An absolutely huge aspect of OmniFocus’ power derives from its perspectives. The built-in settings for contexts, projects, flagged, and otherwise are very useful. The Forecast and map views are crucial to some user’s workflows judging by various comments I’ve read. The Forecast view is exclusively available on the iPad and the map view is significantly more accessible due to the processing power and screen real estate over that of the iPhone. (Addendum 2011-03-01: CEO Ken Case recently tweeted that the Forecast view is planned for the iPhone.)
The ability to make one’s own perspectives and create key commands to go with them is a major strength of and contributor to the learning curve on the desktop. Perspective creation, alongside the myriad filter, selection, and focus options are exclusive to the desktop. Also, all adjustments may be saved for future use as a perspective.
Accessibility of perspectives changes depending upon one’s knowledge of the program in its various forms. At the beginning of the learning curve, the iPad is likely the easiest to use. Its direct display of the perspectives on the left presents an intuitive means of switching between perspectives. Later in the learning curve on the desktop one learns the ability to customize perspectives and assign key commands. These and the other multitude methods of accessing perspectives on the desktop provide a more flexible work flow to adapt to the individual user.
If you are facile with creating and using key commands to access perspectives, you will have many more customized perspectives readily available using the desktop. While the iPad’s left hand column lists perspectives including the star-selected perspectives one creates on the desktop, key commands on the desktop work from the power of one’s memory. When used, accessing key commands become a part of intrinsic memory and do not take up any “psychic RAM”. As such, learning key commands allows a much larger and even more accessible listing of perspectives.
Key commands are an exclusive and major factor in the interface of the desktop client. Learning these can make a significant, if not the entire, difference towards enjoying the desktop’s use.
When the iPad and desktop versions are used together, though, one gets the best of both worlds by being able to create context-based perspectives on the desktop and subsequently import them into the iPad.
Project Focus and Multi-Select of Projects
Entirely unique to the desktop client is project focus. While one can, in a sense, focus on a project on the iPad, one cannot then readily view that project’s tasks in their respective contexts to the exclusion of other projects. This could be useful when you wish to work on a large project or group of projects to the exclusion of others, but still want to view the tasks broken down into the individual contexts or assigned particular filters. Personally, I find this sort of workflow indispensable.
The only way one can make this happen on the iPad or iPhone is by designing a perspective on the desktop with the purpose of doing so. The desktop client would then need to be synced with the iPad or iPhone clients.
This situation again presents the power and finesse available to the desktop client which also contributes to its steeper learning curve.
To Be Continued …
In our next installment, we will focus on multiple selection, windows, processing power, among other topics …