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Uh, guys? PLEASE... step back and re-evaluate OF Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I know I'll get flamed for this, but I WAS insanely excited to play with OmniFocus! I thought it would be the best, since it was of course an Omni product... I waited for my turn to be "summoned", downloaded it and launched it and...

woah.

Okay, so I get that it's "Kinkless.app". I understand (sort of) the reasoning behind doing that (I also used Kinkless, and thought it was pretty great). But this program is so intellectually unfinished--not code-wise, but thought-wise-- that I almost can't use it. Me, a GTD-obsessed, "Zen of Mac"-living, productivity junkie. The damn thing just isn't designed in an intuitive way.

I don't want to be overly negative. I really want OF to be awesome. Here's just a few of the things I've noticed:

1. Someone PLEASE tell me why every single thing must be done through QuickEntry? Why must everything go through the Inbox, even if we already know what context it'll be in? Why can we not simply go to a Context and click "Add Action"?? Is this not a logical idea?

Clicking "Add Action" while in contexts view switches your view BACK to projects and adds an action in whatever random project you were last looking at (usually something from several hours ago). If I delete the line that got entered for me (as a result of this behavior), and maybe delete the few on top that also resulted from this (when ALL I WANTED TO DO was add a 5-minute action to my @online context!!), I run the risk of deleting the entire project - the project header is the same as all other lines of text, so if it gets deleted one must go back to the left side of the window, click the plus, fill out any important info relating to it, etc. Why can you delete projects from within their Action view? Project management (addition/deletion) should be confined to the left panel-- it is the ONLY way this makes sense. Has Apple ever shown the name of an iTunes playlist above its songs and made it possible for you to delete the first track, accidentally hit delete again and REMOVE THE PLAYLIST? No.

I know that if you've got a project in mind, you can bypass Inbox by Adding an Action, but that wording gives no indication that Actions can (for some reason) only be added to projects which may or may not be what you're currently looking at If the button is going to SWITCH YOUR VIEW, it had better indicate as such. This is simply poor UI design.

2. While in Contexts view, you are unable to move ANY actions. I have plenty of single-time ("5-minute-rule") actions that I'd prefer to not get BURIED under a mass of project-related actions. The default behavior is, quite frankly, stupid. Can we at least put them up top, above all of our longer-term Action commitments (if we aren't going to be able to manually sort them)?

3. The Project View +/- buttons are frustrating. THEY work as expected, but adding an action requires a different button (Add Action)? Why not the traditional row of double plus/minus buttons? This would also allow for the obvious solution to being able to create new contexts, as well as the actions within them, in a logical way.

4. The "clean up" button, and its functionality, are so frustrating for a DESKTOP-CLASS APPLICATION that I don't know where to begin. These are computers. They can clean up after themselves. It's things like this that make me wonder if our technology's actually made any kind of impact on our getting work done, or if it's just taking up extra CPU cycles. What we have here is a manually-correcting To-Do list.

5. I'm assuming Process (as a GTD phase) is simply not in the code yet. It's probably the most important of all, so please, please try to make it intuitive?

6. The Omni Inspector was cool in 10.0.3. It's not cool anymore. There are so many better ways of implementing the same functions ("Dashboard"-type popups, a quick balloon-help type entry field, a small area at the bottom of the main window... I know drawers aren't in vogue anymore either, but they sure beat Inspector windows). Having to keep that damn thing on-screen all the time, just to use when making EDITS, is a nuisance. I know you guys are real fond of the Inspector (it's in every Omni program), but for the limited range of functions a program like OF is supposed to have compared to a monster like OmniPlan, this kind of thing can be simplified immensely.

I would never have expected it, but it is such an incredible headache adding items to, and managing items within, Omnifocus. Simple steps, such as adding a new book to @reading or turning an accidentally-created Project into a single-time Action, are needlessly complicated and continually remind one that they are interfacing with a COMPUTER. This is so un-Maclike that I'm sad to see it come from Omni... I don't want to HAVE to use Quicksilver (though, God, I love it) in order to escape your UI!

