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OmniFocus Alpha vs Various GTD Apps Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Some personal thoughts about OmniFocus and the competition.

After reading the book and beginning a search for a GTD app I settled on TR (Thinking Rock). It seemed to follow the paradigm of David Allen's philosophy closely. However I soon observed that TR's promised development cycle kept slipping so I looked at other GTD apps.

Actiontastic seemed a possibility but its development is also slow and the last posting on their web site was mid-March this year. It seems to be the project of a single developer.

The Mac community benefits from a lot of software that is the brain child of a single developer. While its often less expensive when I need software for business I'd prefer to buy from a reliable software house that has the resources to continue development and support its products.

There are good apps from single developers like Eagle Filer, Mori, TR, etc. and I'm sure people here can name a lot more BUT many suffer from the lack of resources or lack of attention or a slow development cycle.

iGTD seems to be the exception! Initally I had difficulty with iGTD's interface and had two trials before I understood how to use it and appreciate it's power. One of its killer features is the ability to press F6 and paste an email automatically creating a "new task" with the email's contents in a text box.

Now to OmniFocus, I have had the good luck to be an early Alpha Tester.

During the first couple of hours I found the "paradigm of OmniFocus" difficult to grasp. Now that I have used it OF seems more like a Project Manager with the extra benefit of contexts (Meta Tags) *than* a "true GTD app". I've no prior experience using KGTD so I had no expectation.

I don't see iGTD and OmniFocus as competitors - my personal opinion. Having said that my hope is that the Omni Group will find a way to produce some method of entering single tasks and then assigning them a context with them having to be part of a project. And I would prefer to see "View" named "Projects" and "Mode" named "Contexts".

I'm looking forward to seeing OmniFocus's report functions and hope it will print a variety of useful reports in both A4 and A5 format as well as US paper sizes. This would be very useful to Europeans and save time instead of saving reports to .PDF files and using Adobe Reader 8's Page scaling function.

It's early days but I expect to run both iGTD and OmniFocus in parallel until OmniFocus is released. My hope is the developers of OmniFocus will speed up getting to the Beta phase with all the features enabled so that we can really experience the full power of this application.


PS: In the longer term I expect I will switch to OmniFocus as much of my work is related to projects but I wished to be objective in my own observations.
Bill, one quick note. You wrote:

> And I would prefer to see "View" named "Projects" and "Mode" named "Contexts".

We do use "Projects" and "Contexts." I think the toolbar label is misleading you - the "View Mode" text is a single label for the control right above it, which allows you to switch between "projects view mode" and "contexts view mode."

Hover over the switcher control to see the appropriate help tag, or look in the View menu - the first two items are "Projects" and "Contexts", and they just select which of these two views is selected.
I have been using kGTD for half a year now, and am therefore keen to see OF asap, because of the possibility of importing my 50+ projects.

I received the sneaky peek yesterday.
In the meantime I have looked at ThinkingRock and iGTD.

TR2 I find to be the most feature-rich but also the least user-friendly.

iGTD is - for the moment - a bit behind on features and somewhat more buggy than TR, but it is moving very fast.

Compared with the 2 above, I find OF's UI better designed - although I wouldn't have minded if it were less like kGTD.

It is however still very limited on features, compared with iGTD and TR, and some basic stuff is missing.

In the coming weeks, I'll start using it alongside kGTD to see how it performs...
I've been REALLY trying to use OmniFocus, because I feel like I should love it as I love the other Omni apps. However, it just isn't cutting it for me. For me a GTD app should be lean and mean, allowing me to see things quickly and efficiently, and primarily keep my hands on the keyboard. I'm just not getting that from OmniFocus. I've tried to replicate my iGTD setup where I have a bunch of different filters in terms of what's due, what's coming up on the horizon, etc. and it just seems to take a tremendous amount of work to get there.

For example, I can't seem to find a way to set a perspective that shows me everything due in the next two days. That seems straightforward, but I can't seem to get it done in OmniFocus.

I'm confident that Omnifocus will get there, but at the moment it seems to cumbersome and non-intuitive, essentially trying to be all things to all people rather than focus on the GTD implementation.
Originally Posted by reuben View Post
For example, I can't seem to find a way to set a perspective that shows me everything due in the next two days. That seems straightforward, but I can't seem to get it done in OmniFocus.
Assuming you have due dates on all the actions you want to see, try this:

1. In context view, set the grouping to "Due". It will show you "today", "tomorrow", "within the next week", etc. It will also show past due items.

