Omni Roadmap 2021> Wishes?

I just want nested projects and tasks in OmniFocus to be usable on iPad and iPhone, preferably without giving up a bunch of other functionality in the process. Every time Omni does a major UI refactor, it seems like they drop a bunch of features.


You might be new around here. :-)

This was exactly what I expect and get every year. To get more precise at this stage is unreasonable and bound to be inaccurate. I want the broad sweep of where Omni Group is going, even though that is hostage to what Apple reveal at eg WWDC.


I didn’t enjoy the roadmap either, which does not mean I know how to make it better.

I am computer literate but not IT professional. Actually an engineer, so I like some complexity. I use OF to get peace of mind and control in my personal life, through task management, mainly for the day to day ‘run your life’ type of protocols and iterative activities. Not so much for the ‘big projects’, which I find difficult to setup in OF in a meaningful workflow. I practice GTD as my main workflow.

In a nutshell, I feel like OF is targeting different customer profiles than mine for the future making it more difficult for the likes of me.

I’ve seen several comments from smart reviewers which first acknowledge the superiority of OF among other task managers and then recommend a simpler one

unless you want to invest so much time in the tool


So, looking at the roadmap I wonder which is the target customer for OF? An IT professional to automate workflows ? A team of professional who share projects and goals? An individual with just basic computer skills and a will to be productive? A Mac user or a multiplatform user?

All of the above

  • is usually not a good strategy unless you are very very big. And looking at the roadmaps, it seems that just keeping up with the new apple releases already takes a big chunk of the programming capacity for the year. Tough problems, no doubt.
  1. I guess OF is a mature product by now, and probably the more complex and feature-full task manager around. I love it because of that!. And for an individual productivity practitioner like me, it may already have more than needed at the peril of requiring too much time if it keeps getting more complex.

So being selfish, I would rather like OF invest in easier user interface to make easier worklows with the functionalities it already has than expanding in new automation and collaboration functionalities. For instance, a built in template functionality rather than scripts to interface with third apps. Same with subprojects. Nice and self contained (except for the calendar and documentation repositories)

2 Automation is not for all users. Requires expert knowledge, even just to install and debug ‘off the shelf’ scripts, keep with changes in the interfacing apps, apps I may or may not want to use. Except for Siri shortcuts, which comes ‘out of the box’ with myiphone, I don’t want to further complicate my setup. So maybe I would keep automation limited to Omni apps and out of the box Mac apps and forget about others.

3.- Also, collaboration in a team is to me a completely different animal, where you compete with other types of corporate tools and user requirements. ¿Is really OF really willing to compete in the collaboration tools space? A simple one step collaboration workflow will not make team users happy, I don´t think, since there area so many sophisticated collaboration suites available.

Just my own feelings and my best wishes for the great OF team. I appreciate the quality and compromise the software shows.

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Nested projects (i.e. real “subprojects”, not just action groups)


Man, you hit the nail on the head. It occurred to me while reading your post that I don’t know who I would actually recommend OmniFocus to. Coworkers who ask for advice about a task manager present a really difficult decision matrix — the scientists who I work with generally need some degree of collaboration, programmers and engineers need much better hierarchical task structuring (and features like roll-ups and better dependency management would help), team leads need an entirely different set of tools which OmniFocus really doesn’t have at all.

Most importantly, my coworkers are busy with their actual jobs — pretty much every NASA project I’ve ever heard of is underfunded relative to the amount of work that needs to be done. Nobody has time to spend a bunch of effort learning a new tool AND customizing it for their particular workflows. OmniFocus has a lot of capabilities, but I do think it’s become much less open over the years in terms of how you use those capabilities, especially on mobile devices.

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Thanks for all the feedback, everyone!

This sounds like the sort of thing I talked about in this paragraph of the roadmap:

You’ve mentioned a particular solution (a trash bin), but let’s take a step back to think about the actual problem you’re encountering. Why are accidental deletions of OmniFocus items so common that this is your biggest concern with the app? You’ve specifically mentioned this in the context of multiple screens, so presumably it’s that it’s easy to not realize where your keyboard is focused—and you can easily delete a task from the wrong window with a single keystroke. But surely it would be better to stop those accidental deletes before they happen, rather than relying on your noticing that something is missing and trying to find it in the trash to bring it back? (After all, if you notice right away you can already use Undo. And if you notice later, you can already find and grab them from a daily backup.) So, rather than adding a trash, perhaps a better solution would be to add an option to confirm deletes with some sort of prompt? Or perhaps to rebind the delete action to Command-Delete rather than a bare Delete keystroke, so it’s harder to accidentally invoke?

As noted in the roadmap, we’re implementing full keyboard support in our new iPad outline views:

I should note that all three of those options are available in the app today, though they’re slightly platform-dependent. On iOS, the contextual menu for an item includes your custom scripts; on Mac, you can customize the toolbar to include your own scripts; and on both Mac and iOS, you can assign keyboard shortcuts to your scripts to invoke them with a single keystroke.