Please, please remember that the reason for task management software is to allow you to focus on your work, and not on learning the software. I'm a smart guy, but OF is just unintuitive. (Ask a HI designer at Apple if you want someone more well-versed than I to really tear it apart...) I'm even going to venture that anyone who says otherwise has not really stepped back and examined it from the perspective of how "normal people" might use it.

Speaking of un-Maclike, I am using iGTD at the moment and find that at least it's logical--even though interface-wise it's a dog, it has a rhythm to its views/task management that is easy to pick up and use. It's trivial for me to add new tasks, in whatever view I happen to be in, and then get right to work. I'm not hawking iGTD by any means, since it has plenty of flaws, but the developer does understand how people use the software. I would humbly suggest that OmniGroup at least take a look at it.

[rant off]
 
dmaterialized,

Two suggestions that might help you live in OmniFocus.

1. Try using the return key to add actions. Select a project, press return, ...

2. It's an alpha. If you aren't ready to use an unpolished app, wait awhile.
 
Firstly, do remember this is an alpha release. If you've never worked closely with a developer before, this is probably a few steps before what you are used to; even if you have tried public betas (which are usually closer to release candidates than anything else). Here, there are parts of the interface that simply do nothing yet. Other parts that do things, but only in a very temporary "get it good enough to work" fashion. It is a work in progress, not a product yet. :)

1) I am sure that this whole bit is just an alpha quirk. You already can add actions directly to a context--just by doing it differently than you are. At the moment, the easiest way to do it (I think) is set filter to group by Context, and then select the context header in the main area (not the shelf), and press enter. Works for me.

2) Probably another alpha thing, there are a lot of quirks in this particular area of the application at the moment. The ability to even have actions without projects was programmed in last week, give them some slack here. :)

3) Not really sure what you are getting at here. Since I use the keyboard for everything (hate mousing around), I really have no opinion on what you are talking about. The keyboard shortcuts work splendid for me.

4) Yeah, I have issues with clean up too, but not the same issues. There are two tasks that it does that I know of. One is moving Inbox stuff to appropriate locations. This should definitely be manual. Why would you want OF to move everything out of the Inbox before you've had a chance to look at it and classify it? My problem with it is that it also functions as a way to clear out items that should be filtered from the view, but are not. If I have a filter set that excludes me adding new actions to a project, OF will temporarily show these new actions as I add them. Rather than hiding them instantly. This is good. When you are done though, hitting Clean Up will restore your view, removing the new actions that do not match the filter. BUT, better hope your Inbox was all ready to clean up, too! Otherwise you might have a dozen actions scattered who knows where, that you may not even really remember enough of what they were to search for them.

5) Processing is informal at the moment.

6) Fully agree on six. I don't like drawers or palettes.

Quote:
Simple steps, such as adding a new book to @reading or turning an accidentally-created Project into a single-time Action, are needlessly complicated and continually remind one that they are interfacing with a COMPUTER.
Anyway. I don't share your pain with adding actions. I found the process to be quite simple. Quick Entry works just how I need it to. And organising and adding tasks to projects feels just like working in an outliner. That's the way I think. You keep tapping enter to make new tasks below the current one, and using short-cuts to indent/outdent if necessary.

How to change a project into an action? Just drag it down into the appropriate project, or into the Inbox if you want. Same goes for actions that should be projects--just drag them into the shelf. What is so complicated about that?

I tried iGTD and couldn't stand it, honestly. Philosophy differences with how it is designed. I feel tasks should be simple things, and way way too much of the UI is devoted to adding bulk to tasks. It just didn't feel very fluid to me, and that is important to me. I don't plan much. Things change as I work, constantly, and the outliner philosophy works much better for that.

Last edited by AmberV; 2007-06-14 at 11:25 AM..
 
I'll second Amber on these things (except I like drawers and palettes).