-- If you set the sorting to "Due" as well, the actions in the "within the next week" section and other similar sections will be in date order also.

-- You can also choose whether to look at just "next" actions, all "available" actions, or all "remaining" actions.

-- I use "due", "due", "available", "any", and "all".

2. Once you have what you want, save the perspective.

NOTE: Make sure you have selected the word "Contexts" at the top of the sidebar if you want everything. Otherwise you will get just the actions in the context(s) which you have selected.

Last edited by dhm2006; 2007-10-12 at 03:31 PM..
Yeah, I've done that, but that seems at odds with the idea of "focus." I don't want to see what's due within the week, month, etc. I want to focus specifically on what's due today and save a perspective that shows only that. After all, isn't that the idea, being able to drill down to the granular level, or back out to the highest level in an easy manner?
One thing I'm discovering is that a proper set of perspectives is necessary to use OmniFocus properly. But the number of settings is so confusing you really need to get to a high level of understanding of the program before you can make your own perspectives and be confident in what they do.

A default set, in the toolbar, would be nice, rather than forcing people to roll their own.
Originally Posted by reuben View Post
Yeah, I've done that, but that seems at odds with the idea of "focus." I don't want to see what's due within the week, month, etc. I want to focus specifically on what's due today and save a perspective that shows only that. After all, isn't that the idea, being able to drill down to the granular level, or back out to the highest level in an easy manner?
I agree. If OF can have a date filter, then you can filter the view according to that and save it as a perspective view. For instance, filter by due<=today, and then recall the perspective anytime you want to see anything that's overdue and due today.
Speaking of "alternatives" and "the competition", let me point out TaskPaper. For the likes of myself, this is much more of a competition to OF. I never have been able to embrace iGTD, which too closely resembles a Japanese video game for my liking: gazillions of buttons and fields, control over everything, but an embarras de richesse, and no guiding principle.

IMHO, OF has a guiding principle: sequential projects, world-class filtering (I will, for the instant, cease and desist to bicker about my ceterum censeo, the "all actions" filter in context view) and other features that let you _reduce "next action" clutter_. This is OF's raison d'Ítre (according to this user), and it is very GTD. I actually do not have parallel projects any more, even if I might perform the actions in parallel -- if I can, I use sequence to prioritise and just enjoy the super-short lists that this entails. I also love that if you check something off, something else from the same project takes its place.

TaskPaper also has also something special: that it is just a parser for text files. As somebody who also appreciates LaTeX and the possibility of general cross-platform data exchange that text files give you, I can see the beauty of this concept. There are excellent tools for working with text, such as TextMate and Nisus (the word processor whose native format used to be text, and which still has the most intuitive implementation of regex on the planet), that let you mangle it into something else almost without looking. Text files are well nigh cross-platform -- completely so if you use utf8 encoding. In TaskPaper, every paragraph in a text file (such as an email) can be turned into a task by prefixing it with a dash, and be given a context merely by typing @context into the para. The format naturally integrates with MarkDown and, as such, can be translated into everything: rtf, latex, html, xml. Heck -- my LaTeX article can _be_ my todo list!

But TaskPaper does not scale very well. My LaTeX article may well be my todo list _for the project concerned_, but OF easily has the upper hand if it comes to handling my commitments to several projects at once. I love both pieces of software as they have a soul (metaphorically speaking), which the vast majority of titles has not, and am exploring ways of combining them.

One more article to finish, and then I'll delve into applescripting OF. I hope there's a way to export projects to, and import projects from, text files.


Last edited by Beckes; 2007-10-13 at 11:54 PM.. Reason: Typo!
Occasionally, I get the urge to try a few other applications including iGTD or Midnight Inbox, but I seem to come back to OF. I don't know whether it's a clean interface or dedicated folks at Omni, but that seems to be the case.

The announced version 2 of Inbox seems interesting, and I assume OF will eventually move out of alpha into beta. I guess more choices are good for the users, but I'm getting to a point where I need to pick one system and stick to it! I guess playing with new programs are fun, but you got to get your work done, and whichever program helps me to get my work done will win out at the end.

For now, it looks like OF gets the nod.

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