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Example project attached - why is this so unmanageable on the iPad? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
It's taken a while, but OmniFocus has become essential to my life. The Mac version lets me (encourages me, even) to break my projects down into do-able chunks. A typical small-scale promo film for me looks like this (I've simplified it a little, but apologies for the size of this image):



Nesting actions is essential, and contexts keep things manageable. Being able to have action-groups run sequentially or parallel regardless of its parent's mode is part of what makes OmniFocus work so well.

This relatively simple project took me about 15 minutes to rattle out, a couple of weeks ago. It would take ages to create on the iPad though, because the UI is all based around dialog boxes rather than just letting me type the damn stuff in. And why in God's name do I have to use a dialog box to move items?

A fellow OF user said it's because my projects are too complicated, but he can't be right, can he? The Mac version encourages meaningfully structured projects, while the iPad version seems to be more about shopping lists or flat to-do lists.

I can understand why the iPhone version is so tunnel-visiony (although a more outliner-like view would certainly be possible - my project above is impossible to review on the iPhone). The iPad version feels like I'm trying to walk through molasses. Everything is done in dialog boxes, dialog boxes, dialog boxes. Look at Numbers on the iPad - Apple could have popped up dialog boxes to let you add rows and columns, but instead they let you just drag them into existence with your finger. That's what the iPad's supposed to be about!

I'm really torn. I love Omni - and the remarkably bright and generous users on this forum - but I wonder why I have all these deep-set usability issues with their mobile apps when everyone else seems to be buzzing along fine.

Help!

(Oh yeah, the film outlined above is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSfLKpPSYTc&hd=1 . I honestly couldn't do projects like this on my own if it weren't for OmniFocus, but half my life is spent away from the Mac...

Last edited by howiem; 2010-07-31 at 09:21 AM..
 
This is an interesting problem. My projects aren't half as complicated, but I agree with the topic starter that entering items, in a structured way, takes quite long on the iPad, and I hope this will become easier and faster over time. Perhaps a modified keyboard layout, with some extra keys, for indenting and outdenting, and so on, would help. And drag and drop everywhere.
 
Drag and drop anywhere = Yes.

Dialog Boxes everywhere = No. This is NOT reinvention of OmniFocus for the iPad.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiramvdG View Post
This is an interesting problem. My projects aren't half as complicated, but I agree with the topic starter that entering items, in a structured way, takes quite long on the iPad, and I hope this will become easier and faster over time. Perhaps a modified keyboard layout, with some extra keys, for indenting and outdenting, and so on, would help. And drag and drop everywhere.
Wao!!! Modified keyboard!!! Never thought of that.

I have seen it in other iPhone/iPad apps such as wolfram alpha and it works great.

I believe having a modified keyboard for omnifocus with regular options available would help a lot.

Based on what I have seen in other apps, I think this is a great idea.

Edward
 
This is going to be a huge issue for the iPad version of OmniOutliner. The 1.1 release of OF iPad would be a good place to try out a drag and drop approach to task organization. This is basic functionality in the outliner programs I have on my iPad (though indenting/outdenting is done via a button at the top of the screen; I suspect drag and drop indentation wouldn't work well on iDevices).
 
Yeah - that's the thorny issue: it's not possible to select actions in the GUI as a tap instantly brings up the inspector. Therefore we're left with the following options:

- find a way to put indent/outdenting buttons on the actions themselves
- put the indent/outdent stuff in the inspector (which is where it currently is, as part of the clumsy Move mechanism)
- create a separate mode for indenting, similar to the way you can tap-and-hold an action to go into a sort of 'Move' mode
- use some sort of gesture, a swipe or similar to handle indenting.

My vote is for the last option, see my RFC post for more.

Last edited by howiem; 2010-07-31 at 05:57 PM..
 
I think it would be great if the wireless keyboard was supported such that [tab] switches between fields in input dialogs, and [cmd]-} and [cmd]-{ can be used to indent and outdent in the project list (like in OmniFocus and OmniOutliner for Mac).

I will go and send feedback to that effect; if enough other people do the same, maybe Omni Group will consider adding support for it.

JDW

Last edited by jonwhite; 2010-08-01 at 03:56 AM.. Reason: Changed “they” to “Omni Group” – seemed a bit rude.
 
I agree that one of the issues of the iPad version is quick entry. I talked about it in other threads, but the basic idea is that it should be VERY VERY VERY easy and intuitive (and quick) to enter in tasks on a project.

Right now, it is not.

BZ
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardro View Post
Wao!!! Modified keyboard!!! Never thought of that.

I have seen it in other iPhone/iPad apps such as wolfram alpha and it works great.

I believe having a modified keyboard for omnifocus with regular options available would help a lot.

Based on what I have seen in other apps, I think this is a great idea.

Edward
Modified keyboard! Brilliant. Would be perfect.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by howiem View Post
This relatively simple project took me about 15 minutes to rattle out, a couple of weeks ago. It would take ages to create on the iPad though, because the UI is all based around dialog boxes rather than just letting me type the damn stuff in.
I was curious about how this would really stack up for someone who wasn't just getting acquainted with the program, so I tried the experiment. It took me about 12 minutes to enter the actions and contexts on my iPad, and another 8 or so to get the outline set up. However, it was not an ideal situation for me because I was doing this via quick entry into the inbox, and I already had 195 other items in my inbox, which had to be scrolled past every time I used the Move button (essentially once per row!) Because I felt that made the iPad look unnecessarily bad, I flattened out the project again, moved it all back to the inbox, and moved all the other stuff out of the inbox. A second attempt at doing the outline took 5 minutes without all the tedious scrolling over those unrelated actions. Somewhat better, about 17 minutes, still not ideal.

Fact of the matter, though, is I'm not going to type stuff like this in on my iPad except in an emergency. The 12 minutes it took to enter the actions and contexts was dominated by the speed (or lack thereof) of typing on the iPad. Typing it in again, on the Mac, without contexts (I usually enter them separately on the Mac because I find that is usually faster for me), it took a whopping 2 minutes to enter the text, and about 5 1/2 minutes to do the contexts and organizing. Using Simplenote as a proxy for how fast I might be able to simply type in action names if OmniFocus for iPad allowed similar entry to the Mac version, it took me almost 4 1/2 minutes (vs 2) to do the text entry on the iPad. I really slow down with text containing apostrophes or dashes, words for which the iPad helpfully wants to change the spelling, and if I'm not typing from my thoughts, I have to be very careful not to let my hands brush the screen surface when I look elsewhere at the source document or I end up with some random garbage inserted which then requires deletion. Yeah, a Bluetooth keyboard would probably help a lot with the first and third issues, but it isn't the sort of thing I would carry everywhere, and if I did expect to have to do a lot of typing, I could probably just bring the Macbook.

No, I'm not going to do it all again on the iPhone for the sake of comparison! :)
 
 


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