OmniFocus for Mac Forecast View Stand-In

I was excited to hear Ben Brooks and Shawn Blanc discuss their OmniFocus tips and tricks on the most recent episode of the B&B Podcast. I love learning about how others are using OmniFocus, and was especially pleased to hear that Shawn's setup closely mirrors mine. Perhaps great minds think alike or, in a far more likely scenario, OmniFocus attracts those of a particular madness.

Whatever the case may be, Shawn mentioned that he was anxious to get a forecast view for the Mac. While I have personally never overly fond of the idea, I can understand why it might be appealing. So, I threw together a few Perspectives and a Keyboard Maestro macro to replicate some of the functionality.

The perspectives are the easier part of the equation. We need a due perspective, which can easily be accomplished using a "Due" status filter. Slightly more challenging is the start perspective which, as Ben posited on the show, is most easily created by using a "Start" grouping and folding all of the non-"Start Today" sections. You can see the setup for both perspectives below.

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The trickier, and far more enjoyable, challenge is putting the two together. The tool for this job, as is so often the case when I put my quasi-programming brain to the task, was Keyboard Maestro. I decided it would make the most sense to follow the iPad and iPhone "Forecast" convention — that is, having the due tasks listed first with the starting tasks below. I used Keyboard Maestro to automate the whole process:

  1. Open a new window for each context.
  2. Set one window to show each of the "Due Today" and "Start Today" contexts.
  3. Resize both windows to a reasonable width and a height slightly less than half the screen — this part of the macro will depend on your Mac, of course.
  4. Move the start window directly below the due window and hide the start window's toolbar, if it isn't already hidden.
  5. Because the "Start Today" group is actually pushed a little ways down the list, the macro also scrolls so that it is the first thing in view. In this case we are fortunate that OmniFocus has a defined number of categories it groups tasks into when you group by "Start" — any time, within the last 6 months, within the last 3 months, within the last month, within the last week, and yesterday (I have at least one task in each). If you don't have a task in each, the macro will have to be adjusted. You'll also have to change the scroll distance if you have substantially different font sizes/ spacing for the headings.

The macro ends up looking like this:

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(and if you want to download it, head on over to the downloads page).

The final result, in terms of window layout, looks wonky but gives the desired information:

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Obviously, this isn't nearly as useful as a formal perspective view. It doesn't show any days other than today, for example. It's also rife with unattractive behaviour because it was built with a tool completely unsuitable for this kind of task: the windows take a while to open up and place themselves, and it requires the mouse cursor to move so that the scrolling works. Still, not too shabby for a few minutes of fiddling around.

That's all for now. School has kept me away form writing for far too long and it has royally pissed me off. I am the vice-president of finance of our business society, a member of our most prestigious accounting case team, the head teaching assistant for introductory accounting, and I take a full course load. But, without a doubt, fiddling with computer stuff trumps all of that, hands down. So, I will definitely be doing more soon: look for an update to the iOS vs. Android OS updates post, a post on how I really use OmniFocus, and a fiddly, whinny masterpiece: my wish list for OmniFocus 2. Stay tuned!