Frustrations with OF2


Yeap, we seemed to have turned on over-hyped and over-rated productivity system (gtd) and turned it into a geeky hobby.
But I can live with that…


Hahaha, you guys nailed it :-)

I use OF 2 on a daily basis but there are some bugs and shortcomings that drive me crazy. That’s why I’m giving “the competition” a(nother) try from time to time.

I do like Things and I’m looking forward to Things 3. Hope, that’s not going to be the “Stuttgart21” of GTD apps (too late, too small, too expensive) ;-)


I’m trying OF again after almost 2 years with Things. Reading the comments here helped me attach words to vague frustrations. You guys are clearly a lot deeper into this stuff than I am (and ever want to be).

First, I use OF / Things only to organize my personal life. It’s not a very complex life but it’s not simple either. My first use of OF lasted about 2 years. I felt that I had a relatively nice arrangement of projects and perspectives but I began to hate opening OF. I felt that I had two choices. With one choice I felt overwhelmingly nagged with items that were not that important; with the other choice I felt that I was blind to important items until they suddenly appeared and set me into panic mode.

With Things, I never felt that I had a good place to put new items. It provides no useful structuring. Over the two years, I slowly abandoned any attempt to structure anything. Every morning I faced a long, almost random, list of items. Things makes it very easy to push things ahead so I did that to most of them. New projects became daunting because my one entry said “Start X” Projects never got broken down into doable steps because I didn’t have a place to put the steps. And, of course, they often never got started.

So, when I heard about OF2, I downloaded the trial. Once I saw Forecast, I was sold. I found that OF1’s “Due” was the source of my biggest frustration. If I set “due soon” to a larger number, I was overwhelmed; the most overwhelming thing was all those screaming bubbles over on the left. If I set “due soon” to a small number, I was often suddenly surprised. A small programming change, I know, but a big change in the usefulness of the program.

Another minor change, with a big impact to me, was changing the word "Start to “Defer.” I never knew what “Start” was for. You’d all laugh if you saw what I did to make a new copy of an old task.

What most impressed me, after putting in a lot of time getting OF2 set up with my current projects and tasks, was that I could get that same database into OF1 and make comparisons between the two programs. Many software vendors would have made going back impossible.

So, I’ll stick with OF2 even though I actually prefer the look of OF1 because of Forecast. Paying the upgrade price for a feature that small is troublesome but the respect I now have for Omnigroup, because they did not block going back to OF1, makes it easier to take. You guys that are complaining because you feel you must go back should be happy that you can.


As I click “Reply” I have to chuckle a little bit, and I’ll tell you why in just a moment. First, a little background.

I beta tested OF1, provided feedback, and was very pleased with what ultimately was released. At that point in my life I was extremely busy and needed something to help me manage everything going on beyond just a calendar. I fell off the OmniFocus bandwagon when things settled down. I haven’t used OmniFocus in probably close to 5 years.

There’s a new storm brewing, and the other day I decided I needed something to help me manage. I purchased OF2 + Pro immediately, and dropped about 150 items into my Inbox.

At this point you’re probably thinking: “Alright, get to the point.” I’m getting there.

So, I read a couple of threads in brief about OF2 vs OF1. I sympathize with OmniGroup. It really doesn’t matter what you do. If you establish any kind of UI familiarity, even if it’s the bad kind, you will never hear the end of it from your users. I’ve been on the receiving end of this exchange many, many times.

If you’re reading this people of OmniGroup, please give me just one moment to try and change your mind about formatting…

I see what you’ve done with the UI here, and I’m generally very pleased. In almost every way I think it is a vast and obvious improvement over OF1. In fact, I think the crazy amount of formatting that you allowed in OF1 was well, crazy. I managed to make my OF1 window disgusting on several occasions, returning to the bosom of the defaults on more than one occasion, but there was one thing.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why I cannot reduce the font size in the Projects view. Well actually, I take that back. I can understand why a little bit. The type is good looking at the size you’ve locked in. If you start mucking with the font size in one pane, the other pane doesn’t compliment it quite as well, and then you start to wonder: well, if I could change it here, why can’t I change it there? So, being the smart folks you are: Kill it with fire. “You’ll have nice type, and you’ll like it.”

