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Hello All:
I am investigating whether or not OmniFocus is a viable option for use in a multi-lawyer office where there would be four lawyer users and three staff users. We use a server to share client and forms databases so that all have access to client files and common forms. It is highly desirable that anyone can access any database and that any attorney could view the status of work in progress, trial dates, deadlines, and To Do items on any client file. These functions are common goals for a Case management type software system. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or comments as to whether or not OmniFocus is appropriate in a multi-user environment. Thanks.
I think it would be completely unworkable before OmniFocus 1.1 ships, with its support for synchronization between computers. On the other hand, one could probably use OmniFocus 1.0 in a solo trial run to see if the basic tool provides the sort of functionality that you need. If it does, then you know that OF 1.1 is worth waiting for to investigate further; if it doesn't, then it's time to look elsewhere. If it looks like OF 1.0 is a promising lead, then sign up for the 1.1 sneaky peeks and expand your trial run to include another member of the firm to test the multi-user dynamics. I wouldn't trust my professional workflow to the 1.1 sneaky peeks to the exclusion of all else; track your efforts in parallel until it is clear that you understand the system well AND that it is sufficiently reliable. Maybe start out with just a fraction of your caseload that is well defined so that you can "walk before you run" and not have to spend too much effort remembering "oh yeah, the Palmer case, that's one we're tracking in the new system as well."

One wrinkle of using a GTD-like system in a multi-user environment is that you'd probably want some way of indicating that someone has started work on a given task, so that you don't have multiple people looking at the available actions and selecting the same one on which to work! Maybe an entry in the notes field with a time/date stamp (cmd-| will get you one) would do the trick, depending on how quickly the synchronization software propagates the change. Of course, maybe accidental duplication of work isn't an issue and everyone stays out of each other's way, and you just need the system to be able to see what is going on. Might still want to do the notes trick just to see that a given task has been claimed and started, rather than marking something as complete when in fact you're just starting work on it. Or maybe you change the context of a task to "In Progress : Associate LH" when LH starts work on it; presumably the real context is no longer relevant at that point.

It's certainly an interesting experiment, and I for one would like to hear more about how it works out.
Originally Posted by jacknust View Post
I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or comments as to whether or not OmniFocus is appropriate in a multi-user environment.
It is not. At least not as described.
OF is not groupware, but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be useful in a law office. When I was a law intern at two different law offices I was always wishing I had OF. If you have a shared drive for your client files, your users could each link to those files in their own database for convenient access if they wanted without any disruption. I bet for the people it works for, it will be great and probably boost productivity. I think for a some people it's just too big a step, though.
[This repeats what others have said, but hopefully expands and clarifies also.]

OmniFocus 1.1 uses a "last in wins" model for resolving conflicts. With a single human using multiple computers, this tends to work pretty well, as you aren't for example likely to be editing the same action on both your computer and iphone very often. However, this solution is not workable in a multi-user environment. If you are adding a client's phone number to an action's note at the same time that a colleague is adding the client's fax number, only one of those will get saved.

There's also no notion in OmniFocus of which user did a certain thing. If you see an action marked completed and you didn't complete it, you have no way of knowing who did. (Well, I suppose you could add a note with your initials and a timestamp to every action you modify, but that'll likely get tedious quickly.)

I think OmniFocus could be useful to people working in a lawfirm, but I do not recommend that they share a single database.
As for the multiuser idea, I like the concept of individuals as contexts but with the addition of a toolbar button for a script that takes ownership of a task by changing it's context and then an individual could tailor their view to their own context. Each user could have an individualized script and just have their button on the toolbar. Then they could work through their own context and check the box as they go. Of course, "go for coffee", who's context would be outside the office, should be in a different database altogether. OmniPlan + OF >1.1 would likely do all this and more much more smoothly.
with version 1.1 can i keep my 2 computers in sync (laptop & desktop but single user)? is this a manual or automatic process? Adding iPhone to the mix when app is available, will you be able to easily sync all 3 devices?
mforbus: A single user can keep a laptop and a desktop in sync with OmniFocus 1.1 for Mac. There will be some manual configuration to get all your devices talking to the same WebDAV server, but after that, things are automatic. The same applies for adding an iPhone with OmniFocus for iPhone.
Thanks Lizard - time frame for 1.1? (general of course - days, weeks months? Also, will iphone version work to sync at least with one computer right away?
I have a related question that is related to the OP. Keep in mind that I am thinking of each of us having a separate OF database.

Imagine that I create a project, but it turns out that my girlfriend will have more available time, and I "delegate" it to her. Is there a good way to do any of the following:

1. Send the project information to her, so that she doesn't have to reenter it.
2. See the status of the actions in my OF database.

I am guessing that the answer is no at the moment. However, I can see tremendous value in taking the capture and process work from one person and reusing it where appropriate. Where I can see this being amazing for personal tasks is where an errands list is "shared" in a sense.

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