Relish will impress you as a fast, user-friendly and remarkably well drag-n-drop-enhanced time management program for OS/2. Within the first half hour of tinkering I was repeatedly surprised with its speed, features, and tight integration with the rest of the Warp desktop.
To install Relish is straightforward and easy. The program comes on two floppy disks and includes an install utility. You will be asked if you wish to add a program to your computer's STARTUP.CMD script to automatically start a monitoring program every time you boot your computer. This program will run in the background and monitor scheduled appointments and alarms for you, popping up reminder dialogs even if Relish itself is not already running.
You might have to edit your STARTUP.CMD script afterwards, though, and add an 'exit' command to the end of it. Since the one Relish creates will not close its window automatically after your computer finishes booting.
Support is available through its thickly bound user manual, complete with walkthroughs and definitions of terms. Or via phone/fax or e-mail contact with its developers at Sundial.
Relish has an interface you'll love, provided you can get over its looks. It's drag-n-drop everywhere, with behavior that matches OS/2's desktop. This was a refreshing change from Lotus Organizer's one-mouse-button mentality. It was very easy to get acquainted with Relish within the first 30 minutes of use.
But it's also the ugliest duckling of the PIMs we examined for this month's issue. Not much attention was paid to visual appeal with Relish; it's default "blues" color scheme will probably contrast with Warp's default and conservative one, plus many of the icons used throughout its palettes and toolbars look kind of cheap. No points for aesthetics, but at least you can drag-n-drop replacement colors from Warp's floating palettes.
The address book, or in Relish the phone book (GIF, 18.6k), is unfortunately rather weak for keeping contact information. It doesn't have space or slots for entering much more than the name, phone number address and one-line remark about the person you're adding. There's no way to separate home and business addresses and no slot for an e-mail address. There's also no obvious way of distinguishing home and business phone numbers, but Relish is smart and can tell there are two numbers in the line "Home:(562)-555-1212; Work(714)-555-ABCD." Select this phone book entry when it comes time to dial and Relish will provide you with a list to pick from. Relish can also translate the letters "ABCD" into their equivalent keypad numbers.
Spartan as the phone book may be, it is conveniently linked to dialogs for entering appointments and ToDo items, etc. Where Lotus Organizer only links the address book to a "Phone Call" appointment type, Relish will let you pop-up your phone book and select a name wherever you see a "Who:" label anywhere. For example, in an appointment, or a meeting, or a ToDo item, or wherever. Relish will automatically fill out any relevant labels with whatever it finds in the phone book. So the "Where" part of an appointment is filled out with the person's address, for example.
Relish is very good at keeping track of your appointments, and with the help of Buns (discussed later) can present them in a variety of different views. Actually scheduling something is dirt-easy too and is usually either a case of drag-n-drop or double-click. It's organized to accommodate whatever mode of thinking the user prefers. Some think of "when" first, and "what" second - so for them they can drag-n-drop a date or time to an appointment type. Others might think of "what" to do first, and "when" to do it second -- so for them they can drag an appointment type onto a date or time. This is interesting to note: You can actually point to a time on the scale and drag-n-drop it anywhere you like -- to a date, to an appointment template, to the desktop, anywhere.
While entering the time for an appointment, a graduated scale at the top of the dialog lets you swipe a block of time with the mouse, or just point-and-click the begin and end times. By default, Relish will assign an alarm to each note -- you don't have to explicitly tell it to do so, like in Organizer. You can then set the alarm to go off in advance of the appointment, like five or ten minutes.
Relish uses six different categories for notes. They are; Appointment, Meeting, General note, Phone call, Run an OS/2 program, and ToDo. Each category has a slightly different arrangement when it comes to entering details. For example, Appointment and Meeting notes are primarily concerned with "Who" and "Where" the appointment will be with, while a ToDo note is more concerned with priority and who it's assigned to. A "Run program" note obviously doesn't care about any "whos" or "wheres," it just gives you a space to enter the path of a program to start.
Rescheduling notes is just another drag-n-drop operation and is remarkably easy. If you wish to reschedule the date, just drag-n-drop the note onto the new date in the calendar -- flipping backwards and forwards through months and years first if necessary. You can also reschedule the time just by drag-n-dropping the note onto the time-scale just above the summary window. I found this much more flexible than Organizer, which usually required you to go and edit a dialog box if the target of your drag-n-drop operation wasn't on the same page.
