[chandler-users] contact management

Benjamin Wilreker roadwarrior at indril.com
Sat May 10 20:14:39 PDT 2008


This email is in response to Mr. Martoprawiro's
inquiry about contact management.  I have been using
chandler about 9 months now.  I have a collection
named "Contacts."  Each contact is a chandler note
titled after the name of the contact using a Last
Name, First Name nomenclature.  The contact list in
the collection is sorted by title, thus creating an
alpha-by-last-name list of contacts for easy browsing.
 The details of the contact info (i.e. email address,
phone number, birthdate) appear in the text field for
each contact.  Most of these contacts are cross-listed
in other appropriate collections (i.e. research
contacts are cross-listed with the appropriate
research project collection.)  Some personal contacts
and friends only appear in "contacts."

Strengths of this approach:
- It is simple and context dependent.  I always have
the contacts I need for a particular project sitting
in front of me.  In practice I seldom use my global
contacts list - I use the collection-associated
contacts frequently.
- Because there are no defined fields, each record can
be modified to suit the nature of the contact.  As I
skim the contacts I'm working with right now, I see
one contact that "Reads Middle Egyptian" and another
one that "Likes to get cards/gifts for groundhog day
(feb 2)"
- If necessary, the contact can be used as a task,
although in practice I tend to create new tasks
instead.

Weaknesses of this approach:
- Chandler has no way to designate an item as a notice
and not an action item. I set my contacts as "later"
and set the collection so that the items do not appear
in my dashboard.  In major projects with dozens of
collaborators, this becomes an issue, because the
contacts marked as "later" are indistinguishable from
waiting tasks (also noted as "later"), and from
non-contact, non-action items (i.e. a works cited
list) that also appear as "later."
- Because I am using the open text field, there is no
prompting for particular types of information (i.e.
"Children's names")  I can't tell you how many times
I've forgotten to collect an important piece of
information because there was no blank field to be
filled in.  Eventually I created a blank contact with
a list of frequently used fields that I could copy and
paste into new contacts when I created them.
- Chandler is not a main line email client.  Because
the notes field does not allow hypertext markup, I
can't create a mailto: command that would open my
default email client, in this case Thunderbird,
directly from my "contact."
- Since I am using the notes field, obviously the data
can only be entered by hand, and cannot be exported or
imported to/from other applications using a commonly
recognized format.

Just a few thoughts.  I hope that some of these
features can be added to chandler soon!

Best,

Benjamin C. Wilreker
Department of Human Behavior
College of Southern Nevada


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