David Sparks is a multi-talented and very busy person: Day job lawyer and spare timer podcaster, writer, publisher and presenter. In his latest Field Guide book — releasing on July 21st and available for pre-order now — he is bringing some of these talents together helping others building and delivering better presentations.

In the past David, sometimes together with co-authors, already helped us to make better use of Email, Markdown, Mac OS OX and to live Paperless. This time he takes on the not-so-easy subject of presentations. There are a lot of them and most tend to be bad. That is also why David leaves his typically more tool-focussed path a little and looks into creation, planning and delivering techniques that make your presentation more engaging.

presentations-cover With a large number of screencasts and other interactive elements the book also uses the full set of possibilities offered by iBooks, making it a great learning experience. David also invested in a design overhaul compared to his previous books making 'Presentations' a real pleasure to read and navigate.

I am delivering a lot of presentations and they appear to resonate pretty well, but that did not stop me from pre-ordering David's new book. "You always need to seek getting better." — That is one of my rules for better presentations.

omnifocus-2-keyboard-shortcuts

Because OmniGroup knows that many of their customers are keyboard-operated they not only have default keyboard shortcuts for many operations in OmniFocus 2, they also included this impressive keyboard commands cheat sheet straight into the OmniFocus 'Help' menu. It actually comes as a PDF so you can print it and put it under your pillow at night to memorise these key combos better.

As some of the interaction design in OmniFocus 2 has substantially changed there are also some new shortcuts to be learned by long-time users. My favourite at the moment is ⌘! as it helps converting an action into a project when processing your Inbox.

While most of the shortcuts that are already muscle memory for so many largely remain unchanged, there are a few modifications, e.g. hiding/showing all notes, to watch out for.

OmniFocus 1 for Mac has been around since early 2008 and was more than due for an upgrade. After the OmniGroup focussed on the iOS versions of the application for the past years, OmniFocus for Mac received more love and attention over the last two years leading up to a major upgrade. After two large-scale private beta phases exploring two very different UI design concepts and eventually a public beta OmniGroup pressed the button on OmniFocus 2 for Mac last Thursday (find all the details in the OmniGroup blog post).

After many years of theming away OmniFocus' reminiscence of an Aqua interface the application now sports an entirely re-designed UI which is clearly inspired by the last major OmniFocus for iPhone upgrade. While the data model remained largely unchanged, the crew from Seattle managed to reduce complexity and therefore friction in the app while maintaining the power provided by its flexibility and feature set.

As a consequence of OmniGroup's approach you can now chose between a Standard and a Professional version of OmniFocus 2 for Mac. While the Standard version will work perfectly fine for all "casual" users, the Professional version maintains features like Perspectives and the AppleScript interface used by power users. Both versions are available from the Mac App Store (the Pro version comes an In-App Purchase) and Omni's own store and there is a nice upgrade pricing and process for all owner's of OmniFocus whether they bought the software directly from OmniGroup or through MAS.

Screencasts

Whether you just want to get a better overview of OmniFocus for Mac before getting your credit card out for an initial purchase or upgrade, want to learn what is new or to get started with your 14-day trial version and few good people took the time and effort to create some helpful screencast to help you.

Tim Stringer, a long time OmniFocus power user who is in the process to launch his "Learn OmniFocus" website on June 2nd, has produced two screencast as a teaser of what he is working on.

Looking at what has changed from OmniFocus 1 to 2.

For those using OmniFocus 2 for the first time.

Well-known screencaster Don McAllister from ScreenCastsOnline recorded a full OmniFocus 2 tutorial of which the 1st part with 33 minutes (!) is available for free

Also the OmniGroup created three useful screencasts that cover OmniFocus 2 for Mac Perspectives, Forecast and the new icon design. You can find them in OmniGroup's large video repository.

Reviews

Some of the heavy-weights of my favourite tech writers also wrote their very own reviews of OmniFocus 2 for Mac.

Shawn Blanc has a very extensive review covering his personal use of OmniFocus on the different supported platforms, a visual history of the application from its inception as Kinkless GTD and a solid review of what's new and hot in OmniFocus 2.

This new version of OmniFocus is more feature-rich while also being cleaner, more organized, and more logical. The design brings a structured peacefulness to the wild animal that is my never-ending task list. And that’s quite a feat, because our to-dos are, by nature, neither structured nor peaceful.

In his review Stephen Hackett from 512 Pixels puts more emphasis on providing a short, but complete overview of what comes with OmniFocus 2 for Mac.

If you use OmniFocus, upgrading to the new version should be a no-brainer. It's beautiful, fast and packs the same punch the old version did. It doesn't bring a long list of new features, but it does its job reliably and easily. It's hard to ask for much more from a tool I depend on daily.

Finally Federico Vittici on MacStories admits that OmniFocus 2 is no longer for him, but a great tool for many. Consequently he reviews it through the eyes of a Reminders user

OmniFocus is a professional project management tool that's not meant for people like me who are fine with Reminders. While the new app does make things easier, there's still friction caused by longstanding limitations (lack of sharing, complicated settings for views and perspectives). I don't need to switch from Reminders and Fantastical to OmniFocus, but that's just me.

If you're an OmniFocus 1.0 user, the benefits brought by version 2.0 outweigh the few quirks I found in this new release, and I recommend the upgrade.

Tips & Tricks

Many blogs offer great tips and tricks when it comes to OmniFocus and this little outlet does as well. There is a very active community constantly sharing best practices, scripts and hacks. With the release of v2 there are a few new additions to mention.

First of all OmniGroup goes a lot further than many other software developers and offers free and extremely good user manuals for their applications via the iBook Store. Here is the OmniFocus 2 for Mac user manual fresh of the press.

Matthew Guay has written a great guide to OmniFocus 2 for Mac on Tuts+ worth checking out, in particular if you are getting started fresh with the application.

inside-omnifocus

With "Inside OmniFocus" the OmniGroup has also launched a platform where they share stories and best practices of OmniFocus users along with some helpful tips. At present you can find articles from Sabra Morris, Kourosh Dini, David Sparks, Jan-Yves Ruzicka and yours truly on Inside OmniFocus. The posts vary from good overviews to some really nice geekery.

OmniGroup also curated some useful links and tips covering the usage of Evernote, IFTTT and AppleScripts with OmniFocus.

Scripts & Tools

Speaking of scripts and tools you do not want to miss the free Perspective Icons set from Josh Hughes which perfectly matches the OmniFocus 2 design.

omnifocus-perspective-icons

Long-standing OmniFocus scripting guru Curt Clifton has updated two of his most popular scripts to work with OmniFocus 2 for Mac: 'Complete and await reply' as well as 'Populate Template Placeholders'.

Chris Sauve's mother of all OmniFocus templating scripts is also ready to work with v2.

If you have to live through the corporate torture of having to use Microsoft Outlook 2011 my internet buddy Justin Lancy made sure things are not as bad by updating his 'Send Outlook 2011 items to OmniFocus' script right in time.

While many enjoy the white space in the new OmniFocus 2 layout other like a more dense layout with better use of screen estate. Jason Verly shows how the compact layout option is activated using the OmniFocus URL scheme which offers more "hidden" settings documented here.

Big day at OmniGroup today as OmniFocus 2 for Mac ships. Tim Stringer from Learn OmniFocus helps OmniFocus 1 users making the jump with his neat "What's New in OmniFocus 2 for Mac" video.