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Brian, thanks for such a very full and revealing post - one of the most complete I’ve ever seen from a developer in a forum and much appreciated. It’s encouraging and helpful - and fascinating - to be given such a frank insight into things from your point of view, and certainly adds to the sense of a community of developers and users. I can well understand the issues you have to deal with, especially the problem of dealing with less pressing requests and priorities (maybe we should organize a mass email write-in to back our request and bring it up the list!).

Your OmniPlan suggestion is an interesting, if somewhat clunky, workround. At the risk of sounding pompous, I hadn’t looked into this much as I had no plans to buy the app and always feel iffy about using non-freeware without stumping up, but if it’s okay with you.

Otherwise, what you say about future prospects is tantalizing, to put it mildly. Nothing Gantt but maybe a “while new view mode” - highly intriguing. Will be on tenterhooks waiting to see how it pans out. Meanwhile, thanks again and power to you.
Originally Posted by mcoad View Post
... (maybe we should organize a mass email write-in to back our request and bring it up the list!) ...
This is what I just sent in thanks to Brian's great post on enhancement request best practices:
I want to make a formal request for a Calendar-like view feature to be added in the next version of OmniFocus-

I don't like to have to jump back and forth between my calendar and OmniFocus, and often-times the current "timeline tools" ("move to context view, sort by start date/due date, expand rows") just doesn’t convey the same type of data psychologically as traditional calendar views.

I could see having monthly, weekly, and daily views; with a section of the weekly/daily views showing next actions that have no specific date information in them.

It would also be convenient if it could pull data from iCal, so I had a "unified" calendar view (meetings, etc that are not in OmniFocus).

I DO NOT need ghant views, or other similar higher-end features that are available in OmniPlan, and I don't think I even need to see the ability to transfer data between OmniFocus and OmniPlan (I already own OmniPlan by the way, so that is not a factor).
Originally Posted by mcoad View Post
Otherwise, what you say about future prospects is tantalizing, to put it mildly. Nothing Gantt but maybe a “while new view mode” - highly intriguing. Will be on tenterhooks waiting to see how it pans out. Meanwhile, thanks again and power to you.
Clarification: Gantt charting or calendaring would be a whole new view mode to add to the application, which is a LOT of work, and thus something we don't enter into lightly. I'm not saying that we're having internal discussions about adding a new mode.

Sorry for the confusion; I'll edit my post to make that clearer.
As I recall, the trigger for folks wanting gantt charting is to avoid overcommitting on projects at work. Your approach to dealing with this should really have very little to do with OF. If you are project driven, you should aready have a handle on your time commitments to existing projects; you are either tracking or reporting status on this already. It is just a matter of keeping a running tab. Presumably, you are doing so either as a part of your business' time accounting and/or project management systems.

I realize that many businesses chronically run in unplanned crisis mode. If this is your situation, I'm sorry; but your problems are bigger than OF and GTD. That said, there is nothing stopping you from trying to bring some order to the chaos; but just be aware that it is likely that someone above you in the food chain actually wants the chaos. Tread carefully.

With this in mind, alternatives to gantt charting in OP:

1. Excel (there a many "googleable" WBS examples that should be adaptable to your situation)

2. Your time accounting application may support forecasting. If so, this is probably your best option for estimating your time commitments.

3. iCal. If you know that certain parts of your day are (or should) be reserved for certain activities, block them out. This will give you a better idea of just how much project time you actually have each week.

4. OmniOutliner (you may need the pro version). There is an example template for a budget. Treat the dollars as hours (or change the data type if you are not as lazy as I have been), and you have a very simple forecasting system that is in a format you may already be comfortable with. I use this for projects around the house . . .
I'd like to chime in as perhaps a "joe public" user who isn't so involved in the "OG community" and mention that I definitely would get a lot of use out some way of visualising the deadlines. A calendar view is quite an undertaking, but a way to sync actions with deadlines to ical and have them produced as 10 minute events at the time they're set to would give me all the functionality i need. As things currently stand I end up adding deadlined events to iCal and then to OF as a token gesture to my system, and iCal ends up being far more useful than context mode in deciding what to do next.
Originally Posted by yucca View Post
As I recall, the trigger for folks wanting gantt charting is to avoid overcommitting on projects at work.
Nope. Just want a simple way of viewing stuff in easy, horizontal, timeline form so as to see how it all pans out together. That would fit hand-in-glove with OF. Anything else requires bigger guns and - as has repeatedly been said on the thread - would be overkill.
Here's a quote from another thread of someone I agree with:
Another option that would add a great deal of power to OF would be to be able to choose where/how an OF item is treated within iCal - as a task OR as an event.
Some of us work better with task lists as iCal presents them, and some better in events. I happen to use both, but lean more heavily on events. Generating enormous iCal task lists doesn't do me much good.
My 0.02 for Omni
I would ask folks that are interested in seeing this happen to please send email to; while posts here are good for discussing ideas, it's a lot easier for us to record your feedback into the development database if it comes in via email.
Updating this thread, since I'm about to direct a poster in another thread to have a look at it.

The development team has held extensive discussions about syncing OmniFocus actions to the calendar database instead of or in addition to the ToDo database; for the foreseeable future, we feel it's not the right thing to do. If that changes, we'll certainly make that known.

We feel that actions which have very specific times associated with them - say a meeting that's from three to four PM next tuesday - should defitnitely go on a calendar. Fixed start time, fixed end time. Calendars are really, really good at tracking information like this; they better be, because they've been doing it for centuries. :-)

In addition to the well-defined ones that go on your calendar, there's a second class of actions: these are the ones that OmniFocus is particularly good at helping you with. As an example, one of these actions would be to prepare for that meeting I mentioned in the previous example. That action has a firm end time - when the meeting starts - but doesn't have a firm start time. It could begin in five minutes, or it could begin tomorrow, or it could begin five minutes before the meeting. :-)

Actions like that are the ones that OmniFocus is particularly good at helping you with, but they don't translate well to the calendar. Given the ways that iCal presents event information, we can think of several ways to add items like this to the calendar; none of them would work in every case. That means we probably need to add them all, which means more "stuff" folks using the app have to wade through, and that they'll have to figure out why the choices they made didn't produce the results they expected. (Another alternative would be that we allow you to sync some actions to the calendar and forbid others, which will also confuse and annoy folks.)

After considering these and some other factors, the team feels pretty strongly that using OmniFocus and a separate calendar is the way to go. (Essentially, we recommend adopting the workflow that Yucca advocates in his post.) The calendar provides information about the hard landscape, and OmniFocus helps you fill in the gaps by holding a stack of actions you can pull from as you're able.

Trying to mix the two would be a lot of work and would likely produce results that weren't as satisfying as folks expect from us. In our opinion, it's simpler and more effective to track the things that a calendar is good for on the calendar, track the things that OmniFocus is good for in OmniFocus, and use the two together to be most productive.

Yes, your information is in two places, but that's because the two apps are actually tracking different kinds of information. (There are rare cases where the information needs to be entered in both applications, but we don't advocate double-entry on a regular basis.)

Last edited by Brian; 2009-05-20 at 08:31 AM.. Reason: clarify no need for double-entry
ah well .. back to LifeBalance ! They seem to be able to do this quite well (try the demo). Or perhaps Things, if they're smart!

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