If it wasn’t for 30 day trial periods of software applications, I wouldn’t have tested out and bought many of the applications I’ve come to depend upon. Similarly, I would have wasted a lot of money on applications that don’t live up to my expectations. In the case of Marketcircle‘s Daylite Productivity Suite (Mac only), I’ve discovered that some applications are on the verge of amazingness and yet their current capabilities are overshadowed by their challenges. This makes it easy to decide if it’s time to hand over $229 for the core application and another $60 for the iPhone app.
To be clear, I love Daylite. It really is on the verge of being something incredible. As my teachers used to say of me to my parents, Daylite “has a lot of potential”. For the time being, it’s a decent tool for integrating projects, calendars, contacts and communications.
Marketcircle’s support has been quite responsive. I’ve thrown a lot at them and they’ve been good about registering bugs and feature requests and have done their best to address outstanding issues. Unfortunately, some issues aren’t easily resolved. Read on…
If I had to pick a single deal breaker, it’s that synchronization between Daylite and other programs such as iCal and Address Book is spotty at best and failures cause Daylite to crash several times a week. Every time the application crashes, I’ve allowed Daylite to send email to the mothership for review and each time a different support tech sends me the same set of canned instructions. While the steps are clearly defined, they require some time investment to implement and then more time for Daylite to reset the entire sync. This can tie you up for quite a while if you have a large database. Oh, and the sync reset doesn’t always work.
Daylite includes a hook into Mail so you can associate all communications with contact records. This makes it easy to create an audit trail of communications — particularly important for project management and managing your wife’s medical calendar and communications relating to her cancer diagnosis and treatment. The problem is that categorizing the emails is a multi-step process when it should be a single click. That is, to categorize the email and then store it in a mail folder you must first select the email, make the contact selection, make the category selection, then click on a separate email, click back on the original email, then drag the original email to the desired mail folder. It may not seem like much, but try managing an active inbox and following those steps tens if not hundreds of times a day. Marketcircle has acknowledged this and opened a feature request.
One of the great features of Daylite is the iPhone app, Daylite Touch. It makes it easy to manage your integrated projects, contacts and calendars while away from your computer. Unfortunately, Daylite has deviated from the familiar iPhone interface in a number of components which impacts the user experience. For example, the Daylite Touch contact list interface has no index along the side and no way to easily navigate all contacts the way the native Contact app does. Also, the interface for adding appointments and tasks uses the arrow button typically associated with replying or forwarding emails instead of the plus sign associated with adding new records. Marketcircle has acknowledged these and opened feature requests.
I’ve also suggested that they allow the user to associate default email and calendar categories with contact records, rather than defaulting to the last used category. If you’re not careful, a client record could get associated with your wife’s cancer calendar . Marketcircle has acknowledged this and opened a feature request.
Which brings me to another feature request. Once you’ve associated an email message with a contact and category in Daylite, the Daylite sidepanel in Mail changes to a button for opening the current mail record in Daylite. I’ve suggested it would be handy to see a summary list of associated contacts, communications records and appointments. Marketcircle has acknowledged this and opened a feature request.
This one I haven’t sent to Marketcircle, yet. Daylite Touch doesn’t offer the ability to set reminders for appointments or tasks. You can create the records but you don’t have the ability to set an alert so you don’t forget.
Finally — for now — the language used for status is inconsistent. Daylite’s calendar includes status options such as tentative, confirmed, completed and postponed while the task area has status options open, pending, deferred and done. Marketcircle has acknowledged this and opened a feature request to change it.
Sadly, my trial period expires in seven days. I wish the product were closer to being perfect so I could justify the expense particularly since I’ve invested so much time and have come to depend on Daylite to integrate Andrea’s medical calendar with related communications, reports and records (of course, that’s what trial periods are for). Instead, I’ll have to let the trial lapse and hope the best for Daylite.