that reduce my effectiveness.
I also wished that The Hit List was able to get off the ground. Folders in OmniFocus can be used to classify projects into Roles, Areas of Responsibilities, or moments in time (Spring Projects, Summer Projects, Autumn Projects, Winter Projects). That’s what I call flexible.

Why not use hashtags for the moment? Now that we can create saved perspectives with search criteria, it appears that OmniFocus 2 for iPhone can use those perspectives as well.


But in the end, at least Omni is considering tags. The schedule has been set. OmniFocus 2.0 for Mac will keep backwards compatibility and hopefully give us that user interface refresh that many have been asking for. Then OmniFocus 2 for iPad should be coming a bit afterwards. Then it’ll be time to look forward to OmniFocus 2.1. That’s probably when we’ll see changes to OmniFocus that will give us multiple contexts and tags that some of us are asking for.

+1 to intranation's post. Come back to OmniFocus if you find it has finally changed to fit your needs. I know I've tried out the various demos whenever something new shows up. But I just keep coming back to OmniFocus.

It's not easy developing software. Customers wants their feature wish list yesterday. But it takes time and careful thought/consideration to implement. At least, we know that Omni is being deliberate and delivering feature sets on a schedule that shows promise.

We can debate until we're blue in the face. It looks like Omni is listening.

Last edited by wilsonng; 2014-02-26 at 08:26 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
But if the development cycles were shortened as we see with Adobe Suite and Filemaker, we would be scratching our heads about why we should be upgrading to the latest and greatest when feature set upgrade is minimal.
You cannot compare the devlopment cycle of applications that clearly are not equal. Adobe and Filemaker are not a good comparison to OF

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I also think that we may be seeing the trees but can't see the forest. Omni has been busy with their other product lineup. They can't ignore their other offerings, can they?

OmniFocus
OmniOutliner
OmniGraffle
OmniPlan
Omnipresence
Omni Sync Server
OmniFocus Maildrop
If omni doesn't have the manpower then they either need to increase it or drop products. This is not a good argument. I'm interacting with OF not Omniplan. If I had purchased a suite of apps I might agree with you, but I haven't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
The only other thing I can think of is to have OmniFocus spin itself off into another company dedicated to nothing but OmniFocus. But even single product companies like Things and The Hit List haven’t been able to speed up their product cycle.
THL has lost users because of it's poor development cycle. Things has a much faster turn around the Omni. Things 1 was released in 2009. Things 2 in 2012. That's half omni update cycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I also see the same arguments at the Things forum.


"They're so slow…"
"Why aren't they implementing my feature request already? Everybody wants it! It should be easy to implement!"
"Why can't they just hire more developers to get the job finished?"
"How come they didn't see this coming?""
"Why are they so inflexible?"
I agree with you. There are still things to be done. My real gripe with Things is its tags implementation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
A lot of the behind-the-scenes work that went into OmniOutliner will be making its way into OmniFocus 2. So we can bet that there was significant process made to OmniFocus’ underlying engine.
Actually this is untrue. Omni have made no change to OO data architecture. http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=29454

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
OmniFocus has changed quite a lot since its inception. Look at the release notes to get an idea of what they’re doing. They’re not standing still.
Hardly major changes. Omni is pretty much what is was in 2008 in terms of functionality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I think the sum I paid for the three OmniFocus apps has paid itself back ten times over for the productivity gains I received.
I've been every bit if not more productive with applications that cost half of omni's outlay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
Bruce Lee quote:

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

It seems that everyone finds their own way through a program. Flexible can also mean evolving and adapting over time to new changes.
Totally disagree. A mind like water achieves very little. An empty mind becomes open to all sorts of negative influences. Water does not become a bottle or cup if poured into them. It may take on their shape, but it is still water.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
I also wished that The Hit List was able to get off the ground. Folders in OmniFocus can be used to classify projects into Roles, Areas of Responsibilities, or moments in time (Spring Projects, Summer Projects, Autumn Projects, Winter Projects). That’s what I call flexible.

