How can the data density be improved? [OmniFocus 2.3 added custom columns layout]

Thanks for this feedback! I have some good news, which is that the row layout you see in the test release isn’t done yet, and it should get quite a bit denser by default by the time we reach the final release. :D


It’s fantastic to see so many people who are as passionate as I am regarding data density in the UX of a productivity app.

Replying to @James – it should be reduced as the default option, as I understand the justification behind the current version (aesthetics, mainly). However, for those (basically us) who desire a higher data density, there definitely should be an option to do so (just like the text size option in the Preferences).

@wvh: Thanks for the update. I suppose uninstalling OmniFocus 2 immediately after my discovery was quite a dramatic move, but productivity and workflows is something I’m very, very passionate about. I’m quite thankful to those at OmniGroup (and DEVONtechnologies, and more) for delivering tools of such high calibre.

Looking forward to seeing more on this in the near future.

Nevertheless – more discussion on this front should continue and is welcomed.

@savantier - I completely agree. With OF2, I feel as if I can’t get decent picture of my projects. It’s very off-putting and there doesn’t seem to be any way to improve it. I’m going to keep at OF2, though, in the hopes that it will change before the final release.

Wow… I don’t know if I necessarily want all of my projects to fit on one screen. When I do a review, I usually like to select projects one at a time to bring up the tasks in the middle pane. It helps to break up my entire projects list into bite-sized chunks. I wouldn’t want to continuously scroll. I’d go dizzy if I had to look at an endless list of tasks.

Ditto, can’t see enough tasks in a given window.

i’m with @wilsonng on this - i like to focus in on items as i’m dealing with them, rather than having overwhelmingly long lists of things on the screen at the same time. i love the white space in the new OF, but i have no objection to high density data views being available to those who want them. i definitely think options will be the way to go on this.

there have been several references to the white space being a matter of aesthetics, but it’s not simply about ‘eye candy’, the white space helps me see things separately , helps me focus. i would hate to lose that, which is why i’m in favour of options

Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

Thing is, some people like to have a ‘grand’ overview of the entire event (not necessarily in the review section, but in the main Project/Context section), and the purpose of OmniFocus is to facilitate this sort of purpose.

I’ve got a similar problem with the iPhone app as well – nested apps don’t work well at well (the iPad app is an example of how it can function on mobile), as I have to endlessly tap through to go through the various nests, hence destroying the whole ‘grand overview’ experience that a productivity app is supposed to provide.

Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

I think for those who seek higher data density, the current white space seems somewhat arbitrary and unnecessary (taking aesthetics considerations aside).

I definitely do agree with it being the default option though, with higher data density (again, looking to Gmail for inspiration) in the Preferences.

that’s true. It is nice to see a grand overview. I think I do like the ability to collapse and expand the outline so that I can see as much or as little as I want to see. Long lists just drain me like an energy vampire.

I also don’t think anything looks good on an iPhone screen. I never do any grand vision planning on an iPhone. Grand vision planning usually on an iPad or a Mac.

Personally I only use the iPhone version for quick capture and very occasionally checking items in a location based context. I use the iPad for my weekly coffee-shop review, but 90% of the ‘real’ work is on the Mac.

Add my vote for a compact list. There is way too much white space.

I also miss the option to include project, context and dates on the same line as the title.



I’m loving the OF lifestyle, but respectfully, layout of v2 is unuseable for me as is.

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I agreed, at first the data density seems to be an issue. I did try ‘todoist’ last week and the same issue kept me with my beloved Omnifocus. However, do remember Omnifocus is about ‘focus’ and the use of perspectives is very important to give focus. We really should be working with pages and pages of tasks at a time, if so, a relook at perspectives and available actions is needed. That said, I’m still not 100% sold on losing the columns layout for project / contexts. Will keep giving it a go though.

I like in the new layout that you can get a narrower window without having to fiddle with switching off different columns.


With all the discussion here of the need for more ‘density’, I thought it might be useful for users to share examples of how they are currently using OF1. I wanted to illustrate how much info I need in my OF window for it to be useful to me. Omni Group folks - Please don’t take away my ability to do this!!!

Upload yours too!


Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

Fantastic idea. As seen, I rely on quite a lot on nested tasks – sometimes up to four layers. Data density definitely is of crucial important in my workflow.

And… uh, never mind about all the red.

Agreed. But even if I have notes, I don’t want such a strong visual distractor there. My initial impression is that the visual hierarchy is a little confusing. Font sizes, weights, and colors don’t offer enough distinction for me. This is part of the “data density” issue we are seeing.

What if we were able to hide the notes / deferred row? I rarely need it when I’m just getting stuff done.


Its going back to the old ‘which columns do I show’ - do you need a context column when in context view?

If you are viewing tasks, especially from a perspective, then why do you need to display the info that makes up that perspectives criteria? (generalising, I know, but the basic idea is right)

Yep, low density (and btw. default fonts) makes it close to unusable for me. What works on a small and narrow screen (iPhone) is unacceptable for me on 22". It’s not only density but the organization of elements. Let me show that on the screenshot, how I’d like to interact with it, and in comparison how I have to do it now.

The most important for me is going through tasks one by one and have them visually in “one line”. For example in the current design I spend unnecessary time in each task to skip its project or context, which I don’t need to read in 90% of cases. And also completion circle is far too far from the task itself when the window is wider than the narrowest possible. Don’t to mention full-screen.


Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

I’ve had a look and I’d like to disagree. In my opinion, there isn’t really an issue with the ‘+ Note + Context’ as it’s a placeholder for actual notes and contexts. If you add in a context then it’ll be there.

It’s just the gap between the text of the task and the placeholder (and ‘defer date + due date’) that should decrease, in a higher data dense option.

Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

I understand where you’re coming from. The checkboxes in the current OmniFocus (1) is on the left, as was the old pre-Mavericks/2013 build.

I presume that they’ve moved it to the right purely to follow how OmniFocus 2 on iOS works (on the right, as most people use the iPhone with their right hand, in which case the thumb is best suited to tap on the right (while not obscuring the text of the task).).

I have to say that for a desktop app though, it definitely is quite strange, as most other productivity apps (as does OmniFocus (1)) have the checkboxes on the left.

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Continuing the discussion from Overall, how are you liking OmniFocus 2 relative to OmniFocus 1?:

Abackstrom’s post is also quite interesting as well.