So Things 3 looks sort of nice... (help!)

So Things 3 looks sort of nice... (help!)


It looks so simple and refreshing.

Would someone please save me from my addiction to fiddling?

Trying Things 3 for Two Weeks

i’d love to help you but i also need somebody to save me.)

(Wilson Ng) #3

Things 3 is beautiful. OmniFocus 2 and Things 3 will target different types of users. There are many things that each app does that the other doesn’t do.

Things 3 reminds me of the introduction of OmniFocus 2. It is basically a rewrite from the ground up. It probably uses modern APIs that were not present when Things 1 and OmniFocus 1 came out. Major advancements in APIs and technologies demanded a rewrite instead of building on an old foundation that was showing its age.

After reading a bunch of the twitter feeds, it sounds like:

  1. It is a rewrite of Things. A few interface tweaks but no real features added. OmniFocus 2 had the same journey. Over time, OmniFocus 2 has slowly added features that makes it miles ahead of Things 3. I think this is where Things 3 is right now. It’s a start and we’ll probably see new features added slowly over time. It’s amazing how far along OmniFocus 2 has gone in the past couple of years.

  2. I like the new user interface and inventive gestures such as the Add button. Very clever.

  3. No real end-to-end encryption. Good luck if you value your security. OmniFocus 2 has this down pat.

  4. A common complaint shared with OmniFocus is the lack of collaborative features. Things users still not happy that this isn’t implemented yet. But it is no surprise because collaboration is not as simple as it sounds Todoist users are staying with their app because they want/need collaboration or list sharing.

  5. Tags is always a big attraction to Things. But I’m guessing that a future OmniFocus will have the multiple tags feature that has been requested so much.

  6. The calendar with task list is a nice user interface. I think this is what a lot of OmniFocus 2 users have been asking for. Something that is a little more robust than the current forecast perspective.

  7. Still surprised that Things 3 doesn’t have attachments to tasks yet.

  8. A future version of OmniFocus 2 will have timed reminders coming soon. This will probably make my reliance on the Due app obsolete. Things 3 has a limited timed reminder feature.

  9. Repeating to-do’s can’t be a part of a project in Things 3.

  10. I haven’t really heard much of callback URL schemes to help interface with Things 3. I could be wrong because I’m no expert in this field. I think there is a limited set that will work with Workflow.

  11. Only one level of sub-tasks is a common complaint in Things 3. Personally I don’t really want more than one level of sub-tasks. It makes my projects too unwieldy. But I can understand if someone else might want more than one level of sub-tasks in a project.

  12. No dark mode implemented in Things 3 yet.

  13. Swipe to select multiple tasks is kinda cool in Things 3.

  14. Things 3 doesn’t have sequential and parallel tasks in a project. Some OmniFocus 2 users might find this a a turn-off if they try Things 3.

  15. Cultured Code seems to have a smaller group of developers working on it. I think the one developer from the old iGTD app joined forces with Cultured Code to come up with Things 3. It scares me that there is no real display of tech support beyond what they’ve put out on Twitter. I’m sorry but I can’t agree that Twitter is a good place for tech support. There are many complex bugs that can’t be explained in less than 140 characters.

  16. 2Do has a smart list feature and OmniFocus 2 has custom perspectives. I guess you can click on tags to show different contexts and/or projects. But I love having custom perspectives available at the click of the mouse button.

  17. Where is Cultured Code’s tech support? I’ve always loved the Omnigroup user forums with an active group of users who share hints and tips about what they’ve discovered. This group shares their experiences and offer workarounds to help others. Omnigroup developers are also commonly seen replying on Twitter as well as the forum site. This is an excellent display of tech support from a dedicated team. I hope Cultured Code will see the value of having a user forum and actively interacting with its users. Maybe they’ve been so busy trying to re-write Things that they had to put tech support on life support. Hopefully they’ll come back to providing better tech support beyond Twitter.

  18. OmniFocus has a mail drop feature to send tasks via e-mail to our OmniFocus 2 inbox. Sadly, Things 3 doesn’t have this feature.

