I thought Daylite 3.7 by Marketcircle was just another PIM, kind of like Microsoft’s Outlook or Entourage. Daylite is not just another PIM; it is a business tool that organizes your data better than any other application I have ever used.
Currently, I am part of FiniteComedy.com, a small video production company that makes video for the web. Creating and producing video content creates tons of projects that require plenty of attention.
My Old System
I had been using a kludge of applications to keep myself organized. I regularly used a combination of Google Calendar + iCal integration and GMail and its Contacts feature. I’ve experimented with 37signals and its Highrise web application — Highrise is an online address book, contact manager, task list web application; I don’t believe it has a calendar. It is a fine web application, but for some reason it never stuck with me.
I have also had a lot of past experience using Microsoft Outlook, but hardly used Entourage.
Enter Daylite: Installation
Installation is done via an installer (no a drag and drop install here). It takes up 141MB of space. While installing, Daylite asks if you want to create your own database or take a look at other databases to get a feel for Daylite in action. I created my own database. At that point, I did not know exactly what I was doing, but I figured I could learn as I go. A “database” in this context is just a term for your Daylite set up. Daylite also asks for personal information and you can import your address book and iCal information. You can also import all or some of your iCal calendars. Those of you who have jumped on board with Google CalDAV integration will be annoyed to know you cannot import these calendars.
The last step is choosing from a template. There are a number of specialized templates to choose from including Film & Video, Law, Print & Design and more. There are also blank and General templates. Each template contains some presets for categories, keywords and settings. I tried General to get a better overall feel for the program.
Life with Daylite: First Thoughts
I started using Daylite like I would any program. I just jumped right in. First I wanted to create a new contact. The default toolbar has often used (or the most useful) functions. When I hit the “New Contact” button, a window pops up with plenty of options for any contact.
After a couple minutes of use, I saw that Daylite provides you with a wealth of options in presenting you your data. To some this may be daunting. In my opinon, this is the kind control that is needed to keep track of multiple projects and data. Connecting projects to contacts is a snap. Just add some one to the “Linked” section. That way, when you look at a project, you can find whoever is connected to that project. Projects can also be linked to to-do lists.
Daylite also puts in an icon in the menu bar with quick access to create new contacts, appointments, notes and more while you are not in the actual program. Daylite is very stable and crashed only once during the testing period.
Daylite has an odd way of searching. The search field looks like a spotlight search, but you must hit enter to get results. Not a big gripe, but I thought it was odd (or at least inconsistent with the Mac interface nowadays) that the results did not populate as you type.
It seems that every bit of information in Daylite can be displayed in at least three different ways depending on how much information you want up on the screen at one time. Personally, I like seeing as much information as I can on someone or some event to get a bigger picture on what I’m doing.
Life with Daylite: Project Management
I have never been completely satisfied with the project management solutions I have tried. The best thing I had found to manage projects and link them to contacts is just using a dry erase marker and my whiteboards. It is an inelegant solution that does not provide any of the comforts of a computer-based solution, but it kind of works except for space issues.
Daylite has excellent project management capabilities. I am currently trying to set up a live taping of “ChannelFlip Tech” and some other shows at the Digital Life Show held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City this September. There are several elements to this project. There is my contact at Digital Life, my co-host and his schedule, potential sponsors, and material for the show.
Setting up the project is simple. Create a new project and input some data like a name for the project and due date. It is the “Linked” field that I found the most helpful. You can link a project to a contact, an organization or a group. The Digital Life project can be linked to my contact at Digital Life, my co-host, sponsors and any one else who has a contact file.
Daylite’s project window shows you your different projects and you can choose to see the data in different ways. You can get a feel for your projects at a glance. I am not completely familiar with every feature yet, but I know there are many other customizations that could make Daylite more useful for my particular needs.
Daylite: The Rest of the Features
There are some very good components to Daylite. There is a calendar that works as you would expect any calendar program to work. It does allow smart calendars which is nice. Events can be categorized, although they can be assigned to only one category at a time.
There is an Appointments feature that takes your calendar data and lays it out like the Contacts section. It is pretty much an alternative view to just looking at the standard calendar.
Contacts are presented in a similar way to projects. You can see your contact list, selecting a contact will show you what is linked to that contact. I am using the “General” template so there is plenty of data fields already. Contacts also support smart contact lists. I am a big fan of smart lists that actively change as information changes. It saves a lot of time over the long run. The “Organizations” feature is similar to the contacts, just organized by organization instead of individuals.
“Opportunities.” You can add a New Opportunity to the Opportunities section of the application. I have never seen this kind of function before. This feature is obviously geared towards a business. Since I am pursuing advertisers and sponsors, this is a great section. Once an opportunity is acted upon, you can create a project. “Opportunities” is like a pre-Project zone.
There is also a “Notes” feature. I have never been a big fan of notes outside of putting notes in appointment data or in a contact file. You can link notes to contacts or projects. This seems to be the best way in Daylite to add notes to Projects. This allows for greater organization of notes as the note appears linked to the project, and the project appears linked to the note.
Daylite is one of the best solutions I have used to manage information. However, it is not something everyone needs. If you want to use Daylite as an iCal replacement, then it is overkill. This is software built for a small business that wants to manage its contacts, calendars and projects well. Daylite is priced at $149 US for 1 user, $745 US for 5 users and $1490 for 10 users.