Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chandler: The Note-to-Self Organizer

I'm always trying out aps to help me organize my time, my to do lists and my mind.  Most are complete busts but Chandler is closest among those that provide calendar functions, assigning date and time, alarms, separating urgent from it-can-wait, and one of my must haves--allowing links to web and computer folders and aps to be associated with tasks.

Chandler is an open source project and has just recently provided 1.0 rendition which indicates it is out of its infancy.  I had high hopes on seeing the screenshots on their site and reading the testimonies of users.  So I downloaded it last night and spent upwards of six hours inputting tasks.  Though it has the ability to import from some other aps like Google calendar and outlook that was of no help to me as my to do lists are in my head, in my WhizFolderDeluxe note taking ap and in my email inbox.

The problems I encountered were not so much the fault of the application's ability to do the tasks I need of it but rather the fault of my eyes and the fact the program has compatibility issues with Windows platforms newer than XP.  Maybe if I wasn't working on a netbook  with a screen whose default font is the size of a mustard seed the vision issue would be moot and I hope in the future they develop an RTF for the notes so I can enlarge fonts, though that wouldn't help with the font in the menus and sidebar.  I assume the compatibility issue with Windows 7 will also be addressed in future builds of Chandler but until it is I don't think I can trust my data to it.  FYI if you are using Linux or Mac Os X you might be in better luck.  As is often the case these open source programs have fewer compatibility issues with those platforms than with Windows.

There was another irritating issue I hope they resolve in the future.  The alarm pop up dialog box causes the cursor to freeze and move like molasses over ice so your work is interrupted while you wait until you can click it away.  Maybe that is one of those Windows compatibility issues.

I also would prefer not to have to type in the date and time especially with those teeny fonts and I've worked with aps and online forms that provide the little calendar for selecting the date and  little popup lists of times to select.  I imagine Chandler will provide that eventually.

And a minor irritant tho minor as a mosquito bite is compared to a wasp sting is the presence of a demo file aka Cllection called US Holidays which they made read only and disallow delete and it is cluttering up my dashboard with two years worth of past holidays in the Done section.  Tho it is may be nice to have the reminders show up in the Now and Later sections as the holidays approach and pass, it is irritating I can't write notes in their note section regarding personal plans for that holiday and it is irritating I have to create a separate Collection called Events to collect Bdays, Anniversaries and other occasions which I would just as soon have grouped in with Holidays and also be able to add non US Holidays.

But since the calendar function--assigning date and time to a task so they are automatically prioritized by the program, moving into place at the appointed time--is the only function my WhizFolder does not provide while also having a smaller footprint, faster opening and closing, font size control and no Windows compatibility issues, I guess I will be sticking with it.

Screenshot of my Whiz Master Task List Outline Collapsed

That task list with all it's nested hierarchy opened is approaching a mile long.  I exaggerate.  Slightly.  Maybe.

I've been fiddling around trying to implement David Allen's Getting Things Done method since last February.  Chandler was the first ap that came close to automating the prioritizing task that I now do manually with Whiz--moving task topics out of the To Do Queue and the Daily/Weekly/Monthly sections into the Today/This Month/This Week sections.

Before you go away thinking that I'm totally dissing Chandler, rest assured I'm not. I wouldn't have bothered writing a review if I'd no admiration for it at all.  If not for the compatibility issues I'd be using Chandler in conjunction with Whiz for prioritizing the upcoming two or three months.  And if I were working on a project with a team or even trying to coordinate schedules and tasks with a family Chandler can do things no other small p project manager can do: It can share data with others and synch data between platforms.  I can imagine how helpful that could be for a couple raising a family, for partners in a small company, or for a community organized event.

Chandler is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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