OmniFocus 2 for Mac adds some cool features. The inspector sidebar and Quick Open seem especially nice. But it also includes a new layout that I think is a regression. I’ve been worried since last winter that OmniFocus 2 would ship with an iPad-style two-line design. It seems cluttered with icons and context names that get in the way when I’m scanning, while showing much less actual information in the same amount of space. (OmniOutliner 4 also reduced its data density, but it included options in the Pro version to tighten up the spacing.) The current OmniFocus beta, which is quite a shock to an OmniFocus 1 user, is actually the new and improved design:
In today’s most recent build (r207056), we’ve significantly reduced the amount of vertical whitespace in the main outline for actions and projects. OmniFocus 2 can now displays 65 rows in the same amount of space as it would previously use to display 48 rows—an increase of over 35%.
Ken Case says that Omni is listening, but the layout’s been this way since the first public screenshots—and presumably long before that internally. This is obviously not a high priority. The user interface is now frozen for the June release.
The new design also has the checkboxes on the right, like in iOS, but I don’t think this works as well with a wider window. The left sidebar with the project and context has a minimum width that’s about twice what it should be, wasting further space. They’ve also removed the features for customizing the fonts and styles and reduced the filtering and sorting options.
I consider OmniFocus 1.x to be one the best Mac apps ever, so it pains me to see it seemingly ruined by iOSification. It looks nice, but I don’t think it works well. Obviously, the developers are no dummies. Maybe they are right and this is what most people want.
Nevertheless, it puts fans of the old version in a bad position. Soon 1.x will no longer be supported. Someday it will stop syncing with the current iPhone version, or break in some other way. There’s no telling when or even if 2.x will match it. There are lots of competing apps, but I haven’t found any of them compelling.
Update (2014-05-20): Ken Case announces a work in progress:
If you’d prefer to see all of your task information laid out in one line (so it’s more vertically compact) and would prefer your status circles on the left, you can start experimenting with this now by opening this URL[…]
Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.