A First Look at OmniFocus

02 July 2007 by Mathias Meyer

I’m a big fan of Kinkless GTD, or better yet, I was a big fan. Recently I got my invitation for the alpha program for the newest kid on the GTD tools block, OmniFocus, and now I don’t look back anymore.

After the last release of Kinkless, about a year ago, things got awfully quiet. I used Kinkless, because it integrated nicely with one of my favourite tools on the Mac, OmniOutliner, and because it was the best GTD implementation back then.

I’ve been using the OmniFocus Alpha version for almost four weeks now, and I’m quite happy I didn’t switch to another tool beforehand. Basically it’s the perfect combination of OmniOutliner’s advantages and the slickness of Kinkless, but without the explicit synchronisation. Kinkless consists of a couple of AppleScripts and basically needs to be run every now and then to fully work. That can get rather annoying, and when looking back, it took some of the easiness out of GTD.

OmniFocus to the rescue. Now everything happens when you tick off a task, create a new one, change dates, and so on.

The workflow is pretty simple. You have several ways to get new things into the system, into your inbox. There’s a QuickSilver action, a separate dialog to enter new tasks and the application itself. Creating, editing, navigating and solving tasks is done in the familiar style of OmniOutliner. It’s inheritance is recognisable in several places. And that’s the goodie about OmniFocus. If you already use OmniOutliner, you’ll find your way around immediately.

It’s a neat and simple tool, and that’s what I like about it, especially compared to feature-bloated tools like iGTD. The latter is an amazing piece of work, but I’m missing the focus on just the tasks which OmniFocus is built on. When it comes out, I’ll be one of their first customers for sure.

It’s finally easy to complete projects without them lurking around any longer, task disappear as soon as you completed them, you can filter your tasks, have folders, sub-projects, parallel-running tasks, and much more. I haven’t tried every aspect of OmniFocus, but the first impression is a very good and promising one.

Though it’s still labelled as an alpha, it works pretty well. It hasn’t crashed on me yet. Even if it would have, the crashes would be fixed pretty fast, I reckon, considering the number of builds that are available. The team cranks out four to five new builds every day, fixing bugs and adding new features. Of course, there are some issues on my personal list, but I’ll rather drop them an email than posting them here.

If you don't know what OmniFocus is about, Ethan Schoonover created an introduction movie about it.

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