Connect with the amazing community surrounding the Omni Group’s award-winning products.

Jan. 23, 2019, 6 a.m.
Rose Orchard, Author and Podcaster

Rose Orchard hosts the Automators podcast along with David Sparks. With Ryan Dotson she’s written a new book about OmniFocus 3 called Build Your OmniFocus Workflow.

Show Notes:

Rose, our first interview guest who doesn’t work for Omni, is a big part of the community, and she’s helped many OmniFocus users get more out of the app. You’ll find her on the Omni forum and in our Slack group — she really likes helping people, and she’s great at it.

You can also find Rose on her website, on Twitter @rosemaryorchard, and on

Some other people, places, and things mentioned:


Brent Simmons: You're listening to The Omni Show. Get to know the people and stories behind The Omni Group's award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS. Music!


Brent: I'm your host, Brent Simmons. In the studio with me today is Rose Orchard. Rose does the Automators podcast with David Sparks. She's also written a book with Ryan Dotson called Build Your OmniFocus Workflow. Now, Rose doesn't work for Omni, but she is a good friend, and she's visiting.

Brent: Say hello, Rose.

Rose Orchard: Hello, Rose.

Brent: So, thank you so very much for visiting. What brings you to town?

Rose: Well, there's a conference this weekend called PodCon, and I thought, “Hey, it's in Seattle. If I go to Seattle then I can visit The Omni Group and I can go to PodCon and see some very nice people.” So, I'm here.

Brent: Wow. Oh, that's great. So, you to the Automators with David Sparks. Are you on ... Do you have another regular podcast, or just the one so far?

Rose: Not right now. I have some in planning, but they're not quite there yet.

Brent: Oh, okay. All right.

Rose: We're still figuring out, like, names, and—

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: ... really schedules, and stuff like that.

Brent: Oh, that's exciting.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: That's cool. Doing podcasts is fun.

Rose: Oh, definitely. It's one of my favorite things.

Brent: This is the first time you've done a podcast not over Skype, or something like that?

Rose: Yeah, so David and I usually use Skype, or FaceTime Audio if Skype is not playing ball, to record Automators because David's in California and I live in Vienna. So, actually being in the same place would require a lot of flying—

Brent: Right.

Rose: ... and that would be a rather larger time commitment than—

Brent: Sure.

Rose: ... either of us have.

Brent: Every two weeks.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: And scheduling must be kind of a challenge. When do you normally record?

Rose: We usually record after I finish work on Thursdays. So, that's early in the morning Thursdays, California or Seattle time, as you guys are in the same time zone. And that works quite well. Thankfully, because David works for himself, he has a very flexible schedule. So, we just—

Brent: Oh, yeah.

Rose: ... yeah, throw something in our shared calendar, and if it doesn't work then the other person moves it or, you know, whatever.

Brent: And David seems to be on a dozen podcasts now, too, or two—

Rose: Well, he has three regular podcasts?

Brent: Three? Three?

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Mac Power Users.

Rose: Focused and Automators.

Brent: Focused, that's right.

Rose: Yes, Focused is what Free Agents is now—

Brent: Right, yeah, I just saw that.

Rose: ... because it transformed into a butterfly, as one might say.

Brent: I love that. The podcast world is ... Podcasts have been around a while, but it just keeps getting so good—

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: ... and I love what's out there right now. And I just have no time for everything. I have so many—

Rose: No, that's the problem, right? Yeah.

Brent: So many things. One of my personal favorites is Jean MacDonald's and James Dempsey's.

Rose: Oh, The Weekly Review.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Yeah, I was just a guest on that a few weeks ago and it's one of my favorite podcasts as well—

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: ... just because they're so relaxed and honest about everything.

Brent: Yeah, absolutely.

Rose: [crosstalk 00:02:45]

Brent: And the theme song is great.

Rose: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, James wrote that himself, so ...

Brent: Naturally, yeah. So, tell us about your book. Your book is called Build Your OmniFocus Workflow. And I thought of you as a very busy person, and then one day you said, “Hey, I've written a book.” I'm like, “how did that also manage to fit in your schedule?” I don't know.

Rose: Well, there are a few things that I could sacrifice, so I picked sleep, because I wasn't going to sacrifice chocolate. That's—

Brent: Right.

Rose: That just wasn't going to happen.

Brent: No, that would be wrong.

Rose: That would have been dangerous.

Brent: Immoral even.

