Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gnome's Evolution vs EssentialPIM: A Rant

There are certain applications on Windows that are just better than anything on Linux. When it comes to PIMs, a LOT of them are better than those available on Linux. In fact, most of the Linux one's suck. I've written about this before, but I'm annoyed enough now that I want to revisit it. In particular I want to compare what I think is a pretty good freeware PIM on Windows - Essential PIM, with the best thing that Linux has to offer presently - Evolution.

By in large, there is not much of a comparison. EssentialPIM is FAR better than Evolution as a PIM. It is flexible in ways I doubt Evolution will Ever be (which makes me sad - because I want Linux to have superior or at least equally compatible apps). Here is a list of features that make EssentialPIM superior (and this is by no means exhaustive):

Screen Real Estate

First, EssentialPIM has much better screen real estate. EssentialPIM has a menubar, and then the rest of the window is used by some aspect of the program. Evolution, on the other hand, has a menu bar, then a wide non-configurable menu full of Icons, then blank Gtk canvas (or whatever), and then, nearly a fourth of the way though my screen, the application does something useful.

Calendering and Tasks

Evolution does Ok in this respect, but again, EssentialPIM does it better. For one, the latter allows for a very flexible color coding of appointments, which Evolution lacks. Evolution's reminder function does have the features I want: the ability to play a sound (one I can configure) in calendaring (though it hides it behind too many mouse clicks) but this feature is totally lacking in the Tasks List. I can set a start time, but I can't get a reminder for it? That's silly. Also, having things more accessible would really help. If I want to change the Priority, I should be able to do it either by clicking on the Priority column or by right clicking it. Having multiple ways of doing the same thing will allow it to sit better the mindframes of various types of people.

Other Features That Set EssentialPIM Apart

EssentialPIM uses tabs very effectively, but Evolution doesn't incorporate tab functionality at all. This means that you often have to click through multiple menus to get at what you want, when in EssentialPIM it is just one tab away.

EssentialPIM is small, portable, and secure. Evolution lacks all of these features. I don't worry to much about the size of the app, but its lack of portability causes me no end of trouble. If you're not going to make a portable app, then at least make it easy to synchronize the information across different computers. It does me no good to have a To Do list (or my schedule) on my home machine and not be able to access it when I'm at work. Also, if it ever becomes portable, it would be very welcome if the info it contained where encryptable (like it EssentialPIM). Portability without security is a disaster waiting to happen (this is the main reason I don't use the Portable App version of Thunderbird). And no... I don't want to encrypt my whole damn flashdrive.

Evolution's good sides: Open source. Doesn't totally suck (like Chandler)

Overall, there are lots of little things that EssentialPIM does that makes it much easier and more flexible than Evolution. My recommendation: the Evolution people should look at EssentialPIM's functionality and incorporate it into their own application.


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