  19. Support for TaskPaper is something that OmniFocus 2 has and Things 3 doesn’t have.

  20. Location reminders and geofencing are available in OmniFocus 2 for iOS but not in Things 3 for iPad and iPhone.

Overall, Things 3 looks like the new girl that walked into the classroom and all the boys’ heads swiveled to see her. There are many people interested in meeting her. Then there are those who say “meh, looks nice but I’m good.”

The question is “can you afford to spend time trying to convert over to Things 3?” I’ve already gotten most of my OmniFocus 2 workflow all settled after much experimentation. Having to rewrite my habits by using a new app such as Things 3 will weight heavily upon me. I just can’t afford the downtime I need to spend to get back up to speed with Things 3.

Yes, I might buy Things 3 but it’s mostly just to play with. I like playing with new user interfaces but I just can’t see myself breaking away from OmniFocus 2. I’ve already flirted with Things 2. Then I flirted with 2Do. I kept coming back to OmniFocus 2.

You can always download the free 15-day trial from the Cultured Code web site just to see it in action or watch the various YouTube videos that will inevitably show up. For now, I’m comfortable enough in OmniFocus 2. I just can’t imagine switching over to Things 3. There isn’t any one feature set that would definitely make me jump over.

But I am glad that Things 3 will probably a good fit for many users who don’t need the power and complexity of OmniFocus 2. Things 3 looks more like a powerful task manager with an emphasis on checklists.

I think the ability to save smart lists in 2Do and custom perspectives in OmniFocus 2 gives these 2 apps the ability to save common searches or views that can be easily accessible. Todoist’s web interface and collaborative features makes it perfect for teams or users who want to share projects.

We’ll find different apps for different purposes. While Things 3 is pretty, it isn’t quite enough to make me want to switch over.

Part of the journey is exploring and trying out the different apps to see which one fits you best today. In the future, our demands and needs will change and we can switch accordingly.


I started out with Things way back in the day.

But the simplicity of it is so damn appealing. The upcoming view is fantastic. And I like that items that get scooped up into the Today view don’t fall off in the way that they do in the OF forecast view. The idea of being free from always seeking a better setup or perspective that would solve all of my problems is also appealing.

I also really like that it doesn’t mind if you have a bunch of next actions that aren’t affiliated with projects, and it doesn’t make you feel bad for not using contexts.

And drag and drop to reorganize a today view…fantastic.

There are a ton of little things that they get so right.

But I left because of big things.

Their development cycle is GLACIAL, and they are not transparent about progress AT ALL. I’m hesitant to subject myself to that abusive relationship again.

Also, I’m not sure how well the system could scale to handle the sheer amount of stuff I throw into my system.

I think in a lot of ways, your analogy of being the pretty new face in class is right on. And a pretty face isn’t enough for a solid marriage.

(The Old Designer) #5

I read the hype, downloaded a trial version, it lasted 30 minutes. Yes it looks nice, has some clever touches but firstly no API so modern integration schemas are virtually impossible.

As already stated no attachments, no mail in and recurring tasks can not be completed early.

In 2017 to have a walled garden approach to software seems wrong, especially when a task management app needs to talk to other apps and services. This was one of the reasons I moved to ToDoist from OF, I now have forms submit directly into my task manager, slack integrates, client updated trello cards update my personal ToDoist list etc etc. This type of integration allows me compete with larger better funded businesses in a way walled garden apps could not, and this more than any other is why I think as beautiful as Things 3 is function wins over form any time.

Oh and the promise that a fix is coming for recurring tasks “soon” after a 4 year dev cycle would be enough to make me very sceptical indeed.

(Joe Buhlig) #6

I need to spend some time with these awesome responses, but I did find this article about Things 3 by Drew Coffman interesting.


That article you posted @joebuhlig is exactly where I’m sitting at the moment.

The benefits of the available power of OmniFocus isn’t lost on me, but man I wish they would invest a bit more of their effort in making OF have a better UX across all platforms. Compared to nearly every other app it’s just a mess to use (visually). No shortcuts for adding dates, contexts, durations. All of that has to be done by infinitely tabbing through all the fields. The visual cruft is massive as you add projects and folders, etc…

While Things 3 isn’t perfect in the shortcut department (2Do is darn close IMO), it’s a much better experience than OF.

