It's always fun when we come across a program that can actually be used with handhelds running different OS. We can then write what we call a "dual review". It's fun for our readers too, because you get to read two reviews in the same page, and see different points of view. This time we check out Ilium Software's ListPro 4.0 for Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Palm OS. You'll find both reviews in this page.
All PDA come with at least a minimum of "organiser"-style applications, including datebook, contacts and to do list. Why you need more? Simply put, because you need flexbility. Lots of users need a way to keep track of tasks, collections, TV episodes, etc, but don't want a full database program. On the other hand the Tasks application on Windows Mobile Pocket PC is quite limited in its simplicity.
ListPro 4.0 is quite an ingenious application. You can create lists from a predefined set of templates, add or remove fields, define the type of fields being added and give each one a special feature. Just an example, date fields can be manual, Today, calculated from another field.
The interesting thing is how flexible this can be. You can also create and maintain multiple lists per file, or even have multiple files (per project perhaps) each containing multiple lists. Templates are available from Ilium Software website, and users can submit their templates to make them available from the site. Just check a few templates available for download:
Collectibles, Games and Trading Cards
Examples and Templates
Foreign Language Lists
General Reference and Information
Hobbies and Recreation
Personal Reference and Information
Regional and Travel Reference and Information
Special Interest and Occupational
Sports Schedules and Information
TV Episode Guides
I should add one I'm working on right now, and will be used in this review: wedding list. Apparently this is a very complicated project to manage .
In this example I'll create the list on my desktop and synchronise to my Pocket PC. As expected, creating a list can be performed on your desktop or directly from your Pocket PC (as you'll see in some screenshots later). Synchronisation is at file level, meaning that you can't change one record on your device and another on your desktop without creating a conflict. I've asked Ilium software about this, and the reason for this style of synchronisation is the multiple data formats (user selected) being used.
The program gives the ability to filter entries, sort in specific order by field, add amount fields (very handy for budgets!), and other smart things. You can also indent entries, move up and down, expand or colapse branches, hiding the indented (nested) entries. Categories can be assigned to each entry, and you can highlight each category or entry with a different colour.
One great feature is the folder structure. Users can create multiple folders, and multiple lists or folders within folders. It makes organising the whole thing very simple. You can also select a folder, list or item and drag-and-drop between items.
I really enjoy using some of the Ilium Software products, including eWallet. I think I'll add ListPro to my collection of software permanently installed on my Pocket PC . You can get it from Handango and the software is also available for Windows Mobile Smartphone.
Starting a new list Wizard
Choose a template
Add or remove fields
Change field properties if needed
Name the list
The list properties dialog, where lists can be changed if needed
The data dialog, used to enter information
A (not yet complete) wedding list
Using one of the functions to find the total for a field type Amount
In the images below you can see the same operation being carried out on a Pocket PC. Note how similar the screens are. Actually once you use one of the versions of this program there's no mystery in using other versions.
To create a list on your Pocket PC, you can start from a template
I've been playing with this software for just under a week now, and it popped up at just the right time. With a move to Wellington coming up I had plenty of lists to make and a trusty Palm to help me. In the past I had always used Progect, a free project manager for the Palm. So, intent to see how the commercial competitors compared, I installed ListPro 4.0. The trusty Palm has since had the digitiser go west, hence the Simulator screenshots.
The first difference is, of course, the desktop software. I'm a keen user of Illium's eWallet, and part of that enthusiasm comes from being able to enter the majority of my data using my desktop PC. ListPro offers a desktop component which effectively mirrors the Palm software, down to a similar interface with consistent conventions. It's dead easy to bounce between the two, and once you can use one the other explains itself. None of the free offerings I am aware of come with come with a desktop component, so ListPro's already in the lead.
It seemed a good idea to start by converting my ToDo list (or Tasks as it's now called on the T3). Unfortunately I couldn't find an import function, so had to copy and paste across. This is vexing with 15 items on the list and could be impractical for larger amounts. Luckily, my annoyance evaporated when I saw the options for creating lists.
First advantage over Tasks – multiple lists. And while you can do this in Progect, ListPro allows you to order the lists using
folders. A small but very handy feature.
Forget your simple check box and text – ListPro offers a range of tools for your lists. Three state check box and a flag field were a great start, and priority listings, constrained value fields, dates and numbers just added to the fun. One limitation – each list can only have one of each some tool. You aren't able to create lists with 2 check boxes for example. However each list can have multiple number and string fields. Lists are very easy to create with a wizard offering you the chance to pick from a template (of which a decent amount are supplied, and you can create or download more) and then customise it with a number of the other tools. One handy tool is the amound field. ListPro not only adds up the amount and displays it in the status bar (desktop) or totals view (Palm), but you can specify that the amount needs to be entered when an item is checked or flagged.
Once created, you end up with a spreadsheet style view, with column names at the top and rows of data below. One difference however – you can indent individual rows. I was rather surprised that there's no apparent object hierarchy – any object can be indented any amount, rather that in many outlining tools where objects are indented from their parents. For node collapse purposes, the parent is assumed to be any item above with less indentation. For those who get bored of their indents, you can flatten and unflatten the list as needed.
Data entry is again spreadsheet style - very straightforward. And once you've processed some of those items you've entered, checked items can be hidden as you please. In common with the T3 Tasks list, alarms can be specified on any item, and will appear on your desktop as well.
One minor disappointment did appear – lists consist of one layout only, you cannot have some nodes with check boxes and some with flags. On the other hand, this is a list manager, not a project manager, so perhaps I should have expected this.
We have a few other features to play with – backup, printing and security. Many users will be very keen on the ability to password your lists, although this applies to all lists – you cannot pick out individual lists or folders to be secured. Printing is always handy, although I find it somewhat superfluous when I've got a Palm with the data in my pocket. And the backup feature may be useful for those who don't rely on the lists being duplicated on your Palm and PC.
In conclusion, this is a handy little package for exactly what you'd think – making lists. Even with the improved Tasks list on the T3, this package blows the built in software out of the water, and the desktop component makes data entry ever so easy. While I'm keen on hierarchical data with mixed nodes, I'm willing to concede I'm more obsessive than your average user. For anyone who needs to either record many list or get more out of their ToDo list I'd recommend they give this a try, and with a 30 day trial available, there's no excuse not to.