Using text color to indicate task status


First, thank you for a response here. I do appreciate it and I hope you can appreciate my comment and response.

Second, I would like to express my thoughts on this issue as it relates to the checkbox being the sole communicator of various status conditions for tasks. I see the placement of the checkbox echoes the design “branding” of the OF2 app for the iPhone — I get the need for coordination of interface style between the various application and that Omni Group has been criticized for “out of sync” interfaces by many users. To this end, I can accept and work with right-hand checkboxes to communicate unity across devices. The point I have expressed above in this thread is with the right-hand checkboxes, their distance from the task title AND the role they have taken on in OF2 vs OF1 on the Mac. Quite simply I am unable to easily view a list of tasks without tracking completely across the interface window to identify due soon and overdue items. OF1 would use text color to indicate these states and I believe such a similar solution can work in OF2 for the Mac while retaining your new coordinated look.

Let me offer an example:

I have a main perspective from OF1 which shows only flagged and due tasks—ungrouped and sorted by context—from my entire database. While flagged indicators are on the right-hand side I rarely used them as this element is only used to bring tasks into this particular perspective. In this scenario I have a list sorted by context and due tasks sprinkled throughout. In OF1 I can quickly identify tasks with upcoming or overdue status. In OF2 I now need to scan my checkboxes, then if any are due soon or overdue, track back across to see if their project or context are something I can reasonably do now or wait. Scanning checkboxes opposed to reading task titles and immediately seeing due status feels backwards to gain this particular status information. The opposite process is worse in my workflow, scanning a list of similarly colored items and worrying if I have missed something which is due for lack of distinguishing interface elements on the left-hand side is slowing my usual workflow from OF1.

I know not all scenarios can be addressed, but implementing text color as an additional indicator for a task’s status on OF2 for Mac does not break your right-hand checkbox design and addresses some of the issues on this thread. I am requesting not having the indicator for a task’s status be dependent only on one element which happens to be opposite the task title — or as you say “moving everything to the same side of the outline is not a great way to do that” and I would presume this means key status indicators as well.

– EDIT –

Here is a visual example of what I am proposing. It is immediately apparent one task is overdue and three are due soon without looking at the checkbox.

– EDIT –

Let compare my proposal with checkbox only indication of due status. It is more difficult to determine due status of the same tasks from the example above.


Thanks for the suggestion! I expect this approach would be easy to implement using a custom theme.

(Before someone asks: custom themes aren’t supported in the current release, but we’re hoping to add support for them soon.)


Thanks Ken - that will make a BIG difference for me.

When you say ‘custom themes’, do you mean the mimicking what OF1 could do, the ability to highly customize the UI in terms of fonts, colors, sizes, etc…? That’s one of the first things I looked for, just switched over today. Will definitely make a big difference in usability for me if so.


@rmathes Yes, that’s the sort of thing we mean. At this point the only customization OmniFocus has right now is the text size slider in Preferences > General.
As you read these forums, you’ll see lots of conversation about how much other people miss those styling options, and which parts of them really need to be brought back. (Exactly which parts we bring back depends on some technical situations, but also what’s most useful to you.)

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I’m looking forward to themes returning in the near future, but I can definitely trade them for what OF2 offers vs OF1. I’m sure many of us are excited to see how OF2 evolves over the next couple of years.


lizard, thanks.

In my opinion, the ability to customize how different data elements are rendered is critically important given the decisions you guys made with respect to data density. Right now, OF2 is simply more visual work for me to interact with my task lists, and I find that unfortunate. In my opinion, you guys made a bad decision to try to marry the UI of this app up with the ios version, and in making congruence there a high priority you sacrificed usability of this app. That, in my mind, was a poor decision I wish you had not taken. I did read that data density should improve as the product moves towards production readiness, but simply put, I hate that my task information is now no longer displayed on one line. Just hate it.

So, if that’s going to simply be the way it’s going to be, then it’s more critical than ever that I have the ability to fine tune the UI to try to compensate for this design decision. Hopefully you will give us enough options with respect to font types/colors/sizes and background colors that it will overcome this data layout paradigm.

One thing I’d REALLY love to get is the ability to specify background colors and then have the background color alternate from task to task. So, for example, I could create a white background color and then just the lightest shade of grey as another, and then have them alternate task by task so I could more easily see all of one task at a time. it would “group” both lines of the task together so that visually it was easier to distinguish one task from the next.

By displaying tasks as multiple line data sets with poor data density AND not giving us any ability to customize how data is displayed, in my opinion you greatly reduced the visual usability of this application. At least for me, and to the point where I simply do not enjoy using this app.