Rose: Yeah, exactly. Basically, I half jokingly floated the idea in one of the OmniFocus Slack channels, actually, that I was thinking of writing a book, and Ryan said, “Oh, that's really interesting, like, I'd love to do something like that.” And so, I just messaged him and said, “Well, do you want to do it together?” And he said yes, which is amazing. So, thank you to you guys for introducing us—

Brent: Oh, sure.

Rose: ... because otherwise I would have never met Ryan. But essentially, because he's in Japan, so I would wake up, and I would see that he'd made a bunch of changes in Dropbox to our Scrivener file, and it would be like, okay, now I have to do something. I can't just let him do all of the work.

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: And so, I was kind of competing with him. Not directly, because in the end we both won with a book. Yeah, it was one of these things, it's like, okay, I'll just find 10 minutes and do this little section, and then come back to it later, so ...

Brent: That's great, so you had a geographically enforced kind of back and forth.

Rose: Yeah, exactly. Which worked really nicely, because, like, he would go to bed, and then I'd get home from work and it would be like, great, so he's asleep, I can get on and make a bunch of changes in the hope that he doesn't want to kill me when he wakes up, which is good, because I'm not dead, so he didn't actually kill me.

Rose: And he was in charge of all the formatting and everything, which is good, because I have no idea, like how to ...

Brent: Oh, yeah.

Rose: Like, I know what looks pretty, but the changes to make to make something look pretty are kind of just beyond me. Like, I can make some tweaks here and there, and go, like, oh, I really like this, not so much this, to guide a designer, but I am not a designer, so ...

Brent: Yeah, I'm much in that same boat. Same with the audio editing. I've never done it, but Mark is, of course ... Our intrepid producer is a whiz at audio editing. Anyone can make me sound good, it's Mark.

Brent: Where was I? The book. So, you wrote a book.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: How's it doing? Is it doing well?

Rose: It's been much more popular than either Ryan or I anticipated, which is a great thing.

Brent: That's great.

Rose: Yeah. We kept seeing people saying, like, “Oh, I kind of wish OmniFocus was more like Things, because Things is very opinionated,” and we were like, well, OmniFocus is better than Things. We think that because we use it, and I'm sure you guys think that because you produce it. Maybe people just need like a book to tell them what to do, like Things tells you what to do.

Rose: So, that's what we did, and apparently people really like it, because we've had great feedback. Loads of people are very much appreciative of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy references in there—

Brent: Oh, sure. Yeah.

Rose: ... which always goes down well. If you're winning the internet it's either cat pictures or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy references.

Brent: If you can combine the two, that's—

Rose: Oh, yeah.

Brent: ... you've really got something.

Rose: Yeah, definitely. And it was great fun to write, which, of course, is all that counts, really, so ...

Brent: I'm old enough to have read Hitchhiker's Guide when it first came out, must have been 11 or 12 years old, and my mom, who was a computer programmer, said, “Son, you have to read this.” And I read it, and it was one of the best probably two days of my life, reading that book when it was brand new for the first time.

Rose: Yeah, I probably read it for the first time around that age as well. I have my parents' copies, which they originally took to Yugoslavia on holiday with them. Yugoslavia doesn't exist anymore, but they used it to swat mosquitoes while they were there. So, I was reading this book, like, covered in dead mosquitoes, but it was a very good book despite the mosquitoes.

Brent: That sounds like the beginning of something that could have been in Hitchhiker's Guide.

Rose: Exactly.

Brent: A trip to Yugoslavia and mosquitoes, yeah.

Rose: Yeah, exactly. It really could have been. Very Douglas Adams.

Brent: So the book's doing well, that's really super good news.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: So, tell me more about that. What kind of workflows do you talk about in the book? What would people learn?

Rose: Well, we based the whole book on how we use OmniFocus, because it's all very well writing about, you know, like, “one could go to the supermarket and possibly buy a pear,” but neither of us are like that, and we actually—

Brent: Never eat pears.

Rose: Well, no, we do go to the supermarket and occasionally buy pears, though I hear—

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: ... fruit is expensive in Japan, so maybe not so much for Ryan.

Rose: But we wanted to write about things that we actually do to make OmniFocus work for us, because that's a real example, and we find, or we were thinking that, real examples would be the best for people, rather than just theory, here's the actual thing. So every section basically is, like, a theory, and then one of us, or maybe both of us, have a little personal aside underneath that show exactly how we implement this thing.

Rose: So, for example, waiting tags. Like, we have a little thing where Ryan says, like, he doesn't actually have his waiting tag as an on holds tag, because he has so few waiting tasks that they would disappear, and then he would miss them, whereas I have two different kinds of waiting tags, and both of mine are on hold, so ...

