I've been using this program on/off for two years but have been unable to make it my primary PIM for reasons I will state here. First, however, I'd like to point out that despite my criticism, I LOVE the program and I find the developer to be friendly, responsive (mostly) and deeply concerned about the product. I also think Contactizer wins my personal award as the best designed Cocoa program on OS X.
I depend on a constant flow of tasks (with alarms) to manage my business. I like to be able to think of a task, quickly go to my computer (or Palm) to jot it down then move back to what I was doing. My biggest problem with Contactizer is that entry of any data types (tasks, contacts or calendar items) is far too tedious and rigid. One either must enter data the developer's way or there is no alternative.
Unfortunately, the current method for entering new items is very restrictive and requires far too many mouse clicks. For example, to create a task I need to navigate to the task module, then select either a tiny "plus" button or use a keyboard command. There is no way to create a task while using other parts of the program. There is no way to create a task using a context sensitive menu or by double-clicking on a date, for example. Amazingly, the keyboard command to create a task doesn't work in any other part of the program EXCEPT the task module.
Once I go through all the steps to open a new task window, it opens in the lower left of my screen, never remembering it's previous position. The window should simply open in the dead center of the screen as Apple's HUG's suggest. Because of my large screen, I'm forced to make yet another mouse click to bring the edit window into a comfortable working view for me.
Now, I've got the edit window in view but several things don't work as elegantly as they should. If I want to choose a date for the item with the pop-up date widget it won't automatically disappear when I select a date (or move my mouse away) it requires yet another click to go away.
Setting alarms is perhaps the most frustrating part of making a task. I now need to click on yet another item to make alarms show up. That's not so bad but the program gives me a blank window where I need to click YET AGAIN to create an alarm! Great, two additional clicks just to be able to set the alarm. Now the alarm I created is EMPTY and isn't populated with the due date I already set. So I need to deal with another pop-up date window to set the alarm to match the due date of the item I just created. But wait, the pop-up date selector in the alarm panel has a bug that forces me to click 2x just to make it go away!
Now I'm wanting to set a time for the alarm. I SHOULD be able to tab from the date field to the time field and use my arrow and tab keys to set the time for the alarm. Virtually all other pims work this way. In Entourage, I can set a time and date for any item using only my arrow and tab keys. In Contactizer, the date fields are a mess and don't work as they should. I'm forced to grab my mouse to select the hour text, move to the keyboard, put in a time, now back to the mouse to select the minutes; back to the keyboard to enter a minute selection now back to the mouse to select the AM/PM setting and then FINALLY I'm done creating my task.
So, this is why I cannot use Contactizer as my regular PIM. If I were just entering an occasional item and didn't use alarms I wouldn't care, but for hard-core professional use the interface is far too difficult and tedious to use for serious work. I did a little comparison with Entourage for ease of use when it comes to making a task with an alarm set two days in the future done the way I would normally do it. Here are the results:
-Entourage was able to create the task in 5 mouse clicks when starting with the Contact pane of Entourage showing.
-Contactizer took 18 CLICKS of the mouse to create the SAME TASK with the same alarm starting in the Contact pane of Contactizer!!!!
Here are my suggestions for the developer:
- make edit windows either open in the dead-center of the screen or have them remember where the user wants them
- make all date/time entry fields the same throughout the program and refine them so they can be used exclusively with the up/down/left/right arrow keys. Just like Entourage which has perfect time entry fields.
- Make the alarm fields pre-populated with the dates selected for the task item. Don't force the user to enter the same dates twice for the same task!
- Give users many more options for creating items. How about a menu bar item; double-clicking on a date in the calendar to generate an item; a context sensitive menu item; a dock icon menu. There are SO MANY ways I could think of to offer choices for the user but Contactizer offers absolutely no alternative ways to generate new items.
I have a few other quibbles with the program and I emailed the developer some of these requests/suggestions about two updates ago. My suggestions were well recieved and hopefully they will incorporate my suggestions into the program and make it more comfortable for heavy-duty use. Until then I'm stuck with Entourage.
BTW, I also find the limitation of iCal syncing to be a deal-breaker when using my Palm. What use is it to dump all my data into a generic iCal calendar? If it doesn't sync my categories it's useless to me. Over time I've discovered that Apple's syncing technology is no more than a useless marketing gimmick. I wish Contactizer would write a proper Palm conduit like Entourage and Daylite have but I'm not going to hold my breath.