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Just a heads up - we've got an item open in the development database that covers the need to address the sidebar/content outline focus issue.

I don't see one for a bigger expansion click target, so I'll make one for that.

Thanks, all!
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
Schlaefer, thanks for the nice screen mock-ups! I agree that it can sometimes be hard to tell if the sidebar or main content area has focus. It's an issue that exists in many OS X apps but is particularly noticeable in OmniFocus because of its outlining capabilities with lots of collapsible nodes in both the sidebar and the content area.

I wonder if the "Collapse All" and "Expand All" options weren't available, would this issue have even come up? The only other app I can think of with similar capabilities is Apple Mail with its "Expand All Threads" and "Collapse All Threads" options. But those clearly only apply to items in the app's content area, so it doesn't matter where focus is. Consequently, it avoids the issue altogether.
The only app there I have such dynamic sidebar like in OmniFocus is my notekeeping app (Mori) and to be fair: the nested tree view sucks there too.

The main reason why OmniFocus stands out is that I try to navigate fast not only in the content view but in the sidebar with the keyboard. In other sidebar apps like Mail, iTunes etc. you make a selection in the sidebar and then work in the main view for some time.

When I look at the problem from a little higher level and I know this is totaly geek, but I would literaly pay for a quick navigate panel for projects. If you know TextMate for example: it has handy quick navigate panels for files (cmd+t) or symbols (cmd+shift+t). The whole sidebar/focus/navigation problem would be gone for me.

Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
But doesn't OmniFocus already do this? When I have something selected in both the sidebar and the main content area, and then toggle focus back and forth between the two areas using Command-4, I can see the active region has blue highlighting while the inactive region's highlighting turns gray. Isn't this what you're talking about?

Maybe the highlight color set via System Preferences -> Appearance also makes a difference. If you use the silver or graphite options, visibility may be reduced. I have mine set to the default blue.

So it seems like the only thing that might be done here is to increase the contrast of the current selection to increase its prominence. What do you think?
Maybe it's my cheap monitor but this is to subtile for my taste. A real inverted badge (white text on dark ground) would imho be much better (and more consistent to the rest of the system).

Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
This is actually something that was discussed on this forum last December (see posts near the end of this thread). OmniFocus has a hidden preference to leave the main content area empty when there's no sidebar selection:

defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniFocus LeaveEmptySelectionEmpty -bool YES
I vastly prefer this behavior over the OmniFocus' default behavior of showing everything when there's no sidebar selection. Not only does it help you determine if the sidebar or main content area has focus, but it's also lightning fast when switching between planning and context modes with no selection (presumably because nothing needs to be rendered in the main content area). I think this behavior is also more consistent with other OS X apps (e.g. Apple Mail, Yojimbo, etc.).
Oh, thank you. I bought OmniFocus in the beta but didn't start actually using it as my main tool til four weeks ago. I wasn't aware and definitely will try it.

Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
That possibility did occur to me, but can't think of any other app that does that. And I wonder if it would be too garish. But it's certainly something to consider.
Yeah, wouldn't be surprised if it looks awkward. Needs more time in @think_about. ;)

Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
That's a really good point. But, at least in my case, it only holds true for the sidebar, where I do more toggling than renaming. But in the main content area, I think I'm more likely to do renaming.
A little bit related to that: the fear to change something without noticing it makes me always feel a little bit uncomfortable to see the cursor blink when I click on an item without intention to change that particular field.
But for the sake of speed is probably to the best solution. Just out of curiosity I would like to test a OF version where I have to double click an field to go in editing mode.
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
Alas, some actions ("try to take over the world") are worthy but not currently feasible. I'd like a place to put such actions, so they are off my mind but still, somehow, on my plate. Thinking Rock lets me move such actions into simple lists of "future items" and "information items"; OmniFocus doesn't. I tried creating an "Unfeasible" project; but its actions showed up inappropriately among do-able actions. My workaround is to mark the "Unfeasible" project as being "On Hold".
I don't see the "On Hold" state as a "workaround", but rather as a more elegant solution for marking items as someday/maybe. It's far more flexible than some kind of static container where you dump future or unfeasible projects.
My "Someday/Maybe" list is a SAL and, while each action is itself a project, they are in the list simply actions, not sub-projects. Why make them projects now? Right now, they are just stuff to consider that I might someday, maybe do. If and when I do decide to take that around the world cruise or put in hardwood floors or remodel my kitchen, then I'll move them out of this list and make them active projects. Right now, they're not really projects b/c I can't DO anything in them to bring about their desired outcome. What I do to keep them out of any perspectives is to not give them any context and set their Start Date way out in the future, like "Dec 31, 4712".

