Omni Group's Ken Case on OmniFocus 2 and the origins of the app

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Omni Group's Ken Case on OmniFocus 2 and the origins of the app

One of the true joys of attending Macworld is getting to talk to some of the best developers in the world. Among the best of the best in the Apple world is Ken Case, CEO of The Omni Group. Today the company officially announced OmniFocus 2, the next generation of its flagship task management / GTD (Getting Things Done) app. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ken to discuss the upgraded app and see it in action.

I was interested in finding out more about the history of OmniFocus, and Ken noted that the app was an outgrowth of users with OmniOutliner using it with a set of AppleScripts called "Kinkless GTD" by Ethan Schoonover. It made a rather good GTD tool, and added to Merlin Mann's efforts at proselytizing the Mac community to do GTD, the seeds of OmniFocus were planted. When The Omni Group decided to develop a dedicated GTD app, they invited Merlin and Ethan to come in and talk about their thoughts on what a Mac app should contain.

That first meeting expanded into a long series of two-hour conference calls with the pair to iron out the initial generation of the app. As Case noted, the design goal was to "make a GTD app that didn't require a degree to use." OmniFocus 2 is an outgrowth of the highly successful app and the iOS version that came later, building on the power of the initial app and the UI of the iOS version.

OmniFocus was a bit too intimidating for new users, and the reinvention of the app for iPad made it simpler tool to use. Some of the new features of OmniFocus 2 include a forecast mode, which gives users an idea of exactly what work is coming up in the near future and a UI that combines all navigation into one sidebar encompassing the project list, context list and the forecast view.

Of course, OmniFocus 2 can be synced to iPhone and iPad. The new OmniPresence service will be published as open source, allowing synchronization of documents and data through virtually any WebDAV server.

After the debut of OmniFocus 2 last night, Omni Group expects to go into a private test sometime this month with more than 10,000 people already signed up to give the app a try. After the private testing is complete, a "wide open" public test will gather further feedback. As Case mentioned, Omni Group will "ship no app before its time."

The app will come in two configurations: a US$39.99 Standard Edition and a $79.99 Pro Edition. The Pro edition adds the option of designing and building custom workflows (available in OmniFocus 1 now), and support Perspectives and AppleScript.

For more information, pop on over to Omni Group's blog and read the post from Ken Case unveiling OmniFocus 2 to the world.

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