Perspective Hierarchy

I’m making one of my periodic efforts to learn more about OmniFocus.

This, from the manual, is driving me nuts: “Project Hierarchy—There are two fundamental types of perspectives: those that rely on the project structure to display your database hierarchically, and those that eschew hierarchy in favor of grouping by other parameters. The grouping and sorting functions in Presentation will govern projects in the former case, and actions in the latter.”

I cannot make sense of it. I think examples that indicate the features and benefits of both settings are in order. What I’ve found, much to my frustration, is:

  1. I can either have perspectives that allow focus—which, at least to me, is critical—or perspectives that transfer iOS. I do not understand the reasoning behind this either-or limitation. Why iOS or Mac? Why can’t I focus any perspective?
  2. When a perspective is set to “Don’t user project hierarchy,” the items are, somewhat uselessly, simply displayed in a long laundry list; and unrelated contexts are display in the sidebar. Why would you want to have a list of contexts in which most selections result in no items being displayed? It seems unfinished, or a bug. Again, examples showing how this would be used would be really helpful.

I know that there have been requests for some time for transferring both perspective types to iOS. Is this coming soon-ish?

  1. The reason we implemented context perspectives before project perspectives on iOS was not a deliberate design choice (e.g. “We don’t think this is useful.”) but a technical one (i.e. “Because of unrelated reasons, we can implement context perspectives way faster than project ones.”). Project-based perspectives being available on iOS is definitely still on our list. (I can’t discuss whether it’s “soonish”.)

Thanks for the response! I’m still wondering, though, why both kinds of perspectives don’t support focus; and why perspectives that don’t use the project hierarchy display unrelated contexts.

I’m not sure I understand you there – I can focus in either mode in OmniFocus, by either entering the project to focus on into the “Focus” field under the perspective settings, or focusing manually.

I agree with your other point – you should be able to tell OmniFocus to only show you relevant contexts: those with tasks in them for the filters you’ve applied.

(PS. you mention that “Don’t use project hierarchy” gives you a long “laundry list”. That can be changed in the perspective settings – just group by whatever you want – project, context, etc.)