The following formatting change is just for a bit of comedic effect, but in closing:

So, the reason I was chuckling a little bit when I clicked the “Reply”

button is that I think whatever your reasons are for

dropping all formatting changes. I immediately hit `CMD +` to bump

my font size to something readable. In OF2 I feel

like the font size is imposing in the main pane, and I feel like:

"Whoa there OF2, I don’t need my neighbors across the

street to read my screen." Are you having a hard time

reading through this? Could you please just throw

us a bone with `CMD +/-`?


I found myself tweaking with the font styles in OF1 and forgot to do what I was supposed to be doing - getting things done.

Customisation is nice to a certain point. I often have my Samsung friends point out all the customisation features over the iPhone. But I remind them that I’m getting so much done, I don’t have time to be customising. I just get stuff done with my iPhone. The other day, my friend just burned a whole day adding custom ring tones to the people in his address book. I just thought that was such as waste of time. I have pretty much everyone set to one ring tone and my family set to a different ring tone. That’s pretty much all I needed. Customization is a nice feature but we do get carried away with it sometimes.

At first, I did miss having my own personal OmniFocus theme. But after a few months of OF2, I’m just concerned about checking tasks off my list and not so worried about how pretty things will look.


humm… Honestly, that was a little too long for me for something that is actually adressed in OF2 ;-)… Go to settings / General and drag the little slider in the direction of your preference- in single line mode your type then varies from

To this here:

Of course, also check out condensed mode and this collection of other tweaks… This should satisfy Your desire for modification to a certain point ;-)


It is an immensely difficult job to design an app that is both easy to use and powerful. Apple is masterful at it, we all know this, it’s why we buy Apple products (and OmniGroup products). I believe OmniGroup to be too. Just because OF2 doesn’t include x, y, or z feature doesn’t mean it’s bad. Design is design. Omni is not obligated to justify every design decision they make, it’s their product, and they’re a private company. If this is the way they think OF2 should be, by definition, that’s how it should be. That’s how this kind of relationship works.

Everyone here would have OG fall prey to design by committee. I’m not sure you folks understand what an absolutely awful idea it is to build a product based on consumer input. If you have to poll people for what features to put in you’ve already lost as a UX designer. The whole point of UX design is to anticipate the needs of the target audience and make the solutions available in as painless a way possible. Apple doesn’t even do focus groups, because they don’t have to. Neither does OmniGroup. They know what they’re doing, as evidenced by OF2’s massive popularity in the app store and its continued support from power users.


Not sure if I fully agree with everything you said. In fact I don’t agree with any of your statements.

I was one of this who contributed to what you mention to the OF2’s massive popularity and right now I am upset with myself for having done so. Will I still recommend the tool to some of my friends and relatives? I don’t think so.

And yes, I am deceived with the way OF has dropped feature “z”.

For me feature “z” was the capability to synchronize all my devices using Bonjour (cloud not being an option) and after upgrading I have nothing more than issues with the synching process. This morning lost 1h of weekly reviewed data… the worst thing is not the 1h lost is more where it leaves me now. Can I continue trusting the product and wait for the next time it happens?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of design by committee, quite the opposite. If I design a product, I focus in one user and design my product based on him. The only thing I am saying - I must have not been the OF target user.

And yes, I only signed up to post my complain about the new product.

Enjoy your OF2.


I think that Bonjour is going away as a legacy technology. Bonjour will be joining Firewire, SCSI, serial ports, and parallel ports in the Junkyard in the Sky.

I saw that Things 2.3 has deprecated Bonjour syncing as well in 2012.

…and a twitter question to ask whether Bonjour is returning in Things 3 also seems to show that Bonjour is six feet under.

I don’t think Bonjour plays a big part in other people’s lives. This is especially true in a world where I can’t get back to my local network just to sync my devices. It may take some time for me to get back to my local network at my office just to sync via Bonjour. Cloud seems to be the direction everybody is going.

If you’re worried about storing your OmniFocus data on the Omnigroup’s servers, you can always figure out how to set up your own WebDAV server and create your own cloud solution.

