Are custom fonts/colors/styling in the outline view supported? [Supported in v2.5]


Also, too much white for me. I’d like more customizability. Thankfully, there is a way to put all data on one line. The more tasks I can see at once, the better.


I’m an OF1 power user, deciding if I’m going to take on OF2 just yet. My styling changes involved status-based color changes, a slight increase in contrast for notes and blocked actions, and action color changes. I don’t recall if I changed row spacing or font size.

Status-based colors are pretty important to me, and it’s one of my reasons for hesitating. I hope to see styling options in the near future.

(Now I’m off to find out if my custom perspectives will migrate.)


For what it’s worth, I had a similar set up in OF1(heavy on the custom status based color, etc) and I had one hell of a time using OF2 for a while. I was so used to things jumping out at me and being obvious I felt like I was missing out on actions, etc.

During the private beta I kept OF1 running, I had a lot of work and no time to poke around. I caved in and went OF2-only and after a week I got used to it. After two I was fine. I stressed a bit in those two weeks and my workflow slowed down.

I’m not saying it’s fine as is right now, I just wanted to offer a word of caution: if you have been using colors and contrast for some time, you might need a decent amount of time to get over losing it. I wouldn’t switch in the middle of a big project :)

Lastly, I had issues with a couple custom perspectives, but with a little work I ironed out the details.


Seeing as how so many of the Omni apps (including OF1) offer the ability to customize the theme, I am curious as to if this could be a possibility with OF2?

In addition to being able to customize theme colors and fonts (a feature I use in OF1 to make the appearance less distracting), I was curious if any theming in OF2 could also allow:

  • Scaling up and down the size of the “check circles” (I would like to improve the “data density” (to borrow someone else’s phrase) and place more items on the screen.
  • Allow me to move the check off to the left hand side instead of right? Something about the check off being on the right hand side messes around with my expectations.

In Forecast view, what about an option to place Calendar Events (for a selected date) under the calendar? Seems like an awful lot of wasted space there, and moving the events there would allow me to see more items in my to do list.


I moved 4 posts to an existing topic: Requests to add custom styling in the outline view


Our priority was to get one particular layout working for the initial 2.0 release, so customers who liked that layout could start using the app now. But we plan to offer alternative layouts, and you can even try one of them right now in the current build:


Thanks Ken - that’s a much better layout (I missed that thread). It’ll make it usable until the bugs get fixed (like not being able to check the box).


For me, it’s less the layout than the font customizations. I find it very hard to scan the way the fonts display. In OF1, I had a number of elements that were different colors, which made it easier to spot things at a quick glance. While OF1 may have offered too many customizations for many users, the lack of any customizations is a weakness for me in OF2.


I’m working on a forum post describing how to customize the fonts and colors in the current 2.0 build. (There aren’t any preference settings, but you can set custom fonts and colors by providing your custom settings in a text file.)


I was considering the upgrade, but will not do it now based on these last two reviews. I use the customization very much, as @kirkmc shares here. I like the current mac versions WAY better than the iPad version. I find the iPad version so difficult to work with that I rarely use it. :(

Density is important. Less scrolling means more efficient.


But creating perspectives that can help focus on the right tasks helps to reduce the need for long lists.

I use perspectives to chop and slice and dice everything.

Often, I’ll just look at one folder at a time. Or I can command-click to select multiple related projects or contexts at a time. If it is a common view that I like to use, then I’ll save it as a perspective.

The whole idea of OmniFocus is to help you zoom in on a few handful of things instead of creating one huge scrolling list. Making the list denser may or may not make things easier to see.

I follow similar path in OmniOutliner. I just select sections to focus and edit on. I don’t necessarily want to see the entire outline. I just want to see what I’m working on it. It makes things easier to see.


Is that just an interim solution? Because it’s really annoying to have to change settings in text files (I assume something like a CSS file), or with hidden preferences (even though you’re use of URLs is better than going to Terminal).


The problem is that OF 2 forces a 1/2 density, high mouse/eye movement layout on a user base used to the compact and efficient OF 1 interface. Perhaps it would have been better to serve the existing user base first, then expand to less-dense layouts later. To use your example, you may not want to see the entire outline - but at least in OF1 that’s your choice, not a limitation of the application. In any case, the whole idea of GTD is that you can see everything on a given list at a glance - OF2’s default layout breaks that paradigm pretty badly.

For the record, I’m very apprehensive about OSX 10.10 for the same reason - Apple’s designers seem bent on reducing density via adding whitespace (which again, triggers unnecessary eye and mouse movement). Repeat after me: A computer is not a phone, a computer is not a phone, a computer is not a phone…

So for one more specific example, the checkbox-on-the-right issue is a really poor choice. It takes significant eye and mouse movement to associate the target with the text. I’ve now seen this in a couple of different applications, and would love to know what UI design ‘guru’ came up with it so I could go have some very stern words with them. I’ve done eye-tracking HCI studies in the past - let’s just say that if we did one on a right/left design like this there would be so much eye movement that it’d probably look like someone was in REM sleep, and so much wrist movement that it’d make a carpel tunnel surgeon put a down payment on a new boat :-).

So the net is that the double-secret-probation layout Ken posted solves most of the issues, though it still needs work (fixed width columns and checkable check box/circles, for example), and needs to be added as an explicit preference.

I guess I was expecting OF2 to be at least as mature as OF1, especially given the lengthy development cycle it’s had, and that’s the root of my disappointment. OF2 removed a bunch features from OF1, but I guess I haven’t seen any new ones that were added.


And after working with it more, the frustration continues - particularly the lack of ability to resize columns, and well, the lack of columns to begin with. The UI makes it impossible to quickly scan and see what items in my inbox are missing projects and/or contexts.

The lack of an inline calendar widget (yes I know it’s in the inspection bar, but that’s yet another mouse movement to get to it and then back to the task), and the really poor font size and color choices make it both frustrating to use, and hard to read. Doesn’t anyone at Omni use reading glasses?

I hope we’re going to see some major UI layout and font improvements very soon…it really is much much less usable than OF1.

Which brings me to my next question - is there a clean way to go back to OF1 until these issues are fixed?


Well, after figuring out a workaround for the sync, I just downloaded OF 2. Now I’m wondering if I should have just stuck with OF1. The user interface is much much less efficient. The large amount of white space means that only half the tasks show up on the screen compared with OF1. The significant amount of eye and mouse movement required by the placement of the checkbox (circle?) on the right is distracting and frustrating. The elimination of columns makes it hard to scan down the lists of tasks for missing information.

I guess the most surprising thing is the complete lack of customization - it forces us into using one particular layout. Very very disappointed.


kcase, any news on this?


Ping - any news on the forum post? Or updates on any of the other issues in the several threads all merged into one?


I do see some small test builds that keep popping up every few days. I see we’re up to version 2.0.2. These new test builds mostly address bug fixes. Custom styling is probably in the queue somewhere. We’ll probably have to wait for version 2.1 for custom stylings to be addressed. We got a sneak peak with that URL which allows us to try the experimental one line layout.


Yep, and that layout isn’t fully functional.

I was specifically referring to the blog post that Ken promised.


@kcase Ken, you are such a tease! I’m trying hard to convince my wife that OF2 is as great as her iPad version, but the lack of visual styling hierarchy in the outline view is killing her. Would be totally happy with a text-file-based hack for now. Any chance that’s still in the works?