I am a long time OF user. I installed the trial version of OF4 a few days ago and was surprised by the number of bugs/inconsistencies I encountered.
On my iPad the I saw this screen first after I entered the sync settings:
There was only my project list and the screen was completely unresponsive. Restarting the app solved things. Fortunately this is fixed in version 4.01. But it was not a good first impression.
Then I installed OF4 on my Mac. Here the quick entry window looked strange: only the action title was visible, project and other fields were half or not visible. Resizing the window did not help. I could switch to column input which worked better, but here the tab sequence was not logic. Also here restarting the app fixed the problem.
I also noticed that there was a difference in layout between Mac and iPad. On iPad the icon indicating a note is right behind the action/project name (which I prefer), on the Mac this icon is at the end of the row, making it harder to see if an action/project has a note. Why this difference?
Yesterday I installed OF4 on my iPhone. To my surprise the app got in a loop after I entered the details for my WebDav server. No error message, it just won’t go past that screen. Restarting the app helped for a short while but sync quickly stalled. I don’t understand: on my iPad and Mac WebDav sync is working fine, why is the iPhone different?
Never before have I encountered so many irregularities when updating to a new version of OF. I feel like a beta tester. I know issues will be solved, but the experience I had after just a few hours of trying out don’t give me confidence. To be fair: I saw a few new things in OF4 that I liked. But at this moment I don’t feel encouraged to upgrade. I deleted OF4 from my iPhone (because unusable). I think I would like a second trial period.
Sorry for the rant, but I had to get this off my chest.
I have to agree here. I have been using Omnifocus for eight years. I switched from being a 30-year PC/mindmanager power user to the Mac to get access to the Desktop version after falling in love with the iPhone/iPad versions. I pay for the web version to enable occasional interactions from my work PC. I understand fully how it works.
I empathize with Omnigroup’s challenges in keeping power users satisfied, enticing new users, paying off technical debt with a code rewrite to Swift UI, trying to get to one code base for three platforms, and keeping/growing a revenue stream. This is a tough needle to thread.
I fear OF4 is stuck in the uncanny valley between being intuitive and powerful, between enticing new users and keeping old ones. I need the iPhone version to be crisp and efficient. I find it too fidgety. I get stuck and must remember there is an inspector icon off in the corner to click.
One of my favorite David Allen quotes is “If you are a short-order cook, your job isn’t to stack and sort your order slips.” I find with Omnifocus; I’m falling into the trap of stacking/ sorting/ tagging/ deferring/ reviewing vs. “cooking”. My OF system is partially bricked now due to OF not knowing where my archive file is, and not presenting any way to fix that. I called the 1800 number during business hours, and got a message it was not within business hours.
The next two weeks are key goal-setting/reflection time, and unfortunately, I think I need to try out the competition now. I’m a big Omnigroup supporter, and they can keep my purchase price. I hope with this big leap to SwiftUI complete and more rapid improvement enabled, v4.1 can draw me back.
Ironic, considering OF4 was in beta for something like two years, and OF3 didn’t get any worthwhile updates for the past year because of the focus on OF4.
I like the feature set of OF4, but I do have to agree that it doesn’t seem quite production-ready yet. I updated my iPhone and Watch and it took like 30 minutes for my watch complication to update properly. Hopefully that was a first time issue and it won’t be the rule going forward.
Apologies for the somewhat rougher-than-usual start! One side effect of doing a simultaneous app launch on all platforms (and requiring App Store review on all of those platforms) is that coordinating everything is a little trickier than it was with earlier launches. The first round of App Store review usually takes longer than later updates, but this time it took surprisingly long—long enough to delay our planned release date. Once 4.0 was finally approved, we immediately submitted 4.0.1 (which we’d been working on while the review was in process), but the turnaround on that review was longer than expected. And then we submitted 4.0.2 last week, but its review cycle has also been longer than expected!