The other benefit to me of Things 3 vs OF is on iOS. Things 3 on iOS makes it a breeze to manage your tasks. I can edit multiple items, move them, change dates, tags, etc… On OF for iOS it’s just a chore and I’ve let it lapse into simply being available if I need to throw a thought in there or view my tasks for today, but all my major management has to happen on the Mac. Which is disappointing.

All that to say, I don’t know whether I’ll stick with Things 3 or whether I’ll go back to OF. It will depend on how multi-editing, multiple contexts, and reminders show up in OF and how quickly Cultured Code adds the recurring tasks to Projects.

Cultured Code’s glacial pace of development is also something I’m worried about. Either way, Things 3 is working for what I need, and I’m enjoying it. So we’ll see how that lasts. :smiley:

(Fritz Klug) #8

Thank you all for these posts. There’s a lot I like about Things, but don’t think I’ll be switching over. I used Omnifocus for years, went to 2Do and then Todoist. I went back to Omnifocus a couple months ago. I’m not always ooooed and aweeeed by it, but it gets the job done. The one thing that kept me from trying really Things is the developer’s history of not updating the app.

I really would like Omnifocus to have a “focus” mode (different from the current one). It would be similar to the UI of Things. Spend some time in the morning in Omnifocus then switch on Focus mode to get things done. I think that would be great for iOS.

(Wilson Ng) #9

I was interested in the collaboration features in Todoist. Was there something about Todoist or 2Do that was missing or was there something that was in OmniFocus that brought you back to OmniFocus?

(Joe Buhlig) #11

Ok. I have some time. Here we go. :wink:

This is a solid yes from Ken Case at the OmniGroup. Scroll down in the below article to see the roadmap for OmniFocus.

That same post has this reference as well. And it’s something I’m really looking forward to. I use Due daily. I only hope that they give some consideration to the UI used to create repeating reminders.

This is something I feel I’m seeing more often. Not necessarily as drawn out as the Things 3 release but software companies in general that kick out solid, long-term apps/websites seem to be on longer release cycles. I don’t know if that’s due to more testing or just overhead.

:joy: This seems to be the consensus I’ve run across. There are a few who love it but I often wonder if that has more to do with an interest in “new and shiny” than it does a solid product.

@kennonb, are you referring to iOS or macOS? I’ve never truly considered the iOS version a standalone app. I’ve always felt that the Mac version was the hub and the iPhone was a window into my task lists. The phone is where I do the checking off and capturing. It’s not typically the place where I process tasks. That may be a result of this observation but it’s never surfaced as an issue for me.

I think that if it helps you get your junk checked off, go for it. :thumbsup:


That quote was in reference to Mac but it’s kind of the same for iOS. I think OmniGroup could benefit from a re-thinking of the UX for OF for both Mac and iOS.

Overall I think Mac is good and passable but iOS really is like you described, it’s a viewer, which is a shame.

(Joe Buhlig) #13

Now that some of the smoke has settled with Things 3 I think it’s interesting to see how folks are still using (or not using) it. @drewcoffman is a great example of sticking with it. Apparently, it lives up to some of the hype long-term.


Thanks for sharing. I just commented on the mpu Facebook group that my head says Omnifocus, but my heart says Things 3.

Last week I started using a Workflow workflow to add my daily routine and review tasks to Omnifocus rather than keeping them in the database gumming up the works. And it worked really well.

That’s a point in favor of Omnifocus.

I think though that there can be a real benefit to less automation. It’s really easy to cram tons of stuff into an app without thinking about it to the point where the app becomes useless.

I did that with Evernote way back when.

Having to interact with the system and it’s compoonent parts might be part of what makes it work.

You don’t have to rely on your brain, but your brain is more aware of what is going on in the big picture.

I feel like I need an intervention.


There is still a lot to like about Things 3 for me, but I did stop using it. I’m actually jumping back and forth between OmniFocus 2 and 2Do.

I found Things 3 to have too much friction in organization of longer running projects and recurring tasks. Plus I really needed some automation for exporting regular task reports of what I’ve worked on. I got close with a shell script that directly exported from Things’ sqlite db, but I could never get it to be as nice as what I have with OmniFocus and 2Do.

