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I have sent this email to the Omnigroup, and they, showing their usual impeccable customer service, have responded within 24 hours.

They asked me to see if there are enough other people interested, so this could be a good alternative to the Inspector window available now.

Here is the email I sent.

Dear omni Group,

Well, to be honest, I am a long time Things user, and seriously considering using your application. I have tried the sneak peek of 1.8, and in its functionality, it is very very good, so you deserve a huge pat and thank you for the work you are doing, and for the thinking you put into this app.

I heard that the version 2 will have a much better design and UI, however I did not find much information about it, so I assume it will be a small evolution rather than a revolution.

I love your application, but I will give it a bit more time to see in which direction you will go with its design so that it is beautiful as well as functional. I guess we, as mac users, are spoiled with so many beautiful application available to us like discoapp, ripitapp, and Delicious library. I have seen the design of omnifocus for iPad and I seriously hope it will be part of the inspiration for the desktop app my friends.

I have seen improvements in 1.8 sneak peek, and I do like them a lot. However, I think that something that really makes the app a bit frustrating to use is the inspector. I have left the windows world a long time ago, used iwork as soon as it was out, and did not use office mac since the version 2004.

I, however, have had the opportunity to be one of the beta testers of Office for mac 2011, and in all honesty, it is an amazing product. I know just because it is made by Microsoft, especially on a mac, then it should be rubbish, but it honestly is not. They surpassed themselves and our wildest expectations with a product they are truly serious about.

Why do I go into this tangent? I hope it is not too daring, but I am honestly 100% convinced that you will offer all your customers a superior experience and much better ergonomics if you considered taking inspiration from the office for mac 2011 ribbon in Omnifocus.
I know it had its share of controversy. And well, it might mean nothing that, after using it, I find it incredibly useful and an advance in UI design.
But you should think about it from a different perspective. Omnifocus, for better or worse, is used mainly by power-users. Power users will definitely be using office 2011 at least for outlook, which means they will use the ribbon every day and will be very familiar with it.
So, for them, using the ribbon on Omnifocus will be a huge plus.

I hope you will consider this objectively. We all have negative associations with all that is microsoft made, so our natural response is to bash all they do, even if some has merit. But honestly, either try office 2011, or try mockups of the ribbon on omnifocus desktop, and I am sure that you will love this idea, and that millions will do too.

Thanks you.
And here is a link to view the UI Ribbon design I am talking about, spread out at the end of these preview videos

And please, my friends, negative emotions aside, consider how much the ease of use of Omnifocus will improve if it had a ribbon-like panel in its interface. Many users are afraid of adopting Omnifocus because it seems complicated, and the Ribbon has been confirmed after millions of dollars of study as actually an improvement in ease of use, and it does expose the powerful features hidden behind menus. Worth being at least a consideration?
I was surprised and impressed to find that Office now has spotlight integration.
My vote: no. I'm not a fan of the ribbon. Let's keep it out of Mac software.
Originally Posted by ifonline View Post
My vote: no. I'm not a fan of the ribbon. Let's keep it out of Mac software.
I understand, but could you give a valid reason for that vote, please?
Maybe the new ribbon will be better than the old ribbon, but I have found it too busy and much prefer a streamlined toolbar (which I sometimes collapse anyway) and contextual menus for detailed operations. I specifically don't like having that much real estate taken up by tool buttons. Having said that, I keep the OF inspector open all the time which means that at least some of the info there should be in the main window.
I don't know if the ribbon is the answer, but I would love to have something different than the current inspector. It is clumsy and takes up a lot of space on the screen (I suppose if I had a huge monitor or dual screens I could keep it open all the time).

Currently I use the keyboard command to toggle the Inspector open/closed, but once it's opened, you have to use the mouse to navigate through the various sections. Just making the Inspector more keyboard-friendly (no matter the format) would make it much more useful.

I wouldn't be opposed to a ribbon-like Inspector, but I find that MS products also waste a lot of screen real estate with their button bars and ribbons, which isn't good when using a small screen.
Originally Posted by Namssa View Post
I understand, but could you give a valid reason for that vote, please?
He did say that he doesn't like it, is that not a valid reason?

I use OmniFocus extensively on a small screen (Macbook) where the ribbon would be tying up precious screen real estate. The inspector is there when I want it, not when I don't, and does not reduce the number of rows I can see at once (though I agree it may partially obscure some of them).

On a larger screen (or multiple screens) space constraints are less of an issue, but here again i find the inspector to have an edge because I can put it right where I am working to minimize mouse/trackpad movements.

I have very little experience with the prior version of Office for Mac, but if asked to list Microsoft UI innovations i have encountered to date that have made me wish other programs incorporated them, well, let's just say there's plenty of blank space remaining on that page :-)

Got any mock-up skills? Perhaps a sketch of what you envision would be more compelling than a Microsoft PR video...
Originally Posted by Namssa View Post
I understand, but could you give a valid reason for that vote, please?
Valid reason = I don't like it.

More detailed reason = I prefer the inspector because I can move the inspector window wherever I want it, I can hide the inspector window if I don't need it, and the ribbon takes up screen space that I don't want to give up. The inspector window works just fine. No reason to re-invent the wheel, especially with a Microsoft concept.

Last edited by ifonline; 2010-08-27 at 06:28 AM..
Thanks for all the feedback.

Just an important clarification: as you can see in the videos I posted, the new Ribbon is collapsible.
If you click twice on its tab, it hides it freeing up screen space.

New User Interface Design: Office for Mac Ribbon

Another big addition to the Office 2011 suite is a ribbon that's at the core of our next-generation Office for Mac user experiences. We took your feedback and haven't completely rearranged what you know and love: the new design is an evolution of the Office 2008 Elements Gallery and uses the classic Mac menu and Standard Toolbar giving you the best of both worlds. You can even collapse the ribbon and the Toolbar for more screen space or for the more advanced users who rely on keyboard shortcuts. Together these tools make it easy to find and discover new and frequently used commands. In fact, more than 80 percent of the most used features live in the default view of our new user experience so you don't have to waste time finding the tool you need. Built using the latest Mac OS X technologies, the ribbon delivers a modern and fluid experience and also gives you a more consistent experience across platforms, which is key to productivity as 75 percent of Mac users also use a PC.
And to comment again about this being a Microsoft concept, other than that we should take what is good no matter what the source is, many other non MST programs are using the Ribbon now, including Autodesk products, dreamweaver, and the alpha of the next OpenOffice (named Renaissance).

Last edited by Namssa; 2010-08-27 at 07:54 AM..
I also find these ribbons a bit noisy and intrusive. Useful for a week or two as training wheels perhaps ...

A command-line version of OF might yield a better signal-to-noise ratio :-)

(I would rather type in WriteRoom than in Word, for example)


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