Priorganizer: No Ordinary, Tepid Task Manager
Nov 30, 2006 4:00 AM PT
There are programs for creating to-do lists. There are programs for managing projects. Rarely, however, do the twain meet as they do in Priorganizer.
The program, by John Wood at Riaform, is priced at US$29.95 like a simple to-do list application -- which is certainly how it can be used -- but it contains features found in pricier project management offerings.
For example, tasks can be nested within tasks without limit. That means complex tree structures can be created within a task. The tree could include project milestones, individual assignments and such.
Two Tab Approach
Tasks are created in a window with two tabs. One tab displays fields for general information about the task -- title, status, priority, progress, creation date and due date. The other tab displays timing information -- estimated time to complete task, actual time, date completed -- as well as who the task was assigned to. A large portion of the task creation window is dedicated to space for describing the task.
Although you need to open a task creation window to add rich detail to an item, bare-bone tasks can be created on the fly in the task editor that's part of the program's main interface.
A Thoughtful Pane
A handy component of the interface is the sub-task pane. If you've worked with nested items before, you know that the more branches of information you create, the more difficult it can be to navigate your tree structure. What the sub-task pane does is mirror a tree branch in a separate window. That makes it easier to see and work with the sub-tasks.
So if you have six tasks and each task has six sub-tasks, you don't have to expand a task to see the sub-tasks beneath it. You can place your selector on the task, and its subtasks will appear in the sub-task pane.
Help That's Really Helpful
The program's author has also been thoughtful about providing help. Sad to say, many programmers treat help as an afterthought. Priorganizer, though, allows you to open a window on the interface that displays "dynamic help." This means that as you navigate to an element on the interface, relevant information is automatically displayed in the help window.
Another interesting feature of Priorganizer is its Knowledge Base. The component is a free form database for storing bits of information that you may find useful in the future. It consists of two window panes. One shows the title of an item; the other, its text. Just as in the task portion of the program, items in the title window can be nested within each other so tree structures can be created with this information, too.
Better Links Needed
While the Knowledge Base is good idea -- it's much more useful than the notes feature in Microsoft Outlook -- it would have been so much better if it featured a way to link information in the tasks and Knowledge Base together.
For example, if I have an article pertinent to a task, it would be convenient to have a link from it to the task and vice versa. That way, when I look at a task, I can see what Knowledge Base items pertain to it; or when I look at a Knowledge Base item, I can determine what tasks it's related to. To some extent, this linkage problem is mitigated by the program's "scratch pad." It allows you to create notes about tasks in a window pane adjacent to them.
In addition to keeping track of current tasks, the program will track finished and upcoming tasks. Completed tasks appear as journal entries in the application's "Log and Archived Tasks" section; tasks that need to be activated at a future date appear in the software's "Scheduled Tasks" section. When you need to find something in the program, it has a search feature that covers both the tasks and knowledge databases.
Priorganizer is a thoughtfully designed program that lets its users realize productivity gains the minute they launch it. Its project management features make it a