Filter v. Batch Find

If I use Filter, I get a filtered view that shows me the items that contain the search string, PLUS their parent items. This is good.

But I do not get their children items. This is okay if all the items the filter selects are the lowest level items in my outline, and show me all their parent rows. But if the items selected are not the lowest level, I don’t get to see all that I want to see.

So I have to use Batch Find. That gives me a sidebar with the items selected, from which I can choose only at one at a time.

I’d much rather see all the filtered items - in their entirety - together in the main window.

It seems to be that OmniFocus does this in Perspectives. Is there any way for OmniOutliner to allow Filter to show children rows as well as parent rows?

Okay, that got nothing. Let me try this:

If I do a Batch Find for a certain search string, the sidebar shows me a list of items that contain the search string. If I click on any one of those, I get the item and all its children, which is what I want.

If I went into the main window and Ctrl-clicked EACH of those items that Batch Find pointed me to, I would end up with each of the items highlighted in the main window. If I then selected View/Focus, I would get what I’m looking for: all the items that match the search criteria, along with their children.

Is there some way - maybe through a script or automation - that I can Batch Find and then focus the main window to show me the select items and their children?

I looked carefully at your request and came up with this solution. Not ideal but if it fits your needs, perhaps a Plug-In could be made to speed-up the process. A shortcut could be assigned to it.

The idea is:

  • Type the search string into Batch Find.
  • Click one of the results in the sidebar.
  • Execute this code in Automation Console:
document.editors[0].focusedItems = document.editors[0].selection.items
  • Click the other result/s in the sidebar to bring them into focus.

Is this what you were thinking ?

Hi - thanks so much for this. It’s a step closer to what I need. It does allow me - after a lot of clicking in the sidebar - to create a view with just the items from my Batch Find. If there were a way to get them all to show up automatically, without my having to click each one every time I want to invoke it, it would be better.

But even if it did, I’m still left with the problem that the resultant view shows children items but not parents, and thus the items lack the context I need. This is baked into OO, I guess, and there doesn’t seem to be any way around it for now. Alas.

But I really appreciate your trying.

You’re are welcome.

My view shows each selected item and its descendants, do you want to see selected items and its immediate ancestors ? Or, do you want to focus an item and show every ancestor of it ?

I want to see children and parents. Without parent items visible, I can’t tell the context of the selected times. Ecco Pro did this, and it gave me way more functionality than OO.

I was going to ask you where did you see that functionality.

I see clearly what you are looking for. So, I think it is not possible, now.

It’s possible to see parents of matched rows, using a Saved Filter, but then its children aren’t visible.

When I used Ecco, every project I was involved in had its own outline. The top-level items were for major aspects of the project. Notes were add as second (and further) level items. Columns had entries such as personnel or departments or geographical areas or priorities, or whatever. If I wanted to see what notes I had for certain departments or areas, or combinations thereof, I could filter for those and get the items PLUS their parent and child items. That context was crucial. If a search result showed me just an item that says “Get schedule”, or “Does the weather affect this?”, but doesn’t show me what that item belongs to, I have no idea what it means Similarly, without the child items, a filter doesn’t show me everything I need to see about that issue. If I filter for a certain employee, I’d get the items with that employees name in the column, but when I call them to discuss the open items, I don’t see the supporting info in the next-level items.

So if a filtered result doesn’t show parent AND child items, it’s not nearly as useful as it could be. Believe me, I used Ecco outlines - with this functionality - for everything. It was indispensable. OO is good, but it doesn’t come close to what it can be. And the frustrating thing is this ability is present in OmniFocus. Perspectives show parent and child items. All OG needs to do is extend that capability into OO and its uses would be tremendously increased.

This is a big issue for me.

I’d like to use OmniOutliner for film production. Here’s a breakdown of the first 5 scenes from a movie, with some made-up notes and questions for different departments.

If I were meeting with the camera department, and wanted to discuss my notes with them, I would filter for just those items that have the /cam tag in the Department column.


It looks good, but notice that while the 3rd-level items tagged /cam are there, the 4th-level items that BELONG to those 3rd-level items are not. If I wanted those to show up, I’d have to tag them as well. That’s a lot of wasted effort, given how many sub-items there would be in a real breakdown. So my workaround here would be to never have any item below 3rd level. Not a great use of an outliner.

Now, let’s say we were having a meeting about just the scenes we’re shooting on stage, and I filtered for those items that have Stage in the location column.

Only the 1st-level items - the names of the scenes - show up, because they’re the ones tagged with “Stage”. But all the items that belong to those scenes don’t appear, because Omni won’t show the children of filtered items. So none of my notes and questions about those scenes show up, rendering this filter useless. The workaround would be to tag every item at every level under each scene with the location - a lot of extra work - but then, the filtered result would have every item as a 1st-level item; there’d be no indentation.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. OmniOutliner is almost a great tool for managing a complex project like this … but the inability to show descendants as well as ancestors of filtered items makes it far less usable.

@rob, that is a very convincing example! For my far simpler purposes I often prefer the filter feature as it is, but it should definitely be possible to have it work your way. And it seems so natural to at least have a choice in the settings dialogue box for the individual filter: ”Include group hierarchy containing all lower level rows”. Now I start to miss this feature myself…

I strongly recommend you to send an e-mail to The Omni Group Support suggesting how you would like this to work, including your excellent example!

Thanks. Just emailed it to them. As noted in an earlier post, this approach could work for managing all kinds of projects. All it needs is one tweak: let filters show descendants as well as ancestors. And, as noted previously, this is done in Omnifocus … I have to believe it can be done in Omnioutliner as well.