«We’re focused on giving our customers a system that shows them what they want, when they need to see it, and I can definitely see artificial inteligence playing into that»
And now, the answers and the questions of David Messent for GTDapps:
Knowing better David Messent
What is your career path until you arrived in OmniFocus?
Before coming to Omni I wrote support and sales training materials for wireless carriers and manufacturers. My first role at Omni was in Customer Support, but I have been doing Product Management since 2009.
What defines David Messent?
I love communicating with people and working collaboratively on ideas and solutions!
What have been the challenges you had to overcome to transform that original vision of OmniFocus into the actual app?
I didn’t work on OmniFocus 1.0, when the team was building an app inspired by what customers were doing with OmniOutliner Pro, but during my tenure I would say the biggest challenge has been trying to meet the expectations of customers who want all the features of an app that is essentially a service (a web-app running on a server somewhere that does all the hard work), while we are the opposite of that. The OmniFocus apps on your devices do all the work, which means that you can choose almost any server to host your data for sync. We think that’s a really important feature of OmniFocus, that is only becoming more important as the world wakes up to more and more privacy concerns. But it does make development more difficult in some ways.
What milestones define the past of OmniFocus?
It’s easy to call out the individual product releases (v1.0 and 2.0 for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and the transition to a universal iOS app that runs on both iPhone and iPad), but I would say the features that have defined and differentiated OmniFocus over the years have been Perspectives (v1.0 for Mac in January 2008), Clipping and Quick Entry (also v1.0 for Mac), sync between Mac and iOS versions (v1 for iPhone in July 2008), Review Mode and Forecast (OmniFocus for iPad 1.0 in July 2010), Push-triggered sync for both Mac and iOS (July and December 2015, respectively), and end-to-end encryption (August 2016).
Inside the OmniFocus control room
Personal productivity is based on habits, as well as GTD. In which way, OmniFocus helps people to develop and maintain the GTD productivity habits?
I think two features of OmniFocus that reinforce habit are all of the ways we help you get stuff into your system (Quick Entry, Clipping, Automation via URLs on iOS, MailDrop), and our dedicated Review mode. It’s my personal belief that spending time reviewing is one of the most important things you can do to stay productive.
Which are the OmniFocus´s strengths, in comparison with other productivity apps available on the market?
That it’s built sustainably (Omni has been around for a long time and isn’t going anywhere). That it gives you control over your data and privacy. That it has a high ceiling in terms of power, if you’re interested in becoming a power user, while still being approachable for anyone who is interested in getting serious about productivity.
E-mail has become a significant tool in the daily life of the vast majority of knowledge workers. How do you think the relationship between E-mail, OmniFocus and personal productivity should be?
I don’t want anyone to stop doing what’s working for them, but I can tell you that I tend to leave emails in my inbox for processing and not create an OmniFocus item for every follow-up that needs sending. OmniFocus has great tools for capturing email—I just don’t use them very much personally.
What milestones will mark the future of OmniFocus?
The biggest things on the horizon for OmniFocus, our CEO Ken Case outlined in his blog post at the start of the year: Free downloads on iOS and Mac (making it easier for customers to try the apps before purchasing), letting customers attach multiple tags (contexts) to an item and set up better repeats, and transforming the OmniFocus iPad experience so that you can work as efficiently as you do on a Mac.
Within the OmniFocus route map is there space for collective productivity management (productive networks, work team, organizations departments…)?
This is something we’d love to do soon, but we want to focus on the work we’ve already announced before we move on to new features.
Nowadays, artificial intelligence is been documented by many writers and scientifics. How can deal OmniFocus with it?
That’s a great question, and one I don’t have an immediate answer to! Right now we’re focused on giving our customers a system that shows them what they want when they need to see it, and I can definitely see A.I. playing into that.
The last question is for the interviewee. What have you missed in the interview and would you like to include?
I’d like to thank your readers for reading this, and invite them to check out OmniFocus if they haven’t already (or if it’s been a while)!
I hope you have found interesting these data about the past, present, and future of OmniFocus. Thanks to David and thank you for being there.
See you in the next chapter of GTDapps.