Anyway, I still really like how clean Things 3 is (I want to use it so badly), and I think their iOS apps are top-notch. But it just started falling apart over a week of work. I’m eagerly awaiting what Omni does with their new iOS apps in Q4 (multiple editing, tags, and better recurring tasks).

(Joe Buhlig) #16

I’ve been playing around with the idea of a Setapp subscription which comes with 2Do. I don’t see it as something I would adopt full-time, but I’ve been curious about using it for a daily to-do list. But it likely won’t happen. Too many pain points in that process. I’d be interested in a write-up of how you make the two work together. :wink:


Yea, I would like to do a write up on that. I’ve found a fairly good setup with 2Do that works well for me. Still features in OmniFocus that I miss, which is why I keep flopping back and forth. But there’s so much good in 2Do too. D:

(Curtis Spendlove) #18

This is a somewhat entertaining topic to me as I recently bought myself Things 3 as a birthday gift. It’s really pretty, and the UX is kinda magical.

I love OmniFocus as well, but it has just gotten too heavy for me lately. As a software development team lead (for several teams) I tend to not be able to get away from silos. (I’m looking at you, GutHub.)

To make it worse, I work for a consulting firm so we kinda have to adjust to the flows our clients are using. I’m actually monitoring codebases across GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.

I also track my own side-projects, as any good self-shaming developer should do. :wink:

So…2018 is the year of figuring all this crap out. I’m hoping to build some sort of flow with the Email to Things feature (same could be done with OmniFocus’ email feature).

An Online Commonplace
(Joe Buhlig) #19

At one point I considered a GitHub task management flow. Simply because I spend so much time with it, I thought it would make sense to keep my task management and higher level goals there as well. But I never took the time to figure out the feasibility of such a project.

Definitely let us know what you land on. I’ve been hearing rumors of more and more people moving to Things lately. Granted, that was prior to the OmniFocus 3 announcements.

(Wilson Ng) #20

I’m happy that people switched to Things 3 because it might fit their needs better than OmniFocus 2. But we’ve heard enough stories of folks switching between apps after a few months of frustration with the existing app. I had to unfollow someone on Twitter because they switched so quickly between Things, Todoist, and OmniFocus. I wanted to see why someone changed so quickly. I don’t know if I really learned anything beyond the idea that some users will never find that perfect app. If a productivity system or app can do 80-90% of what I want, I’ll stick with it and fill in the gaps with other apps or an AppleScript.

(Curtis Spendlove) #21

So far, I’m very happy with Things. I like the interface a tad more. But all of that is ultimately inconsequential. I think some (myself included) tend toward thinking that an app is going to save us, when it is really finding a workflow and sticking to it that is likely the true answer.

I read about the OmniFocus 3 redesign a couple days after posting my comment above. Heh. By that time I’d already jumped feet-first into the Things wading pool.

I like that OF3 is minimizing contexts (it was always my friction point in GtD). Tags in Things work much better for me. I think that change alone would have brought OF3 back into the workflow for me.

In fact, instead of using GitHub (or any other VCS SaaS) as my core system, I’ve decided to use them all as “feeders”. I’m using “Email to Things” for this, but it is actually less robust than the OF email input gateway. It is sufficient, as I’ve considerably trimmed down the notification preferences in the VCS SaaS services. And I get decently organized items into Things.

I’m using this for all external inputs to Things. I’ll try to share some actual details of the system here in the near future for anyone interested. Still fine-tuning a few things and hoping it doesn’t all fall apart. :wink:

So…this is the “kicker”, right? When I first saw the OmniGroup year in review and what to look forward to in 2018 post I was irritated. I thought, “well I can always use Things for a while and go back when OF3 is released.”

But I laughed and just shrugged it off. I’ve since realized (as mentioned above) that both apps will work fine for what I need. OF2 may actually still be a bit better than Things due to having more options to format a task from their email gateway. But there isn’t an amazing amount of control offered by the originating services tossing the tasks in via the email gateway anyway, so it isn’t a huge deal.

I told myself I was trying Things this year, and I’m sticking to that. I have a feeling the meaningful parts of my workflow will be largely “task app” agnostic anyway.