Future development

Omnioutliner would be near perfect if it included
i. some form of conditional formatting
ii. formulas
iii. calendar integration
iv. possibly an online version
I could abandon my other task planners, databases and excel.

What do others think ?

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Well, 1 and 2 are really well outside of OmniOutliner’s wheelhouse. Conditional formatting and formulas are very much an integral of number crunchers, so they are inherent features in spreadsheet software, like Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers, and data analysis & visualization packages, such as SAS/JMP, Minitab or Tableau.

Number 3 is mostly there although you may not be aware of it. Most, if not all, software from The Omni Group support LinkBack; honestly, I can only speak to the feature being present in OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner, as I have no current use for OmniFocus or OmniPlan. Ironically, while LinkBack was created for Mac OS X (now macOS), Apple does not support the capability. Numbers, Pages, or Keynote use a proprietary linking and embedding technology.

Outside of software from The Omni Group, LinkBack support appears to be rather lean amongst the major players. The barely there website for the LinkBack Project lists the software that supports LinkBack, but it appears that the website has not been updated since 2014. As far as task planning goes, perhaps OmniFocus would be an option for you.

I am not a fan of online applications, but as far as Number 4 goes, to the best of my knowledge none of The Omni Group’s software have online versions. I have had “outlines” that bogged down in OmniOutliner despite not being that large in terms of file size, so having the overhead of network slowdowns added to that would be beyond frustrating. That stated… possibility… 🤷🏽‍♂️ anyone… anyone… Bueller?

While OmniOutliner is an extremely powerful tool that can be used for more than simply creating outlines (in the traditional sense), it is by no means a replacement for task planners, databases, or spreadsheet software.

I would like to simply be sure that OmniOutliner has a future as it exists right now. In the past I’ve become totally dependent on similar powerful outliners (as I am with OmniOutliner now) only to have them discontinued because of an inability to attract enough users. There are lots of things I’d love to see added, but OmniOutliner gets the outline metaphor right and incorporates reasonable sort procedures on top of that–those are my two key requirements.

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As a Canvas user, I feel your pain. Back in the 1990s, those of us that could not afford, and had no need for, the Adobe suite of graphics programs, Deneba’s Canvas was a godsend. Unlike Adobe’s products that were highly specialized—Photoshop for image editing and other bitmap work, Illustrator for vector-based drawings, and PagerMaker to bring it all together as a desktop publishing/pre-press tool—Canvas provided all that functionality in a single interface for, if I recall correctly, $500; at the time a license for Photoshop alone was about $600+.

Then in the late 1990s, Deneba was purchased by ACDsee Systems; a image cataloging developers that catered exclusively to Windows users. For those of us in the know—read: understanding that our favorite graphics app was in the hands of a company that put less than zero effort into developing Mac software—we were just waiting for the other shoe to drop. During the transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, ACDsee carbonized Canvas and released Canvas 8 in 2001. So far so good.

Then in 2006 when Apple transitioned to Intel processors, ACDsee opted no to use Universal Binaries to transition Canvas. So, after the release of Canvas X in 2005, which ironically was seemingly numbered as an homage to Mac OS X, ACDsee dropped Mac support and Canvas became a Windows-only application with the release of Canvas 11. To the dismay of Windows users, Canvas 11 no longer supported Adobe Photoshop plug-ins, which was a feature that not only made Canvas extensible, but enhanced the software beyond Photoshop because through the long-standing SpriteEffect technology, those plug-ins could be applied to vector objects and text just as readily as they were applied to bitmap objects.

As a result of ACDsee’s decision, there was a die-hard core of Canvas users that held onto PowerPC Macs for nearly a decade just for the purpose of having Canvas X available to them. The bright side of this story is that after a decade of hearing from a very vocal cadre of Mac users—we are good for that—ACDsee released Canvas Draw 1.0 in 2015; the long awaited return of a Mac version of Canvas. While Canvas Draw has quite a bit of catching up to do to have complete feature parity with its 27 year-old Windows sibling, having been rebuilt from the ground up, it incorporates some modern technologies that Canvas X 20xx—don’t ask—lacks, such as full support for Unicode.

The Omni Group is a former NeXT developer that transitioned to being a Mac OS X developer. While they may not be a Microsoft, which is probably a good thing, they are a major player for the Mac platform and dedicate 100% of their resources to us as Mac users. As noted here, OmniOutliner is perhaps the best outliner (actually structured document editor) for macOS or Windows, despite not being developed for the latter. So, we are probably safe for the foreseeable future.

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