Why not use hashtags for the moment? Now that we can create saved perspectives with search criteria, it appears that OmniFocus 2 for iPhone can use those perspectives as well.
The workaround to get omni to do what Things automatically does is to cumbersome and counterproductive. I really like the perspectives in OF, but Things' areas and contacts is excellent. I also really like the review on iPad, but alas it's only on iPad. Folders really do not help as you cannot use them effectively for Covey's matrix. I need roles, contexts, priorites, people. OF at the moment does not do this well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
+1 to intranation's post. Come back to OmniFocus if you find it has finally changed to fit your needs. I know I've tried out the various demos whenever something new shows up. But I just keep coming back to OmniFocus.
I do, every so often I fire her up and see how it's doing. The problem is with OF 2 round the corner there is another considerable financial outlay. Considering that I never really got a great deal out of OF 1, I'm not sure I want to invest. At least until multiple contexts is included.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
It's not easy developing software. Customers wants their feature wish list yesterday. But it takes time and careful thought/consideration to implement. At least, we know that Omni is being deliberate and delivering feature sets on a schedule that shows promise
This I understand, but some features have been requested years ago such as multiple contexts.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
...
But in the end, at least Omni is considering tags. The schedule has been set. OmniFocus 2.0 for Mac will keep backwards compatibility and hopefully give us that user interface refresh that many have been asking for. Then OmniFocus 2 for iPad should be coming a bit afterwards. Then it’ll be time to look forward to OmniFocus 2.1. That’s probably when we’ll see changes to OmniFocus that will give us multiple contexts and tags that some of us are asking for.
The arguments from others are akin to this ... OG is late to the race, has decided to run the race with crutches of their own making, and will take time to put on its make-up while the other contestants do the first lap or so ahead.

As a hobbyist dabbler in software development (for a data analysis system) over the years, I understand the pressures to sustain the current framework against those that demand a break from that same framework to move to the next S curve in product cycle.

In this regard, I would expect by now, the decision should have been resolutely made within OG to do tags / multiple context right or absolutely to not do them at all. Sustaining backward compatibility in database layout is a poor excuse for the delay to date. It is also a poor excuse for #hashtagging them in as hidden objects in note fields. Comparing the "we are sure that we know tags/multiple contexts are not good for you" language that has been posted in the many years of the past against the "we now see the light, hallelujah (but only in a kludgey sort of way, amen)" also tends to leave a somewhat sour feeling behind.

Innovate or Die ... At some point really has to mean something to the gut instincts of how a software company decides to cycle its products. The next stage will surely be a call to strengthen collaborative tool sets. So, when this push hits, will OG still be trying to find their backsides to decide what the heck they should do to make OF "prettier" or "even more compatible"? Rather than bite the bullet one way or the other, will they fall instead back to the same ambiguous "we think we know better" or "it could break our compatibility" mantras?

(sigh)

One of my New Years Resolutions was to stop stirring the pot across a broad range of things that I do (forum posting being one of them). Perhaps I'll try to do that for Lent. :-)
 
Where do I go to add my vote for metadata? (I've begged for it many times in these forums, not sure any of that counted as "votes" though.)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
In most of the tagging requests that we've seen over the years, there's often little to no thematic relationship between the ones being requested. You'll see person-related ones, time-related ones, and place- or energy-related ones all attached to the same action and used simultaneously. For every N tags assigned to an action, folks want to see that action simultaneously on N lists, and those lists may 'mean' very different things.

[...]

Once you figure out which theme works best for you, though, you can build a context tree to support it - and in our experience, once you know what the best theme is, the other stuff is just cluttering up your workflow and distracting you. I think that last part is what's so hard for folks used to tagging systems to understand.

The simplicity of a single-theme approach is actually a feature; it's not a shortcoming that needs to be addressed or worked around.
One thing I think you're missing here is that there are many reasons to want to view a filtered list of tasks other than being ready to work on them. Off the top of my head, I might need to review tasks from different contexts and projects for the same client or with input from the same vendor/subcontractor, or billable versus non-billable.

Last edited by eurobubba; 2014-03-09 at 12:48 PM..
 
 


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