Tim, Scotty, and Mark,
The one thing that I do NOT want is a system that requires fiddling or incessant input into a variety of categories - unless the ‘output’ far outweighs the overhead of ‘input’.
I’ll explain in the hope that it will help others.
Here’s my story (some of which is off topic, but does relate to Omni software):
Recognizing that I some sort of electronic approach to a ToDo list could bring benefits, decades ago I built a fairly sophisticated FileMaker Pro solution. Constantly updated, this worked well, as far as it went, and had the advantage of linkage with my Memo/Address/Proposal files, also built with FileMaker Pro; I’ve been using these for more than 20 years. Importantly, by using FileMaker Pro I can tinker under the hood.
But I realized, especially lately, that to get some features I could really use, including better calendar management, I’d need to invest more time in my own home-brew solutions than I was willing to spend.
This would require quite a bit of under the hood programming and scripting. More time intensive would be the thinking about how such a program should work, and how I could interact with it. These are complicated subjects that are well understood by professionals. I am more like a dilettante.
So, I started looking around, first at simple lists for iOS (I liked Gruber’s approach, limited as it was). I quickly realized I needed a seamless, multi-platform solution.
I have always admired OmniGroup - the look of the Omni apps, the attitude on the website, the straightforward approach - but I also recognized that it’s an entire ecosystem that wouldn’t play well with my FileMaker Pro system, so have stayed away.
OTOH, syncing my FileMaker Pro files (desktop/ iOS) is decidedly a PITA- FileMaker Pro has not solved this problem in any useful way. It was the offer of free, seamless syncing from Omni that made me look more closely.
At the same time, I was looking for two other pieces of software that Omni also publishes: an outliner and a project manager. I’ve been using Scrivener for my book on tropical plants, and wondered if a dedicated outliner could help get me over the doldrums. But the more I looked at OO, and the more I looked at Scrivener’s abilities, I realized I’m better off staying with Scrivener.
I also landed some very complicated projects. Landscape architects are designers, not contractors (think architecture), with all of the attendant issues of data collection and design development, along with resource management. I hadn’t used a project manager since MacProject, the main problem of which was the inability to assign multiple tasks to the same resource.
But then I realized that, at least on a ‘first cut’ level, OmniFocus can answer some of the questions that OP addresses; and it does this, at least in part, through Contexts. So for now I’ve put OP aside, decided to go forward with OF.
One thing I’ve learned over 30+ years of design practice and with using computers is that it takes time to shake things out, and new apps are no exceptions. I expect to ‘grow into’ the ‘Context’ concept, at some point. My main issue is mental: using OF where I would have depended on Calendar.
That’s it, except for this: As a designer I would love to have been part of the OmniGroup’s design discussions regarding Contexts; to hear the idea proposed, debated, ideas for use given and debated. Design is all about process.