We love OmniOutliner, and would love to develop it at a faster pace—but we can’t afford to do everything we’d like to do each year. We’re an employee-owned company with no outside investors, so our work is funded from sales of our apps. We think everyone can benefit from an outliner, which is why we created the Essentials edition—but though it’s our least expensive app, it sells fewer copies than our most expensive app (OmniPlan).

So I’m sorry that we haven’t yet implemented the features that you’re looking for. But I hope you’ll recognize that we’ve put quite a lot of effort into OmniOutliner over the years, especially considering the resources we have available! It’s true that not every year will have as many improvements as when we shipped OmniOutliner 5—which introduced filters, document stats, distraction-free mode, side margins, cell highlight, research searching, touch bar support, dark mode, typewriter mode, a new file format, encryption, customizable keyboard shortcuts, side margins, multiple-row focus, and more. But since then we’ve also brought all those features to iOS, added searchable inline reference manuals, implemented Siri Shortcuts, added support for multiple windows on iPad, implemented first-class support for syncing over iCloud Drive, Scribble support for Apple Pencil, thumbnail previews, and cross-platform support for user scripts and plug-ins. Alongside all that work, we’ve also updated the Mac app to support High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur, and M1-powered Macs.

As I mentioned in the roadmap, the primary focus of all our teams right now is redesigning and rebuilding our apps based on the latest technologies and what we’ve learned over the years. As part of this work, we’re completely rebuilding our inspectors—not just the content area of the app. (Though rebuilding that area is also very important, as we see in this next comment.)

I think you’ll find nested projects and tasks to be much more usable with the new outline I mentioned in the roadmap, with its support for inline editing and collapsing/expanding groups at any level of nesting.

That’s the sort of work I was alluding to in this paragraph of the roadmap—particularly the last sentence:

You’re absolutely right, team leads need an entirely different set of tools than what OmniFocus provides. Have you looked at OmniPlan? It supports roll-ups, task dependencies, resource scheduling, and beyond its outline presentation it also has full support for viewing and editing a project in a timeline Gantt chart view or as a network diagram (based on dependency relationships). It can integrate with external calendars (both reading and publishing), and supports full collaboration with other OmniPlan users. It supports scripting and automation to let it integrate with other systems, and is a mature product (developed years before OmniFocus) which is trusted by many businesses (including multiple Fortune 5 companies) as well as government and educational institutions.

The OmniFocus view of a project is from an individual collaborator’s point of view, where our customers typically don’t need anywhere near that level of control or complexity at the project level. Where its power comes into play is with managing concerns across many projects, with tools for capturing and categorizing that work so that a collaborator can focus on the work which is available to them at a particular moment rather than being distracted with long lists of items that aren’t yet available for them to do.

OmniFocus and OmniPlan have complementary strengths, and customers have long been asking for richer integration between the two apps. Some of that is possible now, using Omni Automation, but it’s not nearly as easy to set up and use as we’d like it to be. Building that integration is part of our vision for collaboration in OmniFocus—though obviously we also want customers to be able to collaborate directly between OmniFocus instances for projects which are simple enough to not require OmniPlan. But for projects which do need that depth, we have a tool which serves that need (and already supports collaboration).


That would be great @kcase, thanks for highlighting !

2 posts were split to a new topic: Thanks for 3.11.4! Any chance of squashing this bug with pasted URLs?

I do already have a license for OmniPlan, but the considerable price of the product means that it’s not easy to recommend unless someone actually needs to do project planning. It just so happens that I fall into the narrow band of JPLers who does need to do project planning but doesn’t have a dedicated project scheduler (which is generally a specialized role) to utilize. OmniPlan is not good as a task management system, and most technical staff need task management, not project planning. Also, while OP has integration with external calendars, that support does not appear to extend to Microsoft Exchange, which is still the default for all NASA facilities.

I don’t understand the claim that OF’s “power comes into play with managing concerns across many projects”. That isn’t true for me at all, since the device that I primarily use for task management during the day is an iPad, and there is no solution for hierarchically structured efforts that works at all on the iPad. The best that I could come up with would be to either use tags or folder structures and create an associated perspective for the level of focus I need with each. That’s pretty unwieldy, and considering I generate new projects on a near-daily basis, it’s not worth the time investment. As a result of that, OF totally fails at allowing me to focus on the work that’s available at a given moment.

Many of the people I work with likewise have a wide variety of concurrent projects with shifting priorities (spaceflight aint easy!). It is unfortunately common for an emergency to come up that preempts all of the planned tasks and makes everything need to move out by days. OF gets pretty hard to manage when you have a couple dozen projects that need to be reviewed on a near-daily basis. Why aren’t there perspective options for filtering by time (both relative and absolute)? I imagine that if I spent enough time writing javascript I could come up with a way to do that, but I’m generally too busy writing mission-critical stuff to be able to devote time to fun automation work. In theory, that’s why I pay so much money to Omni.

Just to make sure I’m understanding, do you think these hierarchical issues are addressed by the capabilities of the Mac app because its outline is more flexible? I’m hopeful that bringing those capabilities to iPad and iPhone (as noted in the roadmap) will address this issue.

