As some of you might have heard, I was in San Francisco last week for the OmniFocus 2 debut and Macworld. I had a really great time and I want to share some of my experiences while I was there.
- OmniFocus 2 will come out later this year – ETA still unknown.
- There will be a Standard and Pro version of OmniFocus 2.
- New features include improved Review mode, Forecast and new user interface.
I’ll have my thoughts on OmniFocus 2 later in this post. Basically, it’s pretty damn awesome.
NOTE: I spoke at the Omni Group event and was compensated for it, but this post reflects my own opinion and is not sponsored in any way.
OmniFocus Setup and Debut
A few weeks ago I found a place through AirBnB that was close to the Moscone center (where Macworld was) and the location of the Omni Group event. It was perfect because it was also close to Whole Foods (5 min walking) and a lot of restaurants (I love eating out in case you didn’t know). Before I got to my place, I went to Whole Foods, grabbed some groceries and lunch.
I sort of have a love/hate relationship with San Francisco. What I really like about it is the tech scene and that almost everything is close by. The adoption of tech and new stuff is great in SF, and I really like that. On the other hand, there are certain parts of the city that you want to avoid at night because it’s unsafe, dirty and…boring. Plus I don’t like cities that mostly have one-way streets. It’s so inefficient.
The times I come to SF is always fun though. Whether it’s a conference, event or friends – I always have a good time there. The Omni Group event was no different. The day before there was a dinner with the staff of Omni Group and all the speakers. I wish I took more pictures but here’s one with myself, Tim Stringer and David Sparks.
After dinner a bunch of us would go to the birthday party of Smile – the company behind TextExpander (see our little guide), PDFPen and more. Smile celebrated its 10th birthday (congratulations!) and threw a great party with lots of food and drinks. I met a lot of great people there in person that I only talked to before on Twitter or over email, such as Jean MacDonald (Smile), Brett Terpstra (Systematic), Fletcher Penney (Multi Markdown), Katie Floyd (Mac Power Users), Brooks Duncan (DocumentSnap), Michael Schechter (A Better Mess) and many more. It’s one thing to talk to someone over Twitter, it’s a totally different experience having a drink with that person at a party.
The next day was the actual Omni Group event. During the day there were a bunch of speakers and then later at night was the unveiling of OmniFocus 2 – what everyone was waiting for.
Around 10am-ish I took the stage together with Michael Schechter. We talked about contexts and how we use them. Mike has a very different approach than I have, so we wanted to show everyone that there is no perfect way to use them. We sort of poked at each other’s approach and discussed our evolution of how we came to use contexts the way we did. This talk was recorded and should be released soon.
Later that afternoon other speakers would come up and talk about task management and OmniFocus. It was great to see other guys talk about one of my favorite pieces of software. Guys like David Sparks, Mike Vardy, Kourosh Dini and others showed how flexible OmniFocus is. They all have different approaches to using it but all get results too.
Between talks I would talk to other OmniFocus users, attendees and the Omni Group staff. I have to say that The Omni Group staff are all super friendly and likeable.
It was really fun to meet the people who run the Omni Group and OmniFocus twitter accounts, seeing how they monitor feedback and provide customer support. Derek, Grayson and others at the Omni Group are on top of their game when it comes twitter.
Okay…OmniFocus 2. The stuff you’ve been waiting for. If you’ve been following the @asianefficiency twitter account, you got most of the details already. I live tweeted the event with pictures, videos and my own input as Liz (project manager at Omni Group) unveiled OmniFocus 2. I also made a short video the next day about it.
Here are some things to expect.
Accessibility and UI
Below is a picture that shows what the goals are for OmniFocus 2. One of the main ones is to make it easier to use. The new user interface will make it so much easier to use this software. It’s slick, modern, simple and easy to navigate.
Now that you’ll have a new sidebar layout, it will make navigating and finding stuff so much easier. Here’s a short video with Mike Vardy and Kourosh Dini where they talk about the new OmniFocus.
The review mode on the desktop will be completely revamped. It will look very similar to how it is on the iPad. Currently most people prefer doing their reviews on the iPad but with OmniFocus 2 that will be a thing of the past. It will be just as intuitive on the desktop and I expect myself to do most of my reviews on the desktop. It’s easier to rearrange stuff with a mouse, faster to add more tasks and so on.
Planning with the new Forecast feature will step up your productivity game to Asian Efficient levels. While on the iOS you can see the whole week in front of you, on the desktop you’ll be able to see the whole week and month. You can even customize it for very specific date ranges. For example, you can forecast only workdays, every Saturday of the month and much more. This will make planning so much easier when you have your calendar tightly integrated with OmniFocus.
Standard and Pro
OF2 will come in two flavors. The Pro edition will have everything the Standard edition have plus support for Perspectives and Applescript. I think this is a great move.
From my experience, most people don’t use Perspectives. While it’s one of the most powerful features, most people really don’t need it. Unless you’re a productivity nerd like yours truly, if you set up OmniFocus correctly then you’ll get by just fine.
If you want extra horse power, then you should go for the Pro version. If you’re on the fence which one you should pick, I already know the answer for you: Standard. If you don’t know what Perspectives are and think Applescript is like Chinese, you’ll be just fine with the Standard edition.
Everyone who was at the event got an invitation for the private beta test. This is a small group of people who will get first access and play around with it. I managed to get 28 invites for the private beta. I tweeted that I would give away a couple and I got over 120 (!!) emails within a day. It’s too bad I couldn’t give everyone an invite.
When this private beta will be released is still unknown, but I’ll let you know when it is in the wild.
To wrap things up, try to come out next year if you can. It’s so much fun and you will learn a lot.