I’ve been closely watching the support queues, and overall the reception to this release has been very positive! Our App Store reviews are averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars in both the iOS App Store and the macOS App Store across all regions—a pretty fantastic rating!
But there is certainly still more work to do, and I really wish that some of these bugs which we’ve already fixed were already available to you all. Hopefully very soon now!
And, of course, we’re still learning about things as the app makes its way to a much wider audience than our (full) 10,000-user TestFlight. If you’d prefer to wait for more of those bug fixes to land, it’s certainly reasonable to hold off for a few updates rather than jumping into OmniFocus 4 right away!
@kcase – The US App Store is currently showing 4.4 on 28 ratings for the mac app.
I’m sure bugs will get addressed. I’m thinking more of the interface. I find with OF that task age is either really short or really long. Some tasks go to inbox and get done before they get processed. Once tasks are tagged/projected/deadlined, etc, they can tend to go into the abyss. Only deadlines or very clever perspectives, or tab-switching habits brings them back. I would guess we all tend to keep far too many items on the front burner.
What I see now in one of your competitors is a mobile home screen that more naturally gets everything on the table in a prioritized single window scroll (inbox, today, upcoming, anytime, someday, logbook). Today is more integrated with time than merely being a tag. I can see the ceiling that will kick in with it in terms of customization, but default air-tightness is something I think OF needs to consider borrowing that approach or something similar for new users and even us old timers.
The under-the-hood aspect of OF is rock solid and impressive. I’m always amazing I can process on one device (or maybe 2) on an airplane and somehow OF reconciles things in the background after the fact. Here you are running two versions across 3 platforms along with all the window shapes involved.
I hope your team gets a good holiday rest and then gets back to the power the fresh code will enable.
I have to say I am deeply disappointed that after all this time waiting, and the cost too, OF4 seems to be a buggy mess. The first things I’ve tried with it on iPad have failed, simple things like dragging the plus button (as directed in the tutorial project) which just freezes (bug submitted).
I’ve been an OF user since its inception as an OmniOutliner hack, and really want it to work for me, but this new version has let me down before I’ve barely started. I can’t understand how Omni has had years of building and testing with thousands of users and it’s still not usable straight out of the gate.
I can’t understand how Omni has had years of building and testing with thousands of users and it’s still not usable straight out of the gate.
That’s because you are not involved in software development whatsoever. OF4 has been a major rewrite of the application in a different programming language/framework (swiftUI to be more precise). The advantage of doing this is that you can cleanup old stuff, restructure things, etc. so that it will work better in the future and is much easier to adapt. The disadvantage of this kind of move are the bugs when you release it. It is a major change which means that it will affect a lot of different areas and workflows which is impossible to check due to the level of complexity. As time passes by you’ll see things stabilise. This is why the general advice is to never upgrade to a .0 release but wait for the .1 (as outdated that advice might be).
Note that while you may have thousands of users to test the software it still may not be nowhere near enough users to thoroughly test the software. You also need to understand that these are just users and not well experienced software testers. Normal users testing software will only test a very small and narrow set of features within the software. It is nowhere near the amount of testing done by well experienced software testers. Yet this is still important because these users may test some specific stuff that the official tests do not cover.
The other thing to understand is that the testing Omni did was not about stability of the software but about the UI (do users like the new UI, are they able to use it, etc.) and feature set.
I am deeply disappointed in the lack of research you and others have done into software development and the easiness of which you bash the software and company. Software development is very complex, especially rewriting existing software (which is what they did with OF4). Had you done any homework you’d have found out that there is a trial version and that you can run OF3 and OF4 alongside so you can test the new version yourself and have a migration period. Aside from that, I hope you do report the bugs because that’s the only way to get things to improve (for everyone).
What an incredibly condescending reply.
Correct, your previous reply is indeed incredibly condescending. Good that you are now aware of it.
Please refrain from making these kind of replies, they are not helpful to anyone.
Feeling clever with your snarky comments? And who the hell are you to tell me to refrain from replying?
