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A book for OmniFocus, or similar Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I was wondering if Omni, or some other knowledgeable person, has any plans on creating an In Depth guide to OF? Printed, PDF or whatever. I've seen the Screencasts and while very good, don't have nearly the depth and breadth raised and discussed on the Forums.

I've read the PDF for OF from Omni but I feel that it's just the start and every time I read the Forums I get this nagging feeling that I could get so much more out of this (already) excellent application, but I just know what that is or why or how it would benefit me!

I've done a search on the web but nothing shows up that looks likely to me.
We've got plans for at least one more piece of OmniFocus support material, though it's not quite ready to release yet. We'd also like to do some more screencasts. No plans for a book as far as I know.

Don't despair, though - we brought someone on board recently with the intent to have him oversee training materials, sales support, stuff like that. I don't know exactly what projects we're going to throw him at in what order once he's settled in, but we'd have to be dumb to not have OmniFocus be one of them. :-)
Thanks for the prompt update and that's good to know Brian.

It's just that your programmers have put so much into OF, that I'd like to be able to get the most of of it.

I'm waiting on that cryptically intriguing pice of "support material" :-)
Originally Posted by KiltedGreen View Post
I was wondering if Omni, or some other knowledgeable person, has any plans on creating an In Depth guide to OF?
Specifically to address this, I made a request for an official OmniFocus user-driven Wiki. I think whatever the 'new support material' will be, a collaborative tool like a wiki, enabling us to use the experience of many OF users, would be most welcomed.

If you think that's a good idea, do a feature request about this you too :-)
Originally Posted by Satri View Post
Specifically to address this, I made a request for an official OmniFocus user-driven Wiki. I think whatever the 'new support material' will be, a collaborative tool like a wiki, enabling us to use the experience of many OF users, would be most welcomed.

If you think that's a good idea, do a feature request about this you too :-)
I second this idea of creating a wiki. I have always thought that what OF has always needed is a user-developed manual.

It would cover

1) operation from a strategic perspective to supplement OmniGroup's "how-to" mechanics "documentation" and

2) to capture the myriad ways that people actually implement GTD.

A wiki has the potential

1) to build on the Forum by retaining its strengths - its organic, interactive aspect - and

2) to complement and multiply its effectiveness by enabling the points raised in the Forum to be
a) organized more systematically,
b) made more easily accessible and
c) logically extensible.

The current state of affairs is, I'd suggest, unsustainable.

Omnigroup has for years foisted on its OF users the burden of teaching each other how to get maximum value from OF.

Who besides the arbiteratti, who besides the GTD police -- the people who seem to have so much time on their hands -- can really get the full benefit of the Forum's deep knowledge?

The Forum itself is a dysfunctional resource, simply because it more frequently than not does what all online forums tend to do:

It meanders.

While one can occasionally glean a useful point or two or three, who can possibly learn efficiently from the Forum and on a just-when-needed basis?

Most of us haven't the time, the inclination or the patience for the kind of textual exegesis required to obtain maximum value from the knowledge and ideas that reside in or are immanent within the Forum.

It's one thing for OG to foist this learning burden on its users. After all, this is a common practice and is almost the norm among software publishers.

But it adds insult to injury to fail to provide the customers the right tool (ie., a moderated wiki) to allow the Forum's information to be systematized.

OG will never know just how much customer goodwill it has wasted, and customer churn it has begotten, by failing to provide the right learning tool for users (ie., a wiki).

Ironically, OG has committed several years late to finally hiring a documentation specialist, at a cost that could have hired another software engineer I suspect. One wonders if they could have avoided this and grown their OF customer base faster if they had provided a wiki.

If OmniGroup is going to make its users do so much work for themselves and, by extension, for OG, then it might as well get good at it, and more effectively leverage its customer base as a complementary resource by providing customers the tools they need.

Heck, it's the least they can do for themselves (and for us!). We'll all benefit and it would not take much to get it up and running.

ARE YOU LISTING DOCTOR CASE, Sir? Hey, who knows where this "features" submittal email thingie is.
I think OmniGroup do a "professional job" with regard to support material compared to other software houses. Basically I'm here and use OmniFocus and their other software because the Support Material exists in all its forms.

Compared with other GTD software producers OmniGroup listen and are also directly involved with the client base and progress is steady and reliable.

I have recently given up on two software vendors because I simply don't have the time to search for support document in their forums & help files, user guides, and videos simply don't exist. I'm grateful for OG's support.

You can also get more from OmniFocus by also reviewing and re-reading David Allen's books, Getting Things Done and Making It All Work.

