Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Note from LJ: this post was written by a guest author, Ela Eames. She tackled the review of this product after it became apparent I did not have the proper equipment to do so. Thanks for stepping in, Ela!
IF you do an online search for productivity software, you will find no shortage of calendars, to-do lists or programs having methods of ‘tickling’ the users memory in the hopes that no task is overlooked.
DayMap is one such program, and with versions for the desktop and iPhone (iOS) there is the promise of a seamless transition between the two, and that such convenience and portability will enable the user to plan, organize and remain in control of the projects and associated tasks they are responsible for as well as having the ability to add or manage those ‘on the fly’. As each version has the ability to run independently or sync over iCloud, they must be purchased separately.
Desktop Version (Mac) Functionality
The desktop version is divided into three primary areas; the first is an inbox which functions as an organizational space where ‘buttons’ allow you to create new project (folders) and new tasks are located until they are processed and assigned to a particular project. The second area is where projects reside and the third is a simplified weekly calendar.
When project folders are created, a popup window appears allowing you to name the folder and assign it a color if you want something other than the default. Folders can be expanded to allow for easy task entry across multiple projects when capturing data after a meeting or as part of your daily review, or collapsed to allow for focused work without visual distractions.
New tasks are created in a number of ways, either by entering the ‘+’ button within the folder, using shortcuts or selecting the ‘task’ button in the leftmost column. The user can drag-and-drop tasks between projects, into the calendar or parked in the left column if there is no associated project folder. When double clicked for editing, notes, a completion date or the frequency of repeating can be added. When a completion date has been assigned to a task, the font becomes italicized. Completed tasks are indicated with a strike-through and there is an option for a range of items to be displayed, depending on your personal preferences. Sub-tasks can be added just as easily if needed.
The iOS version of DayMap functions in a similar manner, but the smaller screen size relies on the use of a tab bar on the bottom of the screen to flip between the functions the desktop version provides in one visual plane.
The default view in the iOS is a ‘to-do’ list for the current date and it displays only tasks assigned to the day appear. Other views include the week, inbox, project list and programs settings. Tasks can be added to any of the tabs by selecting the ‘+’ button in the top right hand corner of the screen. When creating a new task, a project screen appears allowing input of the same type of information found in the desktop version. It is in this task editing screen that the task can be moved or assigned to existing folders.
Ease of Use
The desktop version of this program is extremely easy to use, and the learning curve is very short. While the initial number of themes that are available with the program are limited, they are distinctive, crisp and bright. A feature that many programs don’t have is the ability to create customized shortcuts to fit the users personal preferences,
The tabs in the iOS version allow the ability to focus on one day or one week’s assigned tasks, or to view tasks by project. And the organization of the different tabs limits the amount of scrolling needed to find a particular task.
Syncing Between Versions
The ability to sync between the desktop and iOS versions is a vital feature for any software to be truly useful, and it was in regards to this feature that DayMap stumbles. Before a single task or project is created, the user needs to know if they will be using the iCloud or not, but there is no indication of this when the program is initially started. After entering a substantial amount of data into the desktop version and then using the iOS one, it was discovered when trying to sync that when setting the option to use the iCloud, that all of the information on the desktop had ‘disappeared’. As soon as the iCloud option was unselected, the data reappeared. It appears that the program has two separate files, one for standalone use and the other for iCloud synchronization.
It would have been ideal if upon opening the application, a tutorial opened providing a brief orientation of how the software works, and guided the user through the initial steps of deciding to use the synchronization feature from the start so that duplicate data entry isn’t required after discovering this oversight. Even better would be that the program would read from the same data file so that there is no error in what information the user is referring to.
The iOS was most certainly developed after the desktop version, and the roughness of the app indicates that. Unlike the desktop version, the iOS is not as intuitive and there is more trial and error for the user before the app can be easily and reliably used. Syncing was occasionally temperamental between the two platforms; information added to or modified on the iOS version appeared within moments on the desktop, but the reverse was often not true. Again, this is most likely due to the newer aspect of the iOS application and as the program is refined the app will function with the same simplicity and ease as the desktop version resulting in better user experience.
If this program were to be available for platforms beyond Apple’s Mac, or if there were a version for the iPad (which DayMap’s website indicates is currently being developed) the audience for this application would be far broader and many others could benefit from this program, which focuses on visual planning rather than the dogged lists and timelines that require lots of scrolling that are standard fare.
One feature of the desktop version that needs to be incorporated is the ability to indicate that a project has been completed, without going through the process of editing the task. Incorporating a feature similar to what is available on the calendar would eliminate several of the ‘click throughs’ that are currently needed.
As an individual with an increasingly complicated schedule due to two elementary aged children and their associated activities, I rely on easy to use, easy to read programs and methods to capture and convey information on a regular basis. The desktop version of this program fits many of those needs, and with the added feature of printing out tasks lists with their associated information, this program has quickly become among my most frequently used.
The iOS version is still in the development stages, and needs more refinement before I would recommend purchasing it. At this stage of development I would consider it as if it were free. I would consider purchasing it with future enhancements and if the price is right. This approach would benefit the DayMap developers by creating a loyal audience that can provide information on features and usability that is currently missing, and as features are added it could be made available for purchase.
Together these programs have a lot of potential, and there are a number of features that can be worked into it to make it an even more powerful tool. I look forward to what the iPad version has to offer, and if it is anything like the desktop version, I’ll be getting it.
Whetstone Apps provided the reviewer with a free copy of the software to enable her to write this review.
Ela Eames is a blogger, wife, mama, and full-time employee who enjoys gardening and volunteering in her spare time. Her blog can be found at The Tangled Yarn.
Photo by Whetstone Apps.