Well, I just flew in to drizzly San Francisco, to prepare for the MacWorld expo. I shared a plane with master Mac writer and aficionado Schoun Regan.; if you call “sharing a plane” him getting bumped to first class (something about traveling about a billion miles each year) and eating omelets and being served drinks while I was stuck back with the coach traveling unwashed masses, fighting for elbow space to scarf down my Special-K cereal. But I’m not bitter or anything. We’ve known each other for years in the Mac industry, and my wife is a flight attendant – thus like all of them, she knows Schoun as well. I had to fly in early (Saturday) as the flights on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were all booked; I’m going to take that as a little symbol of how popular MacWorld Expo is becoming – that even the U.S. overcapacity in the airline business can’t keep up with the masses coming to see the new products. .
After getting fed, I had my first; semi-review. It is hard to do real in-depth reviews and product comparisons under the bright lights and big rush of expo fervor; the deeper product reviews will come later. But you can get some ideas of what is coming, and introductions to new products or updates of products. And I already got some time to sit down and talk with Alykhan Jetha (AJ) President of Marketcircle, and makers of Daylite contact manager; while AJ enthusiastically demoed the “to be announced” (Monday) public beta of the new 3.0 version of Daylite. The product leaps from version 1.9 to 3.0 because it is such a massive rewrite and addition in functionality.
So what is Daylite, you ask? Well you could go to their website http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/ to find out. Their website will be updated on Monday with all the 3.0 version information. But I guess it’s sort of my job to at least give you a hint. And for the v1.9 it is an easier question to answer; a way to scale up from Address Book and iCal, into a more powerful small group, collaborative CRM tool (Customer Resource Management) – for those that don’t want to deal with all the complexities of larger CRM tools. So this is basically a way to share address book (contacts), schedule events (calendar), along with the addition of some project management and workflow management for small Mac-Only business. This product is Mac only, and is a Cocoa App, not some port – which means many of the interface elements are first rate Cocoa type (familiar to Mac-heads) without the interface quirks that ports often come with. The downside is that if you’re a mixed environment, collaborating across platforms, you’re probably going to have to look for something else.
Daylite3 adds not only a new look and feel, but a lot of new features. The group management functions are newer/better and help you work with more people or on more projects at once. And many new features have been littered throughout to make it better at the project management, contact management and collaboration features. That’s sort what makes this product so unique; it isn’t trying to replace the high end Project Management tools, or the Enterprise level GroupWise/Exchange type contact management tools. But because it isn’t an “enterprise” application, targeted at thousands of users, or offering you tens of thousands of features in a specialty area of business, it is a very good general and small business tool that crosses many different areas. So this product sacrifices that scalability, in order to be much simpler to use and understand in the 1-50 users size organizations. And it lets you quickly learn a process for high level contact management and project management, and can still be flexible enough to adapt to your specific needs – without a huge learning curve. Because the company doesn’t fit purely into the other terms alone, they like to call what they do “productivity management”.
I thought many of the features were cool and easy to understand – like when you’re trying to schedule a meeting, and it shows you the open-time or blocked time for all the participants, so that you could schedule around them. (This works in the scheduler and calendar mode as well.) But those kind of features dictate the design of Daylite which is a client-server model; meaning it works best in a direct connection network environment; with near immediate updates and collaboration messages propagating on the network in real-time. It does have some features for snapshotting the database and taking it with you (for the road-warriors), with some synchronization functions when you return to the net – and while that isn’t always seamless, it is a very practical and simple to understand solution.
I would definitely think that if you’re trying to find a Mac-only small team/company contact and simple project/contact management tool, or if you’re bumping your head against the limitations of address book and calendar, that you consider and do a serious evaluation of Daylite. It has some unique ideas and overlaps a few markets at once… but if that fits with your needs, it could be an efficient time saver and money-making tool.