Every once in a while, I like to open the books and review it. I'll often catch something that I didn't get before. It's like reading a Shakespearean play. You'll find something new when you're reading it again after a few months of digestion.

At this moment, I'm reviewing Making It All Work and slowly working my way up the different levels of elevation. I knew I was comfortable with the runway level (next actions) and the 10,000 feet level (projects). A couple months ago, I just started to get comfortable at 20,000 feet (Areas of Focus & Responsibility). Maybe in a couple more months into the future, I'll get comfortable with the next level at 30,000 feet (Goals and Objectives).

As I get more comfortable with the next level of elevation, I start tweaking my OmniFocus workflow to fit my newfound revelations.

OmniFocus will be futile unless you learn to master the fundamentals.

Another book that actually catapulted me higher is the Zen-To-Done handbook found at

This alternative approach to GTD actually helped me tenfold and improved my grasp on GTD. I worked my way through the 10 habits outlined in ZTD and feel great about mastering the concepts.

Every time I re-read GTD, Making It All Work, and ZTD, I actually start seeing things differently. Then I tweak my OmniFocus setup.

So, while getting an OmniFocus manual is great, sometimes it makes sense to return back to the basics. :-D

Last edited by wilsonng; 2009-10-01 at 03:56 AM..
Originally Posted by wilsonng View Post
You can also get more from OmniFocus by also reviewing and re-reading David Allen's books, Getting Things Done and Making It All Work.
That's not the issue here. I've read David Allen's book 4 or 5 times and I'd agree with you. What I want to know is how can I best use OF to support best GTD practice and the problem I have is that the official documentation is incredibly sketchy compared to the depth of information found within the forum posts as others above have noticed.

I agree that a Wiki or some kind of structured documentation would help a lot. There are a LOT of pages on these forums and you'd have to determined and/or sad to read them all to extract all the goodness.
Hey - I just noticed some new documentation from Omni on the main OmniFocus product page. Thanks Omni people - must go and read now ....
Kilted Green, thanks for the heads up. I too will study this new doc. I'd best do so before too much further comment on this thread. But there are some points that seem clear.

I do want to second your point that WilsonNg's comment's about going back to the source, while helpful a supplement, nonetheless beg the question of how to implement GTD in OF.

I sense, the fact that it has taken them these many years to issue something, belies just how varied the interpretations are of how to implement GTD. OG, for good business reasons, has not wanted to get itself into a partisan debate about best practices.

The obvious solution is, let the customers lead the discussion and decide for themselves.

Only just let it be a structured and systematic discussion, as can be developed in a moderated Wiki, rather than the stew of facts, opinions and confusing idea fragments that rest side-by-side within the OF forum in a veritable state-of-nature, a state that puts the GTD ideal of clear organization to shame.

Doubtless others will disagree. I suspect they are those people for whom "all questions are already answered" or "self-evident". If I had a nickel for every posting on the OF forum that suggests that the answer lies in going back to the Allen Bible, I'd be rich. [I]God bless them for their certainty.

Would that it were so easy for me. Currently, I am trying to jail-break about twelve hundred (1,200) action items in OF. I've found it easy to get things into OF.

My challenge has become how to work with them, to actually accomplish the most important things. It's very rough going. {I'm sure someone reading this is already poised to comment, and to say that I've got it all wrong; how could I have possibly done such a thing, "haven't you read David Allen"}

There is nothing wrong with the apostolic tradition. I don't wish to argue as to whether, how and to what degree it is important to be grounded in DA's ideas and concepts about GTD. It simply begs the question of what to do. Even the most casual and superficial perusal of the web will demonstrate that there are more interpretations of just how to implement GTD than there are peaches in Georgia.

I don't know of any other software products where some members of the user community appear to require new users to adhere to a creed, in order for those new users to be allowed to express an opinion or pose a question without risking criticism.

Regarding moderation of a wiki, there several important points.

First a moderator need not be an arbiter. They need not take positions.

Second, they can merely point out where divergent viewpoints expressed by users exist.

Third, they can encourage users to clarify and elaborate user-documented ideas, practices, routines, tricks, shortcuts, workarounds, habits, frustrations, preferences, aspirations, etc.

Fourth, they can bring structure and order to the wellspring of knowledge and opinion (now weakly organized by topical thread in the OF Forum), so that --
A) the (hopefully) growing community of readers/users can (and here's the important part:) quickly! and efficiently! discern the varied approaches espoused in the wiki;

B) form their own opinion as the benefits, liabilities of these varied approaches to using OF for GTD; and

C) the tradeoffs among and between these approaches; and then choose a path for themselves.

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