Rose: But we, you know, we manage to give real examples based on what we actually do, which I think is more helpful for people than purely, hmm, you could possibly do this if you think about it like that. And then at the end we go deep and break down our whole workflows.

Brent: So, aside from writing a book, doing podcasts, what else do you do that requires so much OmniFocus management? You're a student, and you have a job.

Rose: Yeah, I'm studying for my master's degree, which is online, so I have to completely manage myself, because I never see anybody else. And I have a full-time job as a programmer, and I'm in charge of our ticket system at work, so ... and I have to roll it out to different teams at work, and set up demo systems for them.

Rose: And I wrote some software that accompanies it, which is actually a piece of middleware. It sits between another piece of software and our ticket system, and allows people to augment the data from our software, or our service architecture management tool, which is basically, like, here are the lists of services that we offer people. It takes the data, does some little massaging to format it correctly, lets people add information, then feeds it into our ticket system.

Rose: So, I have to manage all of that, and without OmniFocus I would have no clue what I was doing, I'm sure.

Brent: Are you writing in JavaScript? Ruby?

Rose: I write in PHP.

Brent: PHP.

Rose: Yeah—

Brent: A newer version, hopefully.

Rose: Yes, I write it for PHP 7.1 primarily, but everything I write I try to be PHP 7.2 compatible as well. My IDE is set to scream at me if I write something that's PHP 5 style, which is good, because when I first started working there ...

Rose: Well, the first piece of software that I wrote for the university I work for I wrote for, I think, PHP 7, and then we tried to put it on the server, and I found out the server, because our old ticket system was on it, was running PHP, I want to say, 5.4, which, for the listeners not familiar with PHP, this version has not been supported for a very long time. Like, it basically is dead. So, it's kind of like Mac OS X Tiger or something in age terms.

Rose: So, I had to downgrade everything, but I wrote it in a way that I can just sort of flip it around when we migrated it to a different server, which thankfully happened recently.

Brent: Oh, okay. Enterprise software.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: So, that's—

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: ... that's an interesting world.

Rose: It is, but it's great fun, and I'm very fortunate to have a team who's very supportive and flexible about things, and if I say I can't do that, then they don't go, “Are you really sure?” They go, “Okay, so you've tried that and it doesn't work. What else can we do?” So, that's always nice.

Brent: Yeah, that's cool. What are you studying in grad school? What's your degree going to?

Rose: My degree is a master's of computing with a focus on software engineering.

Brent: Okay.

Rose: So, my next two modules are, funnily, called Software Engineering, and then the next one is Software Engineering 2.

Brent: Okay.

Rose: So ...

Brent: I like that. That seems like a logical sequence.

Rose: It does seem like a logical sequence. And then I have to decide whether I'm doing, like, my big master's dissertation, or if I'm doing a half master's dissertation and one extra module, so ...

Brent: Okay.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Do you have specific plans for after you graduate? Like, you want to work on this kind of thing or that kind of thing?

Rose: No, essentially I'm doing it because my bachelor's degree was in foreign languages, and while there is a link between foreign languages and programming, it's both ways to talk to people or things in a way that they understand, it's technically not the same thing at all. And I thought that it would be good to get some educational experience in the area that I've just kind of fallen into working in.

Rose: So, yeah, I'm doing my master's degree to satisfy curiosity as much as anything else.

Brent: Oh, that's awesome. So, you used to be a teacher—

Rose: Yes.

Brent: ... at some point.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: What did you teach? Foreign languages?

Rose: Yeah, I taught English as a foreign language—

Brent: Oh, cool.

Rose: ... and I worked for this really cool company where I would go to a different school every single week. And so, I was literally all over the world. I've taught in Japan, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and Poland—

Brent: Wow.

Rose: ... among other countries. And the UK, at a summer school. So, OmniFocus was extremely helpful then—

Brent: I bet.

Rose: ... because I would have one project per course that I was teaching, and it would have everything in it.

Brent: You're very well traveled. That's awesome though.

Rose: Yeah. I've been very fortunate with that.

Brent: Do you know Laura Savino?

Rose: No, I'm afraid not.

Brent: Oh, okay. She did that kind of thing in, I think, South Korea.

Rose: Nice.

Brent: Yeah, and I was there for a while. And I think ... Did Joshua do that, Mark? Do you remember? Because he lived in Japan. Did he teach English as a second language?

Mark Boszko: I don't know.

Brent: I'm not sure either.

Rose: I know Ryan teaches English as a foreign language in Japan, so ...

