[Buy SX Paint 2, Get MD+F TextFX Free for Christmas (click here)]

IBM Works PIM- by Christopher B. Wright

Both versions of OS/2 Warp (3.0 and 4.0) come with a complete office suite and PIM package called IBM Works. Though lightweight compared to the latest and greatest products, the PIM included with OS/2 Warp is functional, and probably about as much as most people need.

It is not, however, anything like the more commonly found PIMs on the market today. Its user interface is quirky and a bit basic; instead of combining all the features into a seamless package it divides them into smaller applications, and by today's standards it feels a bit crude -- sort of like moving from a computer word processor back to a typewriter-based word processor. If all you're doing is typing a letter, both will work fine -- indeed, there are circumstances where the typewriter-based word processor would work a little better -- but it still doesn't feel right.

PIM Pieces

The IBM Works PIM isn't, as most PIMs are, one complete program. Instead, it is six individual programs designed to work together. IBM Works PIM includes an Appointments Calendar, a Notepad, a Phone/Address Book, a Daily Planner, a "To-Do" List, and a Yearly Calendar. Each of these applications can be used independently, or in conjunction with each other. Indeed, its often possible to launch one application from within another, and many of the applications share information when it's relevant.

The specific parts of the IBM Works PIM are detailed below.

Appointments Book

Unlike many appointment book programs, which borrow the DayRunner look of an entire page devoted to an entire day, separated into hours and half hours to keep track of what appointments fall where, the Appointments book looks more like a weekly ledger (GIF, 7.8k), with a white rectangle under each day of the week containing the various appointments of the day.

Double-clicking on the white area will open a dialog box (GIF, 6.5k) that will allow you to specify what your appointment is, when it occurs, and how long it will last. When you are finished, you press "OK" and you will return to the Appointment Ledger (which now displays your appointment).

If the information changes or is no longer relevant, simply highlight it and right-click on it. You will given, among other options, the chance to edit or delete your entry.

This is a very functional approach towards keeping track of appointments, but it doesn't give you quite as clear a visual clue of when things fall in a particular day as the popular method (the DayRunner look) does.

Event Monitor

The Event Monitor keeps track of whatever alarms and reminders you have set in your PIM.


The notepad is a place where you can store various miscellaneous pieces of information, ideas you've[Notepad Graphic] been kicking around, whatever doesn't seem to fit anywhere else. I like the way the notepad is set up -- when you open it, it takes you to a Table of Contents that lists the titles of the different notes you have stored in there. Double-clicking on the Table of Contents will take you to a dialog box where you can enter a title and some other information about your note. Double-clicking on a note title will take you to the body of the note, where you can either edit or key in whatever information you wish to put in there.

The Table of Contents doesn't seem to have any sorting capabilities -- it will only display the titles in the order in which they were created, not alphabetically -- so it would be a bit difficult to find specific entries if there were a great many to choose from. There is a search facility included, however, so if you remember enough of the title you'll probably be able to track it down..

Phone/Address Book

A staple feature of any PIM, the phone/address book for IBM Works is a bit cumbersome to use.

The Phone/Address Book's main screen is a list of all numbers and addresses stored in the application. The lettered tabs at the top of the window allow you to jump to the first entry bearing whichever letter you choose, and you can double-click on any name to see all its information. If you have a new entry, you can either double-click on a white space on the screen or you can right-click and choose New... from the menu.

Entering information is fairly self explanatory, but awkward at times. All the fields (Name, Address, Country, Company) are clearly marked, but the fields are spread across several different tabs in a settings notebook, which makes it difficult if you are a touch-typist (as I am) or if you have a lot of information to enter.

A nice feature of the Phone/Address book are the 10 user custom fields that you can use for any purpose you wish--handy for storing e-mail accounts, web sites, customer numbers, and the like.

You can also use this application to log incoming and outgoing calls -- and you can dial those calls as well (if you have a properly configured modem). This is a feature that would be more useful in the world of business, where such things are tracked and billed on a regular basis.


The Daily Planner and the Appointments application look like their GUIs were switched around; the Planner uses the standard "Appointment" interface (GIF, 9.2k), and the Appointment app looks more like a traditional Daily Planner. With the Daily Planner, you can set aside blocks of time for activities, and can determine what day, when and for how long such activities will be performed.

Double-clicking on a grid block on the screen opens a dialog box with various settings and information fields. You can enter in when the event occurs, give it a title, a time span (start to finish), whether or not this is an item on the "To-Do" list (described below), whether or not to notify you via alarm (and when to do so), and more. When you're finished entering in your information, the time you set aside is marked off as a dark block on that day's column. By pressing the mouse button down while the pointer is in that block, the time and title of the event will "pop up" on the screen.

The biggest problem with this is that you couldn't by default see, at a glance, what the activity is -- you have to press down on the mouse button to see each one individually. This can be difficult when you're trying to plan for an entire week's worth of work (or play).

To Do List

Double-clicking on the To-Do List causes two things to happen: first, it launches the To-Do-List launcher, a to-do list "command center" that allows you to create more to-do lists. Second, it launches a to-do list for whatever the day happens to be. Adding to-do list items (GIF, 4.9k) is very simple: simply double-click on any white space and fill in the information relevant to your task. The to-do lists are ranked by items of importance, so items that you designate "more important" will be shown first, and items ranked "less important" will be addressed further down the list.

The To-Do list has the obvious use of listing what you need to get done and by when. The To-Do list launcher also has some interesting uses: for example, if you right click on any day on the calendar, you can elect to open up any of the other PIM programs (such as the Planner or Appointment book) displaying that day. You can also use it to set holidays and other major events.

Year Calendar

The year calendar is a full year's calendar in one window, January through December. It will display all the days of that year at a glance. You can use it in much the same way as the To-Do List launcher: you can launch applications to a specific day of the year, for example (so when they make the announcement of the next Warpstock you'll have plenty of time to prepare!)


The IBM Works PIM is a basic but functional program. Don't expect any high-end features (like being able to sync up with a Palm Pilot), and if you're running a large business you may find it inadequate for many of your needs. But IBM Works PIM does what it was designed to do fairly well, and it will keep track of all the basics -- appointments, to-do lists, holidays, phone numbers, random ideas and notes -- more than adequately.

Final Evaluation

The IBM Works PIM will work just fine for most people. It does what it was designed to do, and although the interface can be awkward it performs reliably and rather quickly. The reliability and usefulness of the program, combined with the fact that it's absolutely free, more than overcomes its quirkiness. If you rely on your PIM 24 hours a day, however, you may find the interface too frustrating to use. And if you have a PDA like I do (I have a Palm Pilot) then you are out of luck -- the IBM Works PIM will not link to anything. Be prepared to maintain two separate phone lists (an annoyance in and of itself).

* * *


by IBM
MSRP: Free with OS/2

Christopher B. Wright is a technical writer in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area, and has been using OS/2 Warp since January 95. He is also a member of Team OS/2.


[Our Sponsor: SofTouch Systems, Inc. - Your System's Safe and Sound with SofTouch Around.]

Copyright © 1997 - Falcon Networking ISSN 1203-5696