Last edited by jonwalthour; 2008-05-04 at 05:03 AM..
Originally Posted by jonwalthour View Post
My "Someday/Maybe" list is a SAL and, while each action is itself a project, they are in the list simply actions, not sub-projects. Why make them projects now? Right now, they are just stuff to consider that I might someday, maybe do.
Actually, I do the same thing. But as those ideas on my someday/maybe SAL mature, and I become convinced that I'm actually going to do something about them (although, not now), I often promote them to full projects with some degree of planning inside. But like my someday/maybe SAL, I still keep the projects on hold, since I'm not ready to act on them.

One nice thing about this approach is that I can set independent review intervals for the projects (rather than for the whole SAL). Also, it's a little easier to plan my actions in the form of a project than on the SAL. But I agree, there's probably not much point in going that far unless you're pretty sure you're going to act on it at some time in the not-too-distant future.

My main point, though, is that I really like being able to leave items (whether they be SALs or projects) in their natural setting (i.e. in their folders, in the order I desire, nicely tucked in wherever it is that they belong) and still mark them as "someday/maybe" by putting them on hold.

Having to drag them into some other, separate container to indicate "someday/maybe", as Matt Neuburg suggested, just feels wrong and inefficient to me. You lose all sense of context (lowercase c) on the item.
I agree.

I actullay have more of a Someday/Maybe system:
(i) I use a On-Hold Single Action List list for general undeveloped Someday/Maybes
(ii) I have several On-Hold Single Action Lists for things like books, music, movies, and gifts that I may someday get around to
(iii) I have several more-developed projects that have place ON-Hold as a Someday/Maybe item

And I agree that for those projects that have already been developed, it is nice to keep their structure in tact.

Then you can place all of the above On-Hold Someday/Maybe items into a folder, to keep it all wrapped up ion a nice neat package.
There’s an excellent, thought-provoking review of OmniFocus by Matt Neuburg in the current TidBits (#928, 12 May, Highly recommended. He’s a fan, loves much about OF, but discusses in depth a whole swathe of interface issues which will strike a chord with many users. And - vindication of a sort for some of us - he laments the lack of a calendar view, thus adding his support to those of us who have been arguing for some kind of timeline view. Matt’s a respected voice in the Mac community, so here’s hoping the Omni folks go through the piece with a toothcomb, as - IMHO - he reflects just the ambiguity, the mix of enthusiasm and frustration, that many of us feel.

There's a ginormous thread about this already, with lots of comments from Omni staff:


Whoa - apologies! I didn’t go back far enough in the list before posting. Good to see the response, though.
threads merged.
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
One thing that might make OmniFocus make a bit more sense with respect to repeating actions:
Select View -> Columns -> Start Date (and/or Due Date)
that'll add the respective columns to the content outline. Now when you complete an action, you'll see the next one appear, but at least the dates will be different.

We were worried about folks finding the app too visually confusing when they first started it up. I think we may have overcompensated for that, though, and are hiding some things that would actually be useful.
I had a lengthy exchange with one of the support ninjas recently about this and I’m glad Matt picked up on it. The handling of repeating actions is truly one of the oddest things about OF’s interface, IMO, and seems to be the product of a straight conflict between concept and the real world.

The problem can be seen most clearly by comparing the way these actions are managed in Context and Planning modes. If you have a list of several actions which repeat every day, for example, and check these off in Context mode they do exactly what you would expect: they disappear from the Due Today list and magically open up in the Due Tomorrow list. But in Project mode, if you sort by Remaining, they simply reappear further down the Today list, even though they are for Tomorrow! This is incredibly confusing and looks just crazy. It is really no answer to suggest, as Brian does here and as the ninja did to me, that if you have the date column open you can see that while the task appears in Today’s list it is really for Tomorrow. This is hardly a solution to visual confusion, and Brian’s use of “at least” here seems to indicate that he’s aware of the incongruity. Nor is sorting only by Available or Next Action the answer, as you may need to see what is Remaining.

The explanation I was given - and this is what I mean by concept getting in the way of visual reality - is that OF sorts by projects, and not tasks, and looks for the earliest date and uses that value. I never really understood this, but what it seems to mean is that for OF the task exists in the here and now even if it’s actually due in the future, so is included in Today’s list but with Tomorrow’s date. Given the way all this works in Planning View (which, incidentally, was once called Projects view, to mention another of Matt’s points) the possibility of flipping into a Tomorrow list, as in Context mode, is apparently not feasible.

There are doubtless good conceptual reasons behind this, even if they are hard for a non-tech user to grasp, but the bottom line is that you get Tomorrow’s tasks appearing as for Today, which is very weird indeed. I was told that while such results “look strange” they are “actually correct”. Which is not much comfort when you’re trying to get your stuff in order but are faced with something which flies so bafflingly in the face of just that.

Last edited by mcoad; 2008-05-13 at 11:55 AM..

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