Brent: Oh, yeah. Yeah, right.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah, very cool thing to do.

Rose: It is, yeah.

Brent: It's interesting how it's become a business skill, right?

Rose: It is, yeah.

Brent: You know? You just kind of need to know English to ...

Rose: Yeah, you do.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Well, there's more people in China learning English than there are native English speakers in the world, so ...

Brent: That's an amazing thing.

Rose: Yeah, it is.

Brent: Yeah, right.

Rose: It's also kind of terrifying how important this language is.

Brent: Yeah, it's true. Nice thing about languages is they don't crash, or they don't crash quickly, anyway.

Rose: No, but they do have compiler errors.

Brent: Yes, that's true.

Rose: And so, you can say something and can't get out something that means something that means something totally different to what you expected, especially false friends are one of my favorite language things—

Brent: Oh, yeah. Right, yeah.

Rose: ... just because you'll say something and it sounds exactly like what you wanted to say, because it's ... that word is the same in English.

Brent: Right, but no.

Rose: It's not the same—

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: ... and means something different.

Brent: Faux amis.

Rose: Yes.

Brent: I learned a little French. The problem with languages is that they don't have compiler errors, right? You can make those mistakes—

Rose: Oh, yeah, you can.

Brent: ... and there is no ... There's—

Rose: And then there's no way to call it that.

Brent: Yeah, right, and you won't—

Rose: Unless you're typing on a computer.

Brent: And you won't even necessarily know [crosstalk 00:13:03]

Rose: Well, until other people start snickering at you.

Brent: Well, yeah, if it works out that way.

Rose: Or if they get this very confused look on their face where they're just, “What did ... Did you mean what you just said?”

Brent: It could go very badly.

Rose: Oh, yes. No, I had a friend who once accidentally told her host family in France that she was pregnant instead of that she was full. Very close, I think it's just one, one.

Brent: Enceinte or something, is ...

Rose: No, I think instead of saying je suis plein she said je suis empli—

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: ... which is like a casual way of saying that.

Brent: I see, okay.

Rose: I may have got that wrong. I haven't spoke French since I worked for Disney, which is quite a long time ago, so ...

Brent: Did you work for Disney in France?

Rose: Yeah, I worked for Disneyland Paris and Disney Cruise Lines, so ...

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: Yeah, a former Disney person.

Brent: Oh, okay. Friend of the mouse.

Rose: Yes, a good friend of the mouse. Working for Disney was fun as well, and because it was short term contracts it was always a case of, like, okay, so when am I going there? Where am I going? Calendar and planning tools are definitely required for that.

Brent: Do you remember how you ran across OmniFocus in the first place?

Rose: Merlin Mann and 43 Folders.

Brent: Oh, okay, yeah.

Rose: Yeah, I read Getting Things Done, or listened to the audiobook, to be precise, and I was looking, and everybody was like, yeah, the best task management tool is OmniFocus.

Brent: Right.

Rose: And I was like, well, I don't have a Mac, so that's kind of out of the question. And I don't think iOS existed at that time, or if it did it was just the very first iPhone, so Apple hadn't allowed companies—

Brent: Oh, sure, yeah.

Rose: ... to make apps yet.

Rose: Yeah, and so I was really tempted by it, and I tried everything else because I didn't have a Mac. And then I end up getting a Mac, and then very shortly afterwards bought OmniFocus, and I've lived happily ever after ever since.

Brent: Starting with the very first OmniFocus 1, I assume, or ...

Rose: No, I started with OmniFocus 2, actually.

Brent: Okay.

Rose: But it was, I think, pretty early days for OmniFocus 2. Maybe not. I think I got OmniFocus Pro version definitely just as you guys switched from having two separate iOS apps, one for iPad and iPhone, to universal. Like, I bought it, like, on the day that you said that it was going universal.

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: Because it was like oh, okay, well, now I can actually save a little bit of money. That's nice.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: And then I kind of fell down the Omni rabbit hole with OmniOutliner, and OmniPlan, and OmniGraffle ending up in my dock.

Brent: Do you use OmniPlan much?

Rose: When I need it. So, I've just finished a part of my master's degree in project management, and so for all of the examples there where we needed to create project management diagrams, and check whether or not resources were being used correctly, I used OmniPlan, because it's the best on Mac, and my university offered me Microsoft [Plan] for free. It's like, hm, I could use Windows. Like, I have a Windows machine, primarily for gaming. It's like, I could install [Plan] on there, or I could just get OmniPlan.

Brent: OmniPlan, yeah.