I have a genuine issue with this software, but somehow it’s my fault for not understanding the software development process (or so you assume), or that I should wait until it’s fixed in a future release?
It’s pompous and pretentious comments from self-important people which aren’t helpful.
I am a software developer with 25+ years in the industry and have led more development efforts than I can conveniently count. If Omni doesn’t have any experienced software testers on their team (which I highly doubt), then that’s a pretty big organizational failure and explains a lot.
Refactoring existing software should result in greater reliability and stability, even when porting to a different language and framework. Especially when you are talking about software that has undergone literal years of beta testing. I agree with @philipking that it’s ridiculous that the OF4 release has so many UX issues that come up in daily use. I’ve had to kill and restart the app on my iPad because the perspective bar just blanked out and wouldn’t repopulate no matter what I did. I’ve had instances where I was just adding an item to an action group and the item showed a title in the inspector but kept showing as a blank action in the project view. Keyboard navigation mostly works, except for when it doesn’t and I have to use touch interface instead, which happens a couple times a day.
All of which is to say that while I appreciate the new features of OmniFocus 4, it is absolutely justified to say that the software quality is subpar. To be clear, I’ve been updating to the newest version upon release because theoretically bugs are being fixed (but the above behaviors were all experienced with 4.0.3).
As to running OF3 and OF4 concurrently… I suppose you can do that, but considering the extremely long beta period for OF4 and the lack of updates to OF3 during that time, it’s understandable that people would want to move to the new platform. And I think it’s a little ridiculous for you to suggest that users should be doing extra work to use both versions for expensive software that we have paid for. I use OmniFocus as a tool to stay productive, every workaround that I need to enact in order to counter flaws in that tool is a waste of my time and money. Even with the upgrade discount, OF4 is a pretty tough sell in its current state.
Of course software is difficult to make, port etc. While engineers may empathize, customers should not be expected to. Onwards — JM
In fact, I love Omnifocus and those who created it. Unfortunately, I said goodbye the day before yesterday and now use the software of a well-known competitor. And this after many years in which the USPs of OF3 have convinced me totally. First and foremost the excellent flexibility, especially the perspectives.
Honestly, now and then I had the idea of switching before, especially because the iOS or rather watchOS versions of the competitor are significantly better and work better, which is something you still can’t say about OF on the Apple Watch. Not a big thing. But there are expectations.
However, I always rejected the idea of switching. My system worked. I wanted to get my tasks done, no more and no less. You can overlook minor imperfections. Especially when OF4 was announced, I was sure that the Omni Team would catch up with what the competitiors - in my view undeniably - do better: nicer and more functional UI, better usability, intuitive and making optimum use of the space on the small screens of iPhones etc. without being overloaded. Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the case. OF4 is disappointing. And I’m not talking about the teething troubles that every x.0 version has. That’s not my point. Rather, I’m talking about the still bulky design, extremely fiddly operation and certain inconsistencies. All in all, OF4 just seems different compared to OF3 and not really better. I do believe that the switch to Swift UI, with all the consequences of such a step, is extremely demanding and takes a long time. But the fact that the result is rubbish is not the fault of the users and customers. The app, like any other, is measured against the products of the competition. And there it fails. Thats a bit sad, The good is the enemy of the better.
All the best to the Omnigroup.
I agree across the board with your assessment. So I have to ask: what is the “well-known competitor” you’ve switched to? (If you can’t write out the full name, perhaps just the first and last letters, and I’ll figure it out?)
I believe the migration to SwiftUI to be a monumental undertaking requiring rewriting most of the app code, and it’s evident it’s been hard for Omni --just look at all the beta period!. You are correct that the users and customers have no fault, and it’s of course fair enough to switch to another competitor…
I do not even use OF these days (short story, I don’t need any form of specialised task management) but I bought the license and am still rooting for Omni! I hope they now have the foundations to improve the UI after this “replace all the stuff under the hood” release.