I've never had a problem adding things -- I go where I want something, hit Return, and get an empty line to fill in. In fact, I've only used Quick Entry to try it out. I also rarely use Inbox ... because I know which Project / Task Group my new item fits in.


But I have a more philosophic comment here.

No software application is going to work for everyone. The developers have a specific logic pattern in mind, and the app will work best for those who think the same way as the developers. [Which is why I always preferred Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel. Excel never made sense to me.]

I hear many people complaining that OmniFocus "isn't as good" as a competing app. I don't thin it's because OF isn't good, but because the user's thought structure more closely matches that of the iGTD, or ThinkingRock, or ??? developers. I've tried those programs, and they didn't work for me. But they may work well for someone else.

So, to be blunt, if you don't like the flow of OF, don't use it! Use something else that matches your style. OF matches my style, so I'll keep using it.

And finally, remember this is alpha software, missing major features, polished UI, and is buggy. We're seeing what OF will be, and shouldn't focus on what it is now -- except for feedback. Read the list of upcoming features. If you require one of them, don't complain if OF isn't working now.

--Liz
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmaterialized
I'm a smart guy, but OF is just unintuitive.
I would probably qualify as a smart guy, too, and OmniFocus is the very first app of its kind that I could actually use to improve my productivity the very first time I launched it.

Maybe you simply don't like the app's 'face'. I had the same experience with iGTD. Tried hard to like it, but couldn't, because I find it ugly and unwieldy. To each his own.
 
"Hello, I'd like to complain that this alpha isn't finished software, and fails to cater to my preconceptions. Please change everything."

[holds breath]
 
Could you send me your alpha then since its so useless for you? I'd love to test it more, I'm a GTD n00b who doesn't have a system I am used to yet.

:)

(tongue in cheek, I'll wait for my invite)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiramNetherlands
I would probably qualify as a smart guy, too, and OmniFocus is the very first app of its kind that I could actually use to improve my productivity the very first time I launched it.

Maybe you simply don't like the app's 'face'. I had the same experience with iGTD. Tried hard to like it, but couldn't, because I find it ugly and unwieldy. To each his own.
I agree here. OF is the first GTD app I've been happy with, and I also couldn't cope with the iGTD interface though as an app I think it's fantastic work, just not for me. Maybe it's my ADD....

I also concur completely with Amber, who I might add always has insightful and helpful things to say. Of course I'm biased because I pretty much always agree with her, so that makes me insightful by association (IBA). On her point 4 though, I did find a bug. If you set filter to Available and select a project in the left pane, then hit return, nothing appears at all (in the current build at least) though a blank task is created (which you can see by changing the filter to all). This in NOT the behavior when set to Next thankfully. I'm assuming (hopefully) that the Next behavior is correct and the Available is a bug. I reported the inconsistencies (and my hopes for correct behavior) through the feedback and include the info here merely for reference (and to make people run off and check - like I'm the puppet master or something).

However - Amber - if you hit clean up shouldn't the only things cleaned up from your inbox be READY for clean up by definition? I'm missing something I assume. Of course, you can always force a redraw of those projects by flipping to another project and back again, avoiding the clean up button altogether.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gofast
However - Amber - if you hit clean up shouldn't the only things cleaned up from your inbox be READY for clean up by definition? I'm missing something I assume. Of course, you can always force a redraw of those projects by flipping to another project and back again, avoiding the clean up button altogether.
No. Here's my scenario: I process my Mail with MailTags, creating tasks in iCal with calendar / context assigned. I then sync with OF. This puts everything into the inbox with context but no project. When I clean up accidentally, this makes everything dissapear into the contexts.

This has happened to me, and I had to fish through all of the contexts for tasks without a project. Might be solved when we have an automatic home for singleactions.

But I still believe the two actions require separate UI.
 
Aha. Good point. I was syncing with ical too, but don't like the fact that you can't selectively sync - frankly I was using it simply to get stuff from Mail.app into OF.

However, with the script here I can use Mail Act-on to process mail directly from mail.app to OF, where it happily sits with no project or context waiting for processing.
 
 


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