If you don’t want to learn how to set up your own cloud server, it is probably not an important feature “z” for you. When there’s a will, there’s a way.


jolux, I agree with your post if you look at new products. But this thread is about an update, and updates are generally expected to match or exceed their predecessor on all accounts. Few people here are asking for brand new features (design by committee), we just want Omni’s good ideas from OF 1 plus the good ideas from OF 2.


But that’s like asking a LaFerrari to have all the features of the Model T. Not everyone wants all those features because some of them made the product actually more difficult to use. Omni’s goal, as Apple’s, (or similarly) is to provide a product that can grow with the user. OF1’s design is opaque to say the least, and I suspect they had concerns that those not wishing to delve deep into a user manual their first time would not use OmniFocus at all.

OF2 is a different product than OF1. I’ve tried OF1 and I certainly know which I would choose. You have to remember that we’re dealing in the realm of Mac- and iPhone-only products, where less is more and legacy support is not considered to be the most important feature of any product. OmniFocus is not MS Word. Not only is it not supposed to be, but I’d even argue that it’s outside the scope of OmniGroup as a company.

If you never kill any features, feature creep is inevitable. Killing features and introducing new ones is how you keep your product fresh. Perhaps Omni has gone too far with OF2, but the satisfied customers with all levels of competency suggest otherwise.


That might be true, but they didn’t release any significant new features. There’s a reskin, but otherwise it’s a tremendous downgrade in functionality. Basic UI capabilities that have been around since the dawn of the GUI were eliminated. The ability to safeguard data through backups was removed. Information density was drastically reduced. I’ve just about resigned myself to running OF1 until it’s truly no longer compatible with OSX. I should be OK until Omni breaks backwards sync capability with the iOS apps, and iOS breaks the OF app, forcing an upgrade. Put it another way - can anyone name a new killer feature in OF2 that offsets the regressions and justify’s the upgrade? There’s been more than a few comments here asking for just that.

I raised the sync issue too - non-cloud sync is a critical feature (it amazes me how many companies don’t see that). But to be fair, Bonjour is problematic at best, buggy and unreliable at worst, and accounts for a significant support call volume. Fortunately, about the same time they pulled it, WebDAVNavigator was released in the Mac App Store. It’s now a moot point - the existing WebDAV sync features, plus that free app, solves the problem - and in a way that’s actually much more secure and reliable than the previous OF1 Bonjour option - that’s why I use it with OF1 now too.


It’s far more than a reskin…the entire UI is different and by association so is the UX. If you want to say it’s not because the core concepts are still there well then of course they are. It’s based off GTD, those are GTD core concepts. I don’t see any “basic UI capabilities” that are missing. Nearly everything is the same, except that OF2’s design is cleaner, more modern, and more intuitive.

I’m sitting here comparing OF1 and OF2 and I really can’t comprehend why you guys are so angry. Omni is not obligated to provide support for a product they no longer support. Software changes. This is a fact. This is why Windows XP is still so popular, because it’s familiar and people didn’t have to change their workflows much.

You will find many critics of Windows 7 that say it doesn’t introduce any new features aside from a reskin, and it breaks compatibility with all the stuff you could do in XP, and blah blah blah.

But the fact of the matter is, Windows 7 is undoubtedly better than XP.

Either move on to what’s supported or stop complaining about what isn’t, but please stop agonizing over how it’s not identical in every way to OF1.


Let’s see, how about resizable columns? Needlessly repeated text in the columns that breaks up workflow and takes extra space? The ability to change fonts, colors, and sizes? The combining of flags and checkboxes into one, and putting them on the right side (which causes significantly more eye and mouse movement than on the left), and the very large reduction in information density. That’s just a few. Put it a different way - I’d have many of those complaints about OF2 even if I hadn’t used OF1, and probably would never buy it because of them.

As far as GTD goes - OF’s changes prevent emergency scanning. That’s a GTD practice that’s not only not supported, it’s actively hostile to it. But the bigger issue is that GTD tells us to use tools that support our work without getting in the way or taking excess care and feeding. OF2 get’s in the way. OF1, because we can tune it, is seamless once configured. I’d be happy to have the ‘default’ UI change - fine (frankly I don’t care). But it went from ‘default’ to ‘only’.

