First note that
Datebk5 is more than a scheduling application. It incorporates
complete MemoPad and ToDo application functionality, thus possibly
replacing three built-in Palm apps. It takes the MemoPad function
beyond the built-in with a restore button that undoes everything
in an editing session--a real life saver. DB5 also has a most-recent
function for addresses. That's pretty good bang for the buck.
Second, it uses the built-in Palm Datebook database, making
it 100% completely compatible with the built-in Palm Datebook/Calendar
The opening day view screen
looks very much like the day view in the built-in Datebook.
That's intentional. The underlying design philosophy for Datebk5
is that when it does what the built-in does, it does it pretty
much the same way unless there's some overriding reason not
to do so. That eases the transition for new users, making them
instantly productive. There are a few notable differences,
however. Icons can be associated with events and categories,
making identification of events easy in the weekly and monthly
views. Datebk5 even supports high density icons under OS 4.x,
and the difference is dramatic. Like the built-in Datebook,
events are directly enterable and editable in the day view
for outstanding convenience.
Besides icons, events and categories
can be highlighted through the use of color, both foreground
and background. These prove highly effective in all views,
especially monthly and yearly views where key days can be
quickly spotted. The color priorities are well thought out
and explained in the manual.
Also in the day view, DB5 can
display a resizable split screen with todos, addresses, or
memo list. These can be filtered by category and other characteristics
for display. Todos/tasks can also have icons associated, which
again helps ID individual entries in other views, and can also
appear integrated in the day view. DB5 offers eleven distinct
calendar views, selectable from the view bar in the lower left
of the screen. One of the most powerful tools in DB5 is the
custom view. The user defines and customizes these to filter
and tailor the screen to display only the information of interest
at a particular moment. A few of my favorite standard views
are pictured below. Note the use of icons and color to capture
important information at a glance. The action icons to the
right of the appointment lines that denote notes, alarms, repeats,
etc., are active, bringing up their setting dialogs or notes
when tapped. Many of these settings come up on the command
line when activated inside DB5. Almost every menu item has
a command-stroke/graffiti shortcut.
Flexibility is Datebk5's hallmark.
Global preferences are presented in a tabbed format, and
each view is customizable individually. It can control the
handheld's alarm system, time zones, and interface with third
party apps like alternative address books. In fact, the newest
version has built-in special support for PhoneMagic 1.30. You
can have DB5 bring up the contact program of your choice by
entering its creator ID in the preference settings.
Besides basic and repeating events,
DB5 uses floating events (hybrids of appointments and todos)
that move with time until completed. Fonts, from tiny to
huge, can be selected on hi res devices in most displays, including
in OS 5 devices from PalmOne. Categories can be given unique
color schemes, icons, and be filtered across displays, making
them a very powerful tool.
Powerful linking fulfills another of
my listed requirements, and is basic to any contact manager.
In Datebk5, events can be linked to a large number of address
book entries, memos, or todos, or combinations of them. I
use this to list all meeting participants, especially in recurring
meetings, so that I have their information instantly available
if a particular meeting should change. Each appointment can
be logged to the address book entry along with descriptive
text in a note, providing a history of events concerning
each contact. Highlighting a name in an event and tapping the
link icon will search the address book for that individual
so their entry can be linked. These, together with other features,
make Datebk5's contact management superior to other apps that
are sold as contact managers.
One of the most powerful and unique
features Datebk5 sports is the ability to categorize datebook
entries. I've already alluded to that, but here's a powerful
application of that capability. You can categorize entire
schedules by individual, enabling the tracking of multiple
people's calendars across devices. For example, a husband
and wife, both using DB5, could beam their calendars to each
other to synchronize their schedules. Both calendars are
fully editable, unlike Palm's DualDate. Using programs like
PocketMirror or DesktopToGo to Hotsync with MS Outlook, you
can even synchronize the categories to the desktop. The latest
Contacts app from PalmSource also handles categories, albeit
in a rudimentary way. It doesn't come close to DB5’s
power and flexibility.
Other features include built-in, context-sensitive help for virtually every
screen and dialog box; advanced notice for appointments and todos; templates
to speed regular appointment entries; saving tailored list view data to memos;
and advanced beaming. Datebk5 comes with a 100+ page manual that not only explains
each and every feature, but also provides practical applications for key features.
CESD sets the industry standard for support, visiting the Yahoo!
forum virtually every day. That's where the beta preview versions can be
obtained. CESD's betas are generally more stable than other companies' re lease
Datebk5 continues to support every Palm OS device on the market
as they appear. This includes the T3 DIA, portrait, landscape,
etc., as well as Treo 600-series navigation. OS 6 support
is already in the works. CESD has spent an incredible amount
of time reverse engineering PalmSource's buggy data manager
patch that links the new Palm conduits with the legacy Palm
PIM databases. This resulted in an incredibly stable and reliable
schedule, task, and contact application.
Unfortunately, this brief review
has barely touched Datebk5's power and feature set. At
$24.95, Datebk5 is a steal and all proceeds go to wildlife
conservation. In fact, Gorilla
Haven recently accepted their first resident, Joe.
DB5 played a significant role in bringing this dream to fruition.
business life literally revolves around Datebk5’s
incredible power and flexibility. I cannot recommend any
application more highly than Datebk5!
Easy transition from built-in Datebook
Easy to use
Tremendous connectivity between appointments, contacts, tasks,
Doesn't make my lunch for me—yet!