Rose: So, I went with OmniPlan, yeah.

Brent: Yeah. We're going to do an episode coming up soon, recording in a few weeks, with Greg Titus, and Ken, and Ainsley, and we're going to do the whole story of OmniPlan—

Rose: Oh, nice.

Brent: ... which I've only heard bits of, but I think it started with Greg thinking, “Hey, you know, I could do this,” and spending a night or a weekend, like, “Here's an app.” “Oh, yeah. That seems good. Let's do that.” I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but that's what I've heard.

Rose: I'm sure it is more complicated than that. It can be an extremely complicated application, but—

Brent: Sure, yeah.

Rose: ... yeah.

Brent: But it's—

Rose: It started as just an idea.

Brent: ... it's genesis was just ... Yeah.

Rose: Well, I mean, everything starts as an idea, right?

Brent: True.

Rose: But as always, implementation, execution are the keys to success, so ...

Brent: That's right, yeah. OmniPlan's an interesting one, though, because it's less likely to be something that a very large general interest audience would use.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Because OmniFocus, literally everyone on the planet could use it, right?

Rose: Well, assuming they have—

Brent: But not yet, but we're working on it.

Rose: Yeah, assuming, at the moment, they have a Mac or iOS device.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Or shortly, one of those two and the web, because you're going to need, what, either OmniFocus 3 for iOS or for Mac to be able to use OmniFocus for the Web to get the database set up and organized.

Brent: Right, yeah.

Rose: Yeah. But no, I've been using OmniFocus for the Web too, because at work I have a lot of virtual machines that I have to log into, and instead of flipping back to my Mac every time, it's just easier to just open a browser and put it on one side of my screen with OmniFocus in it. And it's been working extremely well, I have to say.

Brent: Oh, that's good.

Rose: I'm very impressed with everything the team's been doing.

Brent: I remember the first time I saw an internal build, and I'm like, this looks exactly like OmniFocus for Mac.

Rose: It does.

Brent: Even the inspector, I mean, everything—

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: ... I'm like, wow.

Rose: Like, there are some little things where I think, oh, that's iOS, but mostly it's just like, whoa, this is Mac in a web browser, what did you guys do? And then I heard the episode where you said, “It's running on Macs.”

Brent: Yeah, right.

Rose: I was like, oh... well that makes sense then.

Brent: Might even be released by the time people hear this. I don't know. Might not be.

Rose: I'm not sure.

Brent: Yeah, right.

Rose: I know it's coming soon.

Brent: Yeah, I know. They're in a meeting right now, they might be talking about the release date. Beats me.

Rose: Maybe.

Brent: I know that people out in the world tend to think, you know, we ... that software companies set hard dates, and always hit them—

Rose: Oh.

Brent: ... and that's just not—

Rose: No.

Brent: ... how it always goes.

Rose: No. But you'll find something, and, like, if that something is big enough you have to say, like, okay, well—

Brent: Yeah, right.

Rose: ... we're not making our previously planned release date because that something is too big, and it's going to have too much of a negative effect on people.

Brent: Right.

Rose: Or maybe just something gets held up somewhere, like app review occasionally takes forever, for whatever reason—

Brent: Oh, yeah. Sure.

Rose: ... whenever you plan something, and there is just one tiny little thing that you need to change, and you send it through app review, thinking yep, it will be fine, like, it was just a typo somewhere, and app review is like, “No.”

Brent: Yeah. Yeah, and a software company's a lot more like, I don't know, a ship or something, where you have to make constant course corrections, you know? You don't just go, “We're going from here to there,” and just straight line, and we're on it.

Rose: Yeah, no, we're going from here to there, possibly via A through Z.

Brent: Yeah, right.

Rose: With all the letters repeated at least twice, and whatever shiny things pop up on the way, like, maybe dolphins, maybe mermaids.

Brent: So what's got you excited about automating stuff? That seems really hot right now. People are into automation.

Rose: Yeah, well, I mean, David Sparks and I planned Automators before WWDC this year. We announced it after WWDC. We'd actually even recorded an episode before WWDC, which we then scrapped and rerecorded. Well, also, it was our first episode, and we were like, we can do better. So, we did.

Rose: I just like the idea of, we have this powerful technology. I mean, look at the iPhone. The iPhone is more powerful than my parents' first computer.

Brent: Sure.

Rose: More powerful than most people's first computers nowadays. Maybe not, like, four year olds with iPads. That's an exception. Why aren't we making the most of this to do stuff for us? Like, why would you sit there and type out the same email 10 or 15 times when you can use something else to generate that, fill in the names, fill in the dates, and just send it off automatically for you.

