Sunday, October 07, 2007

Still looking for good cross-platform personal information manager (PIM) software

I've been on the hunt for a while now for a decent cross-platform PIM application. As of yet I've not found one. Of the ones I've tried, the below either come close or are worthy of consideration - even though none of them have exactly all of the features I want.

10 Ideal Features I'd like to Have in My PIM
  1. calender / schedule items
  2. daily diary
  3. decent address book with ability to tag, add pictures, etc
  4. to-do lists with reminders
  5. notes
  6. allows for attachments
  7. cross-platform
  8. portable
  9. allows for encryption of data
  10. freeware, but preferably open-source
5 Applications I've Tried
With the release of 0.7 of the Lightning/Sunbird this is one step closer to being what I want it to be. There is definite improvement. Unfortunately, though, it lacks features 2, 3 (this has continued to suck over the years), 9, and I'm not sure about 5 and 6.
I got really excited when I found out about this project... but then I tried it out. Its a whale of a program that runs really slowly, takes up too much of my system resources, and doesn't have all the features I would like - but the main problem I have with it is portability - I need to be able to run it off my flash drive when I move from computer to computer. Maybe this program will loose some bloat, but I'm not holding my breath.
Of all the open-source ones I tried, this is the one that I like the most. Its elegant, light (at least as light as a java program can be), cross-platform, I think its portable (though I never tried), and it has many of the features I want. The main features it lacks, though, are 3 and 9. Having a decent contact manager is essential for my needs, and being able to encrypt sensitive data is a major issue for me.
This program is absolutely insane, but in a way that I find sort of irresistible. Its a portable hodge-podge of useful functionality (some of which goes far beyond an ordinary PIM). Here are just some of its features: built in speadsheet functionality (a really good idea), store notes, passwords, images, bookmarks, contacts, money transactions, calendar events & tasks, iCalander events, and it has multi-layer encryption for various nodes within the program. Oh my! And it appears that its just one person developing it! Unfortunately, though, the interface is atrocious, and it only works on Windows. That said, I'm definitely going to keep my eyes on this program. Hopefully it will get a lot more attention in the near future.
Without a doubt this is my favorite PIM application out there, and if it were cross-platform, open-source, and had built in diary functionality, then it would be my dream come true. It's sooo well-designed, and has almost everything you might want. But, alas, because I can't get it to work on linux (even with wine) then its not going to do me very much use when I finally make the decision to go linux all the way. And I really, really wish it were open-source.


Phil M. said...

Yeah, finding the perfect PIM software is a challenge.

You may want to look at:

(1) EverNote (free version) -- -- Truly excellent categorization features (very important to me). Much better overall than EssentialPIM, but also available only on Windows.

(2) Pooter -- -- Cross platform, but I haven't tried it out yet.

(3) MIT's Haystack -- -- An RDF-based PIM that I have tried to evaluate in the past but could not get running. I will be trying again, with help from the team currently supporting the project.

I would like to hear more about your own experiences with PIMs.

Phil Murray
The Semantic Advantage

Founding member of The Center for Semantic Excellence

razzle_me said...

Your list is EXACTLY what I'm scouring the net trying to find right the letter!

I'd be really interested to find out if you've had any further 'luck' since originally posting this?


Grzegorz Rumatowski said...

You may look at Spicebird