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I got my invitation about a week ago, and am having a very basic problem that I haven't seen addressed on the forums. I'm not a power user, so please forgive if I'm missing something really obvious. I launched OmniFocus the first time, and I imported my kGTD document, and worked on it. Everything about OmniFocus seems great, by the way! But--when I quit OmniFocus and then relaunched it, the following happened. When launching, I got error message 1: "UNABLE TO READ DOCUMENT. Was expecting a single tail transaction, but found 2" After I clicked on OKAY, that window didn't close, but I got error message 2: "ALERT". After I clicked okay on that window, it closed, and then I clicked okay on the first window, it closed, then OmniFocus launched, but no default document opened. I located the most recent backup document from the Omnifocus Backups folder, and have been using it. Since then, I've updated the from the daily builds twice, and I'm still getting the same error messages. Also, when I try to quit OmniFocus, the whole process repeats. The only way I can quit is to force-quit.

As a side question that may somehow be related--I may have a basic misunderstanding about how the program works, but I feel like there are menubar commands missing that should be there: I thought I would find menu bar commands like Save, New Blank Document, Open, Open Recent, etc. Instead, I can only Backup Document. Is this correct? How do I get launch individual documents if I have more than one?

Thanks for any insight you can provide. I know that Omnifocus has a dedicated following already, and the comments and community on this forum are really great.
 
Every once in a while you download a new build that just doesn't work at all. Send a bug report to Omni, then download a build that's one version older than the one that's not working and see if it doesn't work better.

I had the same experience going from 88988 to 89006. It just kept spitting out error messages and wouldn't quit properly. So I sent a bug report describing it, downloaded the older version, and went back to getting things done. I've grabbed a few versions since then that didn't have the same issues.

That's why it's an alpha.
 
I got the "expecting a single tail transaction" error once. The thing to do if you get it is to do the following:
1. Quit OmniFocus (since you can't open the document anyway...)
2. Navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/
3. Drag your OmniFocus.ofocus file out of that folder, for example to the Desktop.
4. Relaunch OmniFocus, which should create an empty file
5. Use the "Send Feedback..." command to let Omni know about the problem and what you did to produce it. Attach the file that you moved in step 3.
6. Use the "restore from backup" command in the File menu to restore the most recent backup from ~/Documents/OmniFocus Backups/
7. Make any required changes to the file that you had done since the last backup. And if the error reproduces itself, go back to step 1.

Regarding your other questions, I'll just note that OmniFocus is currently designed as a single-document program (like Mail or Address Book, as someone pointed out in another thread). An important point behind the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach to task management is to collect your tasks in as few places as necessary. If you had more than one OmniFocus file you'd have to keep checking them to make sure you weren't forgetting any actions. To make OmniFocus work, you should learn to use projects and folders to divide up your areas of responsibility, projects, and tasks, and contexts to specify the places or tools that you need to accomplish them.

If you haven't read David Allen's Getting Things Done, I'd recommend it; as a second best, take a look at Merlin Mann's 43Folders.com website.

Oh, one more thing: when you're alpha-testing software, even software as reliable as Omni's, don't put any information in the program that you couldn't stand to lose. If that means duplicating all your information in another program, then do it. Alpha testing isn't for the faint of heart.
 
brianogilvie,

Thanks--that worked. Followed your instructions re: feedback. Your other comments make sense also, I don't know why I would want more than one Omnifocus file--it was a habit I was starting to get into with kGTD out of laziness. I think it absolutely makes the most sense to use Omni's folders and sub-projects to integrate all of my actions.

I stumbled across Kinkless and kGTD a few months ago while searching for something completely unrelated, and started learning about GTD through Ethan Schoonover's enthusiastic work and 43 folders. I'm halfway through "Getting Things Done", and and while I haven't totally drunk the kool-aid (at heart I'm not a systematic kind of guy), I do have eureka! moments every couple of pages, and I really appreciate how GTD and kGTD (and now Omnifocus) gave me instant results from the first day I started applying the principles. And since I'm not great at systems, I love how Omnifocus gives me a system that works for me, instead of a system that makes me work for it!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie
Oh, one more thing: when you're alpha-testing software, even software as reliable as Omni's, don't put any information in the program that you couldn't stand to lose. If that means duplicating all your information in another program, then do it. Alpha testing isn't for the faint of heart.
That's probably good advice, but I'm not following it. Here's why.

I have the OmniFocus preferences set for the most paranoid backup settings: twice a day and when quitting. OmniFocus database back-ups are in XML, so I could extract my data from the backups even without OmniFocus. This would not be straightforward, but it is doable. I've judged the expected cost of doing that to be much less than the cost of maintaining duplicate systems. (Different people will make different judgments here. As a computer scientist I'm comfortable with writing a program to extract human usable data from the XML.)

But do be careful. Although it hasn't happen in about a month now, I have had some temporary data loss in OmniFocus. As I recall I lost a whole OF folder worth of projects. But I was able to go back through my backup OF databases and recover the data.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Curt--I don't think we disagree. It depends on how you define what you can't stand to lose! About once a week these days I'm going to the Project view, showing all projects and remaining actions, hitting "select all," copying, and pasting the resulting list into a BBEdit text file. That's all I would need to get started again if, for some reason, I discovered a subtle DB corruption that went back some time.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie
About once a week these days I'm going to the Project view, showing all projects and remaining actions, hitting "select all," copying, and pasting the resulting list into a BBEdit text file.
I am using OF exclusively and haven't lost any data. Like you, Brian, I copy all the data to a text file periodically. That works for me, but it doesn't preserve anything but the title fields for the folders, projects, and actions. None of the related data is captured, such as context, dates, time, etc. Do you get more data than that? If so, how?

Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton
As a computer scientist I'm comfortable with writing a program to extract human usable data from the XML.
Curt, how would you extract the data from the XML (as a general matter, not specific code)? I have tried opening the .ofocus file with TextEdit, but TextEdit declines.

OmniOutliner allows exporting in a variety of formats. I hope OF will also eventually.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhm2006
I am using OF exclusively and haven't lost any data. Like you, Brian, I copy all the data to a text file periodically. That works for me, but it doesn't preserve anything but the title fields for the folders, projects, and actions. None of the related data is captured, such as context, dates, time, etc. Do you get more data than that? If so, how?
No, I don't get any other data. But I figure that OF has been very stable so far, so my risk of losing metadata is low. If I have a list of projects and remaining actions, it would be pretty easy to reconstruct start and due dates, contexts, and other metadata.

I have to confess that I started doing this copy in my early days of alpha testing, and from time to time I would run a diff against two files to make sure that the only things missing from a later file were actions I had completed or deleted. I haven't done that for a while, though.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhm2006
Curt, how would you extract the data from the XML (as a general matter, not specific code)? I have tried opening the .ofocus file with TextEdit, but TextEdit declines.
You have to use a database backup. The regular .ofocus file is really a package containing a bunch of individual transactions. Ken Case explains why in another thread. The database backup is also a package, but if you "Show package contents" in the Finder, you'll find an XML file inside. That file summarizes the entire contents of your OF database.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Thank you both.
 
 


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