The capabilities of custom perspectives have been evolving over time. The initial implementation in version 1.x simply let you record the settings from your current view, which included some filter settings such as only showing items based on their “due soon” or “flagged” state. The next big leap for custom perspectives was in version 3, when we converted each of those filtering options into independent rules that could be combined using set logic primitives (union, intersection, and complement). This flexibility opened the door to much more tailored perspectives made through those rule combinations—but the rule primitives themselves were largely untouched, with our primary goal being to ensure that we had one-to-one coverage of everything which was possible in the previous perspectives (but knowing that these primitives could now be combined in much more flexible ways).

So that’s why things are as they are now—but as we look ahead to new types of perspectives, we most certainly do want to add support for richer time-based primitives, both relative (“due within the next [n] days”) and absolute (“due before [deadline date]”) and applicable to all time-based fields (e.g. “completed this month” or “added this month” or “deferred until next week”). I will note that this will require some fundamental database architecture changes to support these new date-based queries that weren’t possible before.

We’ve invested a lot of effort implementing automation capabilities so that customers can go beyond the built-in feature set when their particular needs drive them to do so. There’s a lot of utility there, and I’m glad we’ve shipped that support. But we also enjoy extending our built-in features in ways that give our customers more flexibility and power while also making it easier for them to tailor the app to meet their needs—such as the richer time-based perspective rules described above.


I do think that the outline view on the Mac makes some of this easier to manage, because instead of having dozens of different projects (which is what I have to use now), I can use nested action groups and it’s much easier to make entire classes of activities effectively disappear from view when necessary. What would really help is if there’s a way to optionally propagate changes made to a parent item to all children. I could see either something like a cmd- or option- click on the OK button that indicates that the change should be propagated (which I suppose could be implemented the same way on an iPad with a Smart Keyboard, or perhaps a two-finger press on Done) or a field in the inspector that controls said behavior.

Thank you @kcase for looping back.

thank you @kcase for taking the time to answer.

… and talking about keyboard shortcuts, could we please have a possibility to turn off, or at least change, the keyboard shortcut space for completing a task? I have multiple times only the last few days completed tasks by mistake, as I have continued to type after that Omnifocus for some reason have left the editing mode (something that now seems to happen much more often than before). When I’m aware of this happening, I can quickly undo it, but it has also happened that I much later realized that an important task wasn’t there, and finally found it marked as completed (which I certainly hadn’t done consciously).

By the way, a different shortcut for deleting a task isn’t a replacement for a trash bin to me. Even when I delete tasks deliberately, I sometimes realize that I shouldn’t have. If I’m lucky and patient enough to find the right backup, I might find it there. If I deleted the task before it reached a backup, or before the latest notes in it did, I won’t find what I need in any backup file. A trash bin, something that is common in other task managers, would feel much safer, and would also be more convenient.

Dear @kcase, thank you very much for giving attention to the issue of accidentially deleting tasks on a dual screen setup!

The suggested way is totally fine for me for now:

“So, rather than adding a trash, perhaps a better solution would be to add an option to confirm deletes with some sort of prompt? Or perhaps to rebind the delete action to Command-Delete rather than a bare Delete keystroke, so it’s harder to accidentally invoke?”

I just want this etxra step of security before deleting. So a “command-delete” with a prompt to delete would be so great and would solve all my dual/triple screen deleting problems once and for all. I am noit lying that I directly (yes I quit omnifocus) everytime after using in order to prevent the mistake.

If this option comes my Omnfocus can be on all the time, thus I would even use it more. If you look to the forum this demand for this option has been demanded for more than 5 years now.

If the prompt to delete AND the command-delete comes, I dont really need the trash bin anymore. Thank you very much for paying attention to your long time users and the forum.

I hope it can be realized once and for all and I can feel more safe using this great software.

My preference would be command-delete to delete a task plus a trash bin. These address different use cases for me. I can see others preferring a delete confirmation prompt. From a UI perspective I would implement all three, and give users a choice via preferences.

For me command-delete solves the accidental delete issue. However, there are times when I delete an action or project, and then change my mind in the days or week after. A trash system would solve that issue.


Implementing all three options via preferences as additional function (command-delete; prompt; trash bin) would be a dream. And I would activate all three if I would have the option.

Why? Because my Ideas are so crucially important to me.

Regarding the debate about accidental deletions, adding a trashbin, and/or changing the keyboard binding of the delete key…

Personally, I would like the ability to right-click and “Lock” any container object in OmniFocus. I have a top-level structure that doesn’t change much. Accidentally deleting or spacebar’ing something to completion can have major consequences in my system.

The ability to make a container object non-deletable would adequately solve my problem. Thank you.

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How about a built in system for dealing with tasks that are dependent on an action by an external entity, like a reply to an email or waiting for more information. It seems many people have had to engineer their own solutions for this, but from what I’ve seen it’s taking current capabilities and shoving square pegs into round holes (like creating a task that is not a task but indicates you are waiting on something)

Probably wasting my breath, but I’d really really really like to get some form of CalDAV back. I’ve had to move to 2Do.

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