Upgrade Process

Still using OF Pro 2.12.4 (on 10.13.6); although I have paid for OF 3 Pro and have the dmg waiting…

Because it’s so important (isn’t it always; to everyone!), I don’t want to upgrade until I am sure of two things:

  1. Can I ‘restore’ all my OF data from a backup if I run into difficulties; if so, where is it; is it safe to do that, please?
  2. Is there a doc somewhere which outlines best practice for the upgrade from OF 2 to 3 on macOS; do I have a lot of work/tidying up, for instance, to ‘convert’ all my Contexts to Tags etc; or does the upgrade script do everything such that I can just launch afterwards, and go?


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If you don’t mind me asking, do you currently sync your OF data (be it to Omni‘s servers or to your own)?


Thanks; no - I appreciate your help!

I do synch, Yes; three ways. Using Omni Sync Server.

And rock solid synching is very important to me.

Between my iMac and a MacBook Pro each running 10.13.6 and also my iPhone 8 Plus running OF 2 on 12.0.1

Yes, just like in OmniFocus 2, backups of your database are made automatically. The backups are made in different locations for each version (by both version number and Mac App Store or Omni direct versions). The easiest way to get to them is using the File > Show Backups… menu command in OmniFocus.

Because you’re using the latest version of OmniFocus 2 for macOS, your database is completely compatible with OmniFocus 3, so you needn’t worry about incompatibilities between the two.

There’s actually not a lot to manage, fortunately. Presuming you’re syncing your database, you’ll start up OmniFocus 3 and set it to start syncing and your data will all be downloaded.

All your contexts will be called tags, but will work in essentially the same way. I found that I wanted to flatten the context hierarchies I had built in OmniFocus 2, but that’s not at all necessary.

The only thing that won’t come automatically is your Archive. However, the first time you run an archive from OmniFocus 3, it will prompt you to copy over your archive from OmniFocus 2.

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That’s exactly what I would recommend as well.

In fact, I am even running OF2 and OF3 alongside each other on macOS because I don’t feel comfortable yet to make the switch (that also means I can’t assign more than one tag to any single task since OF2 couldn’t handle more than one, but for now I’m fine with that).

Thanks so much for your helpful reply, Ryan!

Yes, I can see backups in the Application Support subdirectory of ~/Library/Containers.

Thanks for the re-assurance on (database) formats.

So am I right (unless Lars’ question (above) leads to a warning about synching between my three devices) that all I need to do is launch OF 3, once installed, and let it synch from the OmniServer?

And that the new installation of OF 3 will seamlessly - and utterly reliably - take care of the migration (e.g. from Contexts to Tags)?

I do rebuild my OF database regularly… am meticulous about back-ups, and protecting my data.


Thanks, Lars!

By the look of it, I really don’t have anything to worry about, do I?

I too have what I’d venture to call a fairly sophisticated hierarchy of Contexts now.

Happy to flatten and/or amend (= improve) that, if I see that it’s getting in the way.

Although I have looked long and hard at GTD over the years (decades?!), Contexts really are rather artificial for me.

I also expect to have to revisit every Item and check its settings in this regard.

I just can’t afford to have any kind of problem. Haven’t seen many reported here and have the greatest respect for Omni, and OF 3 has been being tested for many months, hasn’t it?

I’ve always found OF 2 rock solid.

Can the same really be said of OF 3?

Correct, and no, it wasn’t intended as a warning.

If you were to keep synching a copy of OF2 as well, it wouldn’t be able to display all the fancy new features of OF3 (like more advanced custom perspectives as well as multiple tags instead of contexts per item), but that should be about it (except for this one bug, but I don’t know how likely one is to encounter it, since I don’t yet use multiple tags per item myself). If you assign multiple tasks, the first one will show up as the context in OF2, the other ones will not be displayed.

I also have a very high standard in my data consistency and all, so I do run both versions alongside each other and don’t use multiple tags for now.
One could say I should just wait to upgrade, but I found it more important to already get used to the new interface.

After all, if you keep backups, all is well. I do, and I haven’t lost any OF data ever to this day.

The good news is that the migration from contexts to tags has already been done if you’ve upgraded your database to the newer format in OmniFocus 2.

For a long time I was syncing a soup of devices and copies of the software 2 and 3 for iOS on iPad and iPhone along with 2 on Mac and eventually 2 and 3 on Mac – I never had any problems between them.

I think so. There was one recent example of a nasty data-loss bug (fixed now in test builds) but most often bugs won’t affect your data.

Fortunately you practise good hygiene with your data, so even if a problem crops up, you’ve got a way out or around.

Thanks again, Lars! Very re-assuring :-)

That one bug you kindly draw my attention to seems to have been fixed in 3.1.3.

Ryan - your advice and help much appreciated. I think I’m really safe to go ahead. Maybe soft-pedal on multiple tags?

Assuming i did upgrade on my macOS installations, are there any known snags when it comes to upgrading on iOS accordingly, please?

I reckon you’re safe to go ahead and upgrade. Everything should keep working as you expect, just with new terminology.

But multiple tags, that’s a big question. I still use pretty much one tag, as a context, for everything. The only exception is really for the Forecast tag which, though I don’t actually use it in Forecast, is an excellent alternative to over-using flags for current objectives.

Once you start getting into making new custom perspectives, you may find you want to use multiple tags to make really narrow selections.

Not to my knowledge; iOS is quite stable at this point. One note, though: the Mac doesn’t yet support notifications so if you depend on those, you’ll definitely want an iOS device upgraded to 3.x.

And of course, Mark, you’re welcome!

Great! Thanks so much, Ryan. Really helpful :-)

Have just upgraded.

Wonderful stuff. Worked just (as well) as everyone said it would.

Like the new version - with one reservation - as much as everyone said I would.



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