But I agree - I’ve no right to demand that they fix OF1, nor do anything at all (we fought a war a while ago over the issue of work without pay). Our argument is that Omni has been snarky at best, and silent at worst. At this point we’d be happy with either a Yes or a No. With a no, then fine, we’ll take our business elsewhere. With a yes, but we can’t say when, then fine, we’ll be patient and wait - and use OF1 in the meantime. It’s a major upheaval to our lives, so we’re simply asking for common courtesy as longstanding customers to tell us that the direction of the product has changed, and we should look for another solution. Is that unreasonable?

This is much more akin to Windows 8 vs 7, than 7 vs xp. Win 7 fixed the core and didn’t break the UI. WIn 8 broke the entire UI paradigm, and adoption and sales have suffered as a result. Microsoft has been on a continual backtracking path since it’s release because of customer pushback. Under the covers Windows 8 is a better OS, but the reskin broke usability so much that customers simply didn’t upgrade - and the sales numbers show it.

And, I’ll note in passing, that the problem with Win 8 is that Microsoft forgot that a computer isn’t a tablet, and that the two need fundamentally different intefaces. Apple gets that too. Omni, well, seems to be following Redmond, not Cupertino.


My omnifocus window is not very wide so I don’t get the eye fatigue of traveling all the way over to the right.

If I have to do emergency scanning, it probably means I have a workflow issue or I haven’t been watching my task list.

At least we have the option of trying out the compact view until it gets fleshed out a bit more.


I don’t think you would have those complaints about OF2 had you not used OF1, because I don’t have them, and many OF1 users don’t have them either.

Windows 8 is actually unusable. Like, not poorly designed, but literally impossible to figure out. I would know, I’d been a Windows guy my whole life before switching to Mac last year. OF2 is so far from that it’s comical. Every version is perfectly designed for the device it runs on, and it’s one of the most obvious examples of platform-specific design I can think of.

I also think it’s prudent to remember that OmniGroup is a tiny 51 person company. They’re probably working vigorously on a version 2.1 that incorporates all this feedback as we speak. If you’ve ever worked at a 51 person company I think you know what I mean when I say they could be truly doing the best that they can on all fronts right now and it’s difficult for them to say.

Timelines in software are notoriously difficult. Anyone in software knows this. Nothing ever goes as expected. If they gave you a timeline and they ran past it you’d probably be even more furious.

If an independent software company releasing an update to one of their products that you don’t like is a major upheaval to your life, you need to rethink your perspective.


Sorry, did you just say nothing ever goes as expected or was it in some kind of context? It’s
amazing when you quote a piece of text out of context how you can give a completely different meaning
to the one that was intended. Unfair, and not in good taste.
His reference to the war thing had context and made perfect sense. Suggesting that he go elsewhere,
telling him the rethink his perspective and frankly sounding like a rothweiler, well I wonder who has
lost perspective!


jolux: I listed some more fetures that are mising, corrupted or just a step back in workflow previously. See below.

I can’t get some people here - there are OBVIOUS steps back (= such as non usable stalled perspective) in the usability and still there are people saying it is not a step back - I do understand not everyone did use all the features, but they are still present, just implemented worse than in OF1

Examples from above:

Stalled projects - filtering them and than trying to add a task causes that project disappears from the list right after enter is pressed (need to do this by workaround). This is basic feature - Every night or morning I need to check whether there are some stalled projects so I do not wait till Weekly review.

Switching project type - Now need to go to the inspector -> click dropdown -> choose type. Instead of just clicking the icon as in OF1 -> that basically caused I do not use this feature anymore.

Changing project status - again -> need to pick from dropdown instead of just clicking an icon.


I found out about compact view today in a blog post somewhere. That was my last main frustration with OmniFocus. It’s as close to perfect for my purposes as possible, short of me designing an application for my own use. That ain’t gonna happen. In general, this thread is a very depressing slog of ax grinding. So, I’ll go back to ignoring it and to getting things done. Thanks OmniFocus devs. It took a couple months and a couple revs, but I have a complete suite of software for my phone, tablet and computer.


A community member flagged a post in this thread - upon review, I agree that the post contains a personal attack. If the author edits the post to bring it in line with the community guidelines the post will automatically re-appear.

(Criticizing ideas is fine; criticizing people or discouraging them from participating in the conversation is not.)