If you drag a note onto the desktop it will create a text file with a full summary of the appointment. This may be useful if you wish to insert it into a newsletter you're composing in a word processor. You can also drag-n-drop any note to OS/2's shredder and instantly delete it.
Relish is also very good at letting you group together notes and phone-book entries. You can create your own groups like "Personal," "Business," "Vacation," for notes and "Friends," "Contacts," "Employees" for phone-book entries. You can then restrict your view of notes into only those of a specific group. This grouping ability, combined with Buns (described below) make it very easy to keep your notes separate from another users' (if two or more people are using the same machine,) or separate from project-to-project.
New in version 2.2 is a means of putting together customized views of your Relish data into packages Sundial calls "Buns". These buns are part of Relish's further desktop integration and can be used to store any range of preferences from views, colors, fonts, positions, and icon-bar choices. Relish gives you five predefined Buns and a template for creating more. They also give you a stock of icons to use with the ones you make yourself.
While the name is a bit silly (Relish... buns... burgers... get it?) it can actually be quite useful, since they save you a lot of messing around with menus and configurations when you already know what view you want. Click... boom -- it's open.
The default Buns themselves are as follow; Daily, Weekly, Monthly, To Do, Overdue, Phone-book, and Floating Notes. Being examples they all have slightly different color schemes and window arrangements. But as mentioned above, they come into their own when you combine them with grouping of notes. A custom bun can be made which shows a weekly schedule (GIF, 17.1k) of, say, your Vacation -- and only notes relating to your vacation. Customize another bun and you could have a monthly view of business appointments, all listed separately from personal ones.
Type-To-Search is extremely convenient and does just what it says. Start typing anywhere and Relish will instantly jump to whatever note matches the search string. I mean you can just start typing anywhere at all, wherever Relish has the focus. You don't need to click a 'Search' button or pull up a menu option or anything. Just type. Out of all the features Relish has, this one was by far my favorite. Boy I wish more software had this!
The only bummer is that Type-To-Search will not find items unless they're in your current view. That is, if you have a Daily view (GIF, 15.8k) and the item you're searching for is not in the currently selected day -- Relish won't find it. But, if you have it set to a Monthly view and the item you're searching for is somewhere in that month -- bingo, no problem. I would have liked to see Relish search its whole database of future items, rather than whatever is in the currently displayed list.
Relish is very 'free form' in nature, with very little bound by any main window. This differs from Organizer, since you can create new views of your appointments and arrange them where you like on the desktop. This may be especially handy for anyone using a virtual desktop manager like the one in Object Desktop. Plus, when minimized, Relish can leave a small, unobtrusive calendar in the corner of your desktop. Double-click on any date to get a summary of things to be done on that day.
And most importantly of all, Relish can remind you of appointments even when the program itself isn't already running. This is a real big plus that I didn't find in Organizer. It can also be extremely valuable, since a PIM is supposed to remind you of things you might normally forget -- but it can't remind you of anything if one of the things you normally forget is to start the darn PIM in the first place. So Relish installs a small program that launches itself and runs in the background whenever you boot your machine. It then quietly monitors your appointments, and when one comes due it plays a tune and pops up a message. Trust me, this feature counts.
What Relish excels at is quick and fast scheduling. It's small and not the least bit bloated. Relish would probably be perfect for laptops or other RAM constrained systems that would normally get murdered by the demands of Lotus Organizer. Relish may also be just the cup of tea for someone who values hassle-free integration with the Workplace Shell and a compact profile.
But I think Sundial still needs to get out the proverbial sandpaper and smooth the rough edges down on this thing. It doesn't need to look like a 6-ring binder, but it could sure as heck use a better looking default color scheme! I also think the address/phone book needs a major overhaul, with more spaces (nooks and crannies) for entering contact information.
Chris Wenham is a freelance web designer, writer and Englishman who now lives in Endicott, NY. In the past he has written comedy, sci-fi, Pascal, Rexx, HTML and Gibberish. He has been using OS/2 exclusively for the past 2 years.
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