Rose: And a lot of people don't realize that automation is really easy, and that's why I love it, because I can make one tiny little thing in shortcuts that, for example, create a task in OmniFocus with a bunch of nested tasks underneath it, so, an action group. And I can do that, and it's really easy. But to do that maybe directly in OmniFocus can be a little bit fiddly depending on, you know, the device, and how you're thinking about it when you set it up, and things like that.

Rose: Whereas, doing something like that, for me, it's like five minutes of work, but then I can use it every single day. And that's something that I like doing. I like being ... It's kind of like giving people presents and seeing the look on their face when they see it works.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: So, that's [crosstalk 00:20:14]

Brent: Well, you're giving them the present of time, right?

Rose: Exactly.

Brent: If you can automate something.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Exactly. And sometimes maybe you won't save a huge amount of time with automation. Like, there's two kinds of automation, essentially: the ones that save you time, and the ones that are more efficient, more accurate.

Brent: Right.

Rose: So, I think Dr. Drang once posted something on his blog a while ago about how he wrote a Keyboard Maestro macro to do something for him, and he said it actually takes longer when he runs the Keyboard Maestro macro than it does if he does it in person.

Rose: But because it's a 20-step process, it's going to be the same every time. It's going to be 100% accurate. If you're a human, you're going to miss step 18, or, you know, maybe step one, and something's going to go wrong somewhere.

Rose: So, that's the other side of automation, if you need something to be accurate, and that's what I like. That's what I'm really excited about with Omni Automation as well, which is hopefully coming this year?

Brent: That would be nice.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: I guess our roadmap is usually published around the end of January, and, which, might be something about that in there.

Rose: Yeah, I mean, it was in—

Brent: I honestly don't know.

Rose: ... last year's roadmap.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: So, hopefully it's just been delayed, because, as you said, software creation is not a straight line. You can have all these wonderful plans and then something derails them. So, Omni Automation didn't make it last year to OmniFocus, but it is already in OmniOutliner—

Brent: Right.

Rose: ... and OmniGraffle, right?

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: So ...

Brent: Yeah. Yeah, and I think it's going to be a big deal, it—

Rose: Oh, it is, definitely.

Brent: For Focus, it just makes so much sense. Well, it does for Outliner and Graffle, but—

Rose: Yeah, I think OmniFocus is where people are really going to be willing to take the time to sit down and learn it though, because the problem with AppleScript is it's just on the Mac, and the problem with shortcuts is it's just on iOS. And you have the same thing with Automator, and Siri, and things like that.

Rose: And if you give them the one automation that they can use everywhere, that's where it gets to be really fun, because then it doesn't matter. And maybe, someday, we'll even see it on OmniFocus for the Web, which, you know, I'm just throwing the—

Brent: JavaScript in a browser? That's weird.

Rose: Yeah, I'm just throwing the developers into, like—

Brent: How could that even...

Rose: ... a hot pool of oil there.

Brent: Totally are.

Rose: Sorry.

Brent: I'm going to warn them not to listen to this episode.

Rose: But no, like, you know, maybe, one day, if OmniFocus for the Web makes it that far, it would even show up there, which would be amazing. But even if it's just iOS and macOS, for most people that's going to be more than enough.

Brent: Yeah. I think so, too. Yeah, I'm super excited for—

Rose: Oh, yeah.

Brent: ... whenever that comes.

Rose: Yeah, I'm looking forward to the beta test, so ...

Brent: Have you followed some of the work that Sal [Soghoian] has done on ...

Rose: Oh, yes.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah, he's—

Rose: I've met Sal, actually, last year, for the WWDC.

Brent: Okay.

Rose: And he was like, “I've been having fun working with those Omni Group guys.” And I was like, “I know,” because I've been playing with it. So, yeah.

Brent: Oh, yeah?

Rose: Yeah, especially the stuff in OmniGraffle. That's where I got started learning Omni Automation.

Brent: Oh, okay.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: I love Sal's work. He's fantastic. Well, I mean, 20 years at Apple, he did such great work there, too.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Exactly.

Brent: Yeah, we were very lucky.

Rose: Maybe that could be a future episode, you interviewing Sal about—

Brent: Yeah, next—

Rose: ... his Omni Automation stuff.

Brent: ... next time he comes up, actually.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah, I'd definitely like to do that, yeah. He's been up a few times, but it's been a while, I think, so ... But the buzz around automation reminds me of the mid '90s, because in the Mac world, you know, AppleScript, and Frontier, and a few other things, automation was a really big deal for a while.

