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On the state of task management apps Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Interesting reactions!
In the past few weeks I have been exploring the state of ToDo managers some more and I feel I have something to share about that.
Part of what I do is personal efficiency consulting. I go to peoples workplace and help them work more efficiently. This can take various forms, but in terms of ICT it involves helping them to better manage loads of email and tasks, usually under Windows with Outlook. Now Outlook has a reasonable Task functionality that can be tweaked to work effectively for most. But recently I helped a client who had an all too familiar problem. She had to plan and manage various projects that would run for several months and loosely involved other people at different moments in time. There were interdependencies and various deadlines, but there was no formal projectteam or structure. Try planning and managing that kind of work in Outlook 2010, where Microsoft has removed the (very rudimentary) timeline view that was available in OL 2003. She ended up doing all the planning on paper…. A full scale project management app would be a huge overkill for her, so I started looking for something between a ToDo app and project management software that would give her a good timeline view and visual insight in critical deadlines and future peaks in workload. That proved difficult, I only found an app called Pagico. It is cross-platform and offers the timeline view I was looking for. It also implements an interesting feature called a project space where you can create various task lists and drag in relevant emails and documents, a bit like Curio’s idea spaces but without the visual bells and whistles. Unfortunately data entry could be more efficient and is a bit confusing for beginners. So it could use some fine-tuning. And then there is the 50 euro price tag.
Suggestions for other apps would be welcome.
Then, on an unrelated search, I stumbled upon a very inexpensive OS X/iOS-only app called Notesuite that combines note taking functionalities with ToDo management. While not suitable for my clients, it showed something important: the ToDo part is not the result of an afterthought but has some quite decent functionalities. Think subtasks, assign-to, tags, contacts, note import, basic email import. For just 5 bucks…..
The point here is that as the market for OS X ToDo apps is oversaturated, differentiation becomes more and more difficult and consequently prices will go down. So some developers started thinking of creative new ways to make their products stand out. I wonder what that will mean for OF development.
 
The beta was a big step backwards: just a new GUI (who cares!?)

Ha. Is this a joke? Complaints about the old GUI has got to be either the number 1 or number 2 topics brought up about OF 1. Who cares? A LOT of people.
 
This is not a joke. I've got all three versions and use them for different purposes. As I said, I've got 1200 actions in there. UI is crucial with those amounts, but colours and yet another dialog redesign isn't. 99% of todo lists can handle no more than 100 actions properly before becoming slow, unwieldy or simply unusable. OF handles 1200 fine as it is.

BUT: Being able to slice&dice your actions is essential and without more slicing and dicing facilities OF is going to kill my productivity while trying to help me. THAT's the realy problem (for me and many others).

Nick
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NickHibma View Post

BUT: Being able to slice&dice your actions is essential and without more slicing and dicing facilities OF is going to kill my productivity while trying to help me. THAT's the realy problem (for me and many others).

Nick
I thought perspectives is how we can slice and dice our 1200 tasks into manageable pieces? I have a perspective focused only on work projects or only on home projects. Then I have project perspectives focused only on a certain subset of projects. I also have a perspective just for errands or based on location (hardware store, grocery store, library, etc.).
 
Sure wilsonng, I've got all that and more, and that is still not enough. For work I've got 5 customers with each 3 or more subprojects for work, and for my private folder I've got 8 roles with each 5+ projects. I would like have an additional level to figure out the stuff I need to do this week, on wednesday, etc. That's were multi-coloured flags come in (green for monday, red for tuesday, blue for weekends, brown for evenings; yellow for unimportant stuff I would like to do anyway this week; each colour representing some ad hoc grouping or block of time).

On monday I sit down and review everything, and would like to assign blocks of tasks to a day, tentatively. When a customer calls and all hell breaks loose I can se what was scheduled for that day.

I don't keep anything in my head. I have a creative brain, not one with shelfs and binders. I work out of OF exclusively. Any idea or hunch goes straight into my inbox, and at the end or the start of the day I move all inbox items to were they belong.

That's why I don't care about the colour and shape of a dialog box, but do care deeply about an extra dimension in the database.

For now I've got my solution: A set of simple scripts (*) that allow adding a marker ({1}, etc.) to each action, and provides a perspective to show only those. That in combination with spending two hours understanding all the options in the perspectives options has given me the tool to slice and dice some more. It looks like it works, but just so.

(*) See the other thread I am ranting in on task prioritisation: http://forums.omnigroup.com/showpost...&postcount=343
 
Good call Nick. I'm just hoping for the day when OmniFocus gets something similar to iTunes Smart Playlist. The iTunes Smart playlist screen seems to be easier to figure out rather than trying to use the filter bar to create perspectives. Perspectives is perhaps the most difficult to figure out for beginners. But once you can figure out how to use it, it becomes a powerful tool. But the current perspectives features doesn't have the ability to create more rules to narrow our focus.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
... I'm just hoping for the day when OmniFocus gets something similar to iTunes Smart Playlist. ...
Yes!! Smart filters such as what we have in the Finder (or iTunes if you will) to dice across any and all aspects of our OF database in any boolean way we want, also with multiple tags (formerly known as contexts) on any given task ... Cool!
 
Has nobody taken a look at Toodledo? Is it perfect? Not at all but it is extremely functional and the only rub I have is being able to use it offline. But if they were to implement that, then Omni is in serious trouble in this space.

Omni has horrible roadmap and timeline execution - I understand that they are not a huge company but all companies start small and as Apple learned the very hard way - and something they seemed damned determined to repeat - you've got to get updates out frequently for a variety of reasons. If I have one piece of advice for Omni, it would be two things:

1) Restructure your dev processes to get more updates out - try like once per quarter;

2) Enlist outside of company resources to help on a variety of tasks. Lots of us have really valuable experience beyond just BETA - use us as I bet most would do the work for a free single user license.

Scaling is the hardest thing for any company so get creative re: how to scale to build better mousetraps...#2 above is in that vein...
 
Aleding,

Your post made me laugh out loud. Making it work offline requires a complete redesign of the app and the way data is handled. That is not going to happen. Waiting for everyone to be always online is quicker.

And the problem with growing your company is growing your sales. They have had their peak (they are probably still selling the apps, but at a much slower rate than before) and they are now trying to keep money coming in somehow. The best they can do is make the right choices so new people buy the apps.

The best you can do is provide them with input on your favorite features and fixes, so they can base those choices on real world input.

I do agree that they should restructure their dev and release process, and be less aloof about their products.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NickHibma View Post
Aleding,

Your post made me laugh out loud. Making it work offline requires a complete redesign of the app and the way data is handled. That is not going to happen. Waiting for everyone to be always online is quicker.

And the problem with growing your company is growing your sales. They have had their peak (they are probably still selling the apps, but at a much slower rate than before) and they are now trying to keep money coming in somehow. The best they can do is make the right choices so new people buy the apps.

The best you can do is provide them with input on your favorite features and fixes, so they can base those choices on real world input.

I do agree that they should restructure their dev and release process, and be less aloof about their products.
Which part was funny - my post is 100% accurate...as for growth, I didn't mention that at all - I mentioned scale - quite a bit different than growth. If Omni has already hit their peak WRT to sales, then the game is over if they cannot scale in another creative way - hence my comments...

As for your offline functionality statement, are you referring to Omni or Toodledo? The former already functions offline - the latter does as well at least from a data perspective - the issue is the UI...and the comment about requiring a complete redesign is inaccurate...this isn't a hard issue to solve - it just takes resources...
 
 


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