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DeveloperOne Power Tasks review

Posted on 26-Jul-2004 07:30 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

If you're reading this review I guess you either have or is planning to buy a Windows Mobile Smartphone. And I guess you're planning to buy this kind of device for its capabilities to help you organise your life, get in touch, manage your day-to-day tasks and meetings.

One of the functions available on a Smartphone is the Task manager. It synchronises with Microsoft Outlook tasks, and gives you the possibility of creating one-time or recurring tasks, set reminders, start and due dates, categories and notes of course. But as good as it is, the standard Tasks application is quite basic in terms of user interface and functions available.

DeveloperOne Power Tasks uses the same Tasks database but improves on the usability front, creating a great solution for to-do and task list management. And because it uses the Tasks database, current tasks already in the Smartphone are automatically shown, and the ActiveSync synchronisation remains the same. In short low impact in migrating from one program to another.

For a start the user interface makes it very easy to enter tasks. This is sure an incentive to use this management helper even more. If you don't have any tasks in your Smartphone yet a screen with basic instructions will be shown. To add your first task or to-do item simply move the joystick up. This will move the cursor to the description field. Each time you move the joystick up it'll cycle through pre-defined text, like "Meet with", "Call", "Lunch with", "Schedule", "Visit", "Buy". Simply select one of these and add your own text to the end of the field.

Here you can either press the Save soft key, or if you click the Action button (joystick) the Contact list will be shown, and selecting a contact will allow us to specify one of the telephone numbers or e-mail addresses. That's it. With a couple of clicks a new task was entered. Before clicking the Save button the user can add more information by pressing the Menu soft key and selecting options such as Text, Contact information, Date or Time. The menu also gives the option to set a task priority and a quick date - today, tomorrow, or one week from now.

Power Tasks comes with a few pre-defined subjects, but there's the possibility to change the existing ones or define a few more for a total of 20 personal texts.

Scroll up to create a new task

List of pre-defined subjects

Entering additional information

This easy to entry data feature alone is powerful enough, but by changing one of the program's options we can have what's called the Compact Editor. In this mode, all the main fields are presented on a single screen. If you prefer to enter the data this way, simply click New instead of using the joystick to create the task item.

Compact Editor

In addition to these data entry features, the program gives the user the power to define different data views. The tasks can be show as one single list, or grouped by Category, Priority, Start Date or Due Date. The configuration dialog is powerful and allows the user to show date/time, priority icons, and completed tasks. You can even sort the tasks withing each group.

Once the focus is in one of the tasks, the menu will give additional options, like Beam, e-mail or even call (if you have a contact included in the task).

Seeing the single list

Tasks grouped by category

The configuration is very flexible, including options to change font size and even use cleartype fonts, which look very good indeed - at least in the tasks list, the program doesn't show cleartype in the detail view. As part of the configuration an image can be defined as background for the list, and the same image can be applied to the detail view. It gives a touch to personalise the tasks, and it looks good too.

The simple detail view

The detail view with a background image

This interim release also brings some innovations. As a "preview" DeveloperOne included two "freebies" in this version. The first hidden feature is a date picker. Instead of having to enter date as day/month/year you can see a full month calendar on the screen, and select the date from there. You can enable this by typing PT:DP3 into the quick task editor on the main screen of Power Tasks, then clicking "Save". This will then allow a month popup to select dates from the editor when you press the Action key in a date editor.

Also in this new release is a preview of "Power Text". You will find an XML sample file on DeveloperOne's website with some instructions. After installing Power Tasks, copy the XML file to the Power Tasks application folder on the device, then restart Power Tasks. This will add a menu item whenever you are in an edit field. With Power Text you can easily insert contact information, time, date, timing information and more into any task subject or note. The preview of this in this release only allows a maximum of 5 Power Text phrases and will be fully featured in Version 2.0.

Power Text sample

An example from the XML files is this: Called [fa] on [dl] @ [tm]

This phrase includes the following information tags:

[fa]: Contact file-as name
[dl]: Current Date (long format)
[tm]: Current Time

The list of tags available is quite long, and I'll not list it here, but it can make a very flexible structure. One of the examples in the XML file is a call timer. Simply click on Track Call Start and when finished click Track Call End. This will enter the total call duration into the notes for example.

Another interesting feature is the reminder. Instead of using the standard Windows Mobile alarm (which goes off at 8am for any task), Power Tasks allows the definition of alarms for any time - a welcome change. And finally (but probably not the last feature), there's an option to add Power Tasks to the start bar, making it one of the items always accessible from the Home screen on the Smartphone.

At US$14.95 I found DeveloperOne's Power Tasks as an interesting addition to the Smartphone - it certainly makes it even smarter. There's a trial available and I'm sure you'll enjoy using this program.