Brent: And it was great, because it did so much for desktop publishing, but then an awful lot for the early days of web publishing, too. People realized, hey, I don't have to write all this HTML by hand. I can, you know, script it and create websites. Blogs came to be, you know, probably that way.

Brent: So, so much came out of that world. I'm really excited and interested to see, you know, how that plays out in the iOS world these days.

Rose: Yeah, and I'm very much hoping some of this is going to make it back to the Mac, because nowadays, like, if you look at what Shortcuts can do versus was Automator can do, Shortcuts is a lot more powerful. And so, I'm really hoping that the shortcuts team, at some point, grows to be the size where they can also take over Automator, and expand Automator so it can do—

Brent: Oh, that would be great.

Rose: ... all the stuff Shortcuts can do.

Rose: And just like developers can make direct action blocks for Automator, it would be great if they can do that for Shortcuts as well, so ...

Brent: Oh, yeah.

Rose: Because at the moment, of course, it's purely donated things, so a lot of people are hacking stuff together with a clipboard, which, you know, it's a hack if it involves a clipboard, right?

Brent: Right, true. Well, I still think of URL schemes as a hack, too, I mean—

Rose: Oh, yeah. They are, but they are a fun hack—

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: ... so ...

Brent: Yeah, a hack that actually works, which is the thing, so ...

Rose: Oh, yeah, they work really well.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: And you guys use URL schemes correctly, with the three slashes at the start.

Brent: Yeah. I don't know why that is, but we do it. I seen that it's correct.

Rose: And Ken explained it at some point to me.

Brent: Okay.

Rose: I don't remember it now, and I'm going to get it wrong, but essentially the standard says that if it's doing an action it should be three slashes or something.

Brent: Okay.

Rose: I'm sure Ken will be able to provide the link for the show notes for the—

Brent: Right, sure.

Rose: ... people who are very interested.

Brent: So, do you think you'll end up revising your book when Omni Automation for OmniFocus ships?

Rose: Oh, yeah. We plan to update the book. It's an OmniFocus 3 book, so as long as OmniFocus 3 is around, like, we're going to be updating it to cover any features and things like that.

Rose: So, we've already got an OmniFocus for the Web section in there, just because Ryan and I were on the beta, and we knew that it was coming soon. So, we just put that little section in there to tease the people that weren't quite on the beta yet, and also just so that we wouldn't have to update it quite as quickly.

Rose: We're going to be updating it to cover Omni Automation, and—

Brent: Oh, that's good.

Rose: ... all those fun features that you're planning on adding.

Brent: Many fun things. Collaboration is a thing people have asked—

Rose: Oh, yeah.

Brent: ... an awful lot about, too.

Rose: We're looking forward to testing that one.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: So, and I'm going to be testing that with David Sparks, too, for Automators, so ...

Brent: Oh, great.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: So, what do you think about the ... This is a really, a businessy question. You might not even have an opinion. What about the subscription pricing for OmniFocus for the Web?

Brent: So, we have— it's optional. If you've already bought Mac or iOS it's, I think, $4.99 a month, and if you want to subscribe to everything I think it's $9.99 a month.

Rose: Yes, yeah. From memory, you've ...

Brent: Yeah, yeah.

Rose: Got the right numbers.

Brent: Sounds about right, anyway.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: I mean, I think it's great, because, as you said, it's optional. So, if people don't need the web version they can still buy iOS versions, Mac versions up front, which is great. And if they only need iOS and the web, then they can just get ... buy the iOS app and get the web version separately.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: I think what is really great is it's going to let people do a longer trial.

Brent: Oh, right, yeah.

Rose: Because two weeks is a great free trial period, but for some people, they'll install it, they'll start the trial, and they'll forget about it.

Brent: Right.

Rose: And then two weeks comes and goes, and they've forgotten. But being able to sign up for a month for $9.99 and get everything to try it out, I think that's where, you know, a lot of people are going to be like, “Yeah, you know what? I'm just going to try it for a month.”

Brent: Right.

Rose: And if they tack that on to the two weeks they've got, then they've got a six-week trial for $10, which is really generous and nice. And I think it will really let people try it in every situation. Some people may say, “Actually, I don't need the web version,” go back and buy iOS and Mac versions, but—

Brent: Sure, yeah.

Rose: ... I mean, it doesn't matter, does it, providing they get OmniFocus? I mean, especially for businesses, I can see it being a great use case, because they can just be like, “Okay, we're just getting OmniFocus for everybody for a year.”

