[Design] What's the 'pony in the product'?
cubranic at cs.ubc.ca
Sun Dec 30 18:17:49 PST 2007
I finally found a bit of time to read through the whole discussion in one piece, so I hope it's not too late to add my thoughts on the subject. Following up on Andre's email summarizing main points made in this thread, let me list some of the "ponies" that have been proposed, and the important hurdles, as I see them, that Chandler faces to be a viable player in that niche. These are either fundamental limitations imposed by existing design and technology, or missing functionality that will probably take significant effort to implement -- all the bug fixing and UI tweaking for improved usability is completely glossed over. :-)
But before I begin, I have to say that *even though* I use Chandler by myself and started using it because of its goals as a PIM, I found Phillip's arguments more compelling. Looking at these ponies, it just seems like a) small-group calendaring (or, more accurately, calendaring-plus-other-collaborative-stuff) is more easily reachable; and b) there is room for Chandler to carve out its own niche in this area.
Now here is the list:
"Cross-silo" collection of information and "the source of truth":
To really do this, Chandler would have to tightly integrate with the platform and its basic sources of information: mail app, web browser, the filesystem. This is possible, but unfortunately very platform specific, and so was pretty much written off as a goal the second OSAF chose cross-platform capability and wxWindows as its building blocks. (It might have been doable in a cross-platform manner by joining the Firefox+Thunderbird ecosystem.)
Without this tight integration, what are we left with? Chandler can access IMAP mail folders, to a certain extent, but it's not meant for use it as the main mail client. Any other bit of information has to be manually copied into Chandler, and if it exists anywhere else will need to be maintained in two places. Chandler cannot refer to local files, and it doesn't know about URLs and hyperlinks, so if I have references to such items in Chandler, I will need to cut and paste them to another application to open them.
"How it's done": EccoPro can embed any file type, which can then be edited with its application (probably other recent Windows PIMs can do the same stuff, using OLE/DDE.); URL or mail address can be opened by double-clicking. iGTD integrates pretty tightly with Mail and iCal on the Mac, and the OS lets you do a lot with other apps. Devonthink can store and view anything, including web page clips, add cross-references and structure, not to mention its searching and classification capabilities.
Join an existing PIM "cult":
Chandler would have to offer either a faithful implementation of an existing methodology in an attractive and easy to use package (like iGTD) or be flexible and configurable enough that users can customize it to fit that methodology (like Ecco or OmniOutliner with kGTD). I think we can all agree that it fits neither of these two categories.
Chandler as a new kind of information and task management tool:
I think Chandler currently misses a few features that would are rather crucial for effective task and information management. The foremost among those is having a quick overview of current and upcoming tasks, i.e., sorting within list views. Other important features would be, in no particular order: filtering, customizable columns in list views, linking of related tasks (e.g., as outlines/hierarchies), custom attributes (e.g., as tags), better editing capabilities within the notes field.
"How it's done": as Phillip noted, this is a very packed and long-existing niche. Pick your own target for comparison, there are tons of them that do the job quite well
Calendaring and collaboration:
I should note that really like Chandler's calendar view and spend most of the time in it. This could be because of the limitations of the list view I mentioned above, but at any rate it might colour my positive perception of it as a calendaring tool.
Missing basic calendaring features: drop-down calendars for editing data fields; full UI for event recurrences
Missing collaboration features (based on comments here and personal observation, not my experience as I don't use Chandler for collaboration): finer-grained access rights, smoother signing-up, more discoverable sync conflicts, being able to mount Cosmo as a remote (webdav) folder, easy definition of groups/teams of users, better sharing workflow when the both parties are Cosmo users
some of the competitors: Zimbra (calendaring and messaging), Remember the Milk (shareable task management), Goolgle Calendar
To sum up, it seems like the latter two areas (Chander as a new PIM and small-group calendaring) are both reachable, but not concurrently within in the available time and resource limits. It's ultimately OSAF's decision which one to target, but I hope this email makes it a little easier to keep the discussion going towards a happy resolution.
Happy New Year to everybody,
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Design