Work inspiration with Brent Simmons

Generic placeholder image

Brent Simmons

Omni Group and Ranchero Software

I work at Omni Group on OmniFocus and OmniOutliner for Mac; I’m a partner at Q Branch where I write Vesper; and I’m one-half of Ranchero Software, the small business my wife and I own. Ranchero Software doesn’t currently have any shipping apps, but I expect that to change some day.

I write a blog at Since 1999. (I thought I was late to blogging, at the time!)

How did you get started as a writer and developer?

My parents were both programmers. In 1980 they bought an Apple II Plus and then taught me BASIC. My Mom in particular was very adamant about teaching me the principles of programming — how to be lazy in the right way, what elegant code is, and so on.

I’m a writer because I love reading and writing. The software I’ve made has often reflected that love.

What are you working on now?

At this exact moment I’m taking a break from working on OmniFocus for Mac. My days are split between OmniOutliner and OmniFocus, two apps I used for many years before joining Omni.

(Of the two, Outliner — a writing tool — is my favorite.)

What software and hardware do you use for your work?

Xcode, BBEdit, Terminal, HipChat, OmniBugZapper, OmniCrashSorter, OmniStatusBoard, Versions, Mail, Xscope, Acorn, BusyCal.

For my blog I use MarsEdit. Love MarsEdit.

At Omni I use a 15-inch retina laptop and a 27” monitor. (I’d rather not talk about what hardware I have in my house.)

What is your ideal work environment?

Multiple monitors, a fast computer, a guitar, and no distractions. (The guitar helps me think.)

Who are the creatives you admire most?

This could be a really, really long list! F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, J.D. Salinger, Ursula K. LeGuin, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Martin Amis, Joe Strummer, Flaubert, C?zanne, Philip Roth, Susan Sontag. And on and on.

In our industry, my heroes are the people who were indie Mac developers when I was starting out: Dave Winer, Mark Alldritt, Peter Lewis, Rich Siegel.