Brent: Right, yeah.

Rose: “And we're going to review it at the end of the year and see if we're happy with it.” I'm guessing you're looking at doing business pricing with that as well?

Brent: Yeah, we've started ... Well, we've started working on business pricing, and site licenses, and so on, and, yeah.

Rose: It's a little bit more complicated than just—

Brent: Yeah, right, so ...

Rose: ... single person licensing—

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: ... of course. And I'm guessing if people are looking to talk to people about that it's

Brent:, thank you, that's ... You've got it.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Right.

Rose: So, I mean, that's where I think a lot of people are going to go. I'm sure most users will probably just buy the apps up front, and buy web separately if they need it, which is a great deal as well.

Rose: Yeah, I think it's a good thing. And the pricing, like, some people say OmniFocus is too expensive. So, for those people, like, the subscription pricing is probably going to make them raise eyebrows as well.

Brent: Sure. Well, there are people who can afford, whatever, five or 10 a month.

Rose: Yeah, exactly.

Brent: Or at least for some months, you can't necessarily get it all up, but ...

Rose: Yeah, exactly, and personally I am of the opinion that if you're trusting something to manage your life you should be willing to pay for it.

Brent: Well, sure, yeah.

Rose: Because it saves me so many times. You know, if I miss a deadline then that would be much worse than paying.

Brent: There are consequences.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: That's much worse than paying good money for an application.

Brent: Right.

Rose: It's good money, not bad money.

Brent: Right, exactly. So, do you have any pets at home? Got to ask you about dogs and cats.

Rose: I have a Neato Botvac D7, which is called Pirate Kitty—

Brent: Okay.

Rose: ... because I live in a fourth floor apartment with no garden, no balcony, and actually having a cat would, unfortunately, probably not be so nice for the cat.

Brent: Nah.

Rose: But it would definitely have to be an indoor cat that doesn't mind small spaces, and I don't want to subject cats to that.

Brent: Yeah, that can be tough.

Rose: Yeah.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: That would be unfair for the cat.

Brent: Yeah.

Rose: Probably unfair for me, too, because I'm not a fan of emptying litter boxes, which, if it's an indoor cat, there's got to be a litter box.

Brent: Yes, that's right.

Rose: So, unfortunately, no. I have a—

Brent: And there's no OmniEmptyLitterBox app that can do it for you.

Rose: No, no, unfortunately not.

Brent: Even Omni Automation will not.

Rose: No, unfortunately not.

Brent: Yeah, shame.

Rose: I'm sure, one day, I will get the OmniHouseBot, which will do all of this for me. But, in the mean time—

Brent: Why are you revealing are next product?

Rose: I didn't know. I'm sorry. I just made something up.

Rose: At the moment I have a robot vacuum, which is great, and is a very good pet, and it cleans our floors exceptionally well, and I'm very impressed with it. But no actual cats, apart from the ones that I occasionally borrow from your blog, because—

Brent: Yeah, no, they're—

Rose: ... there are very cute pictures on there.

Brent: ... very cute cats, yeah. We're about to close, but I saw a joke on Twitter that I have to share. Somebody posted something about, “Oh, no! I opened the door and my Roomba escaped and went outside, and-”

Rose: I remember that.

Brent: Yeah, “And it's going around. What's going to happen? It has no known natural predators.” And then somebody replied, “Oh, don't worry, something will kill it. Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Rose: I do remember seeing some ... I think somebody—

Brent: I love that.

Rose: ... linked me to the tweet about the Roomba escaping, which I was very amused by. Ours knows where the end of the apartment is, and we tried leaving the front door open at some point, just as a test, and it did not go into the other—

Brent: Did not go.

Rose: No, because it was like, I don't know what this area is. Like, I could go in a straight line.

Brent: I can't clean out an entire planet, don't make me.

Rose: It literally just went up to the door frame, was like, hmm, looked left, look right, reverse, turned around—

Brent: Nice.

Rose: ... and got back on with cleaning the apartment.

Brent: Well, thank you, Rose.

Rose: Thank you for having me, Brent.

Brent: How can people find you on the web?

Rose: I think the best place to look for me is

Brent: Okay.

Rose: And I've got links there to everywhere else that I am, including the OmniFocus book, Automators...

Brent: And I'll make sure all that's in the show notes as well.

Rose: Thank you.

Brent: I'd also like to thank our intrepid producer, Mark Boszko. Say hello, Mark.

Mark: Hello, Mark.

Brent: And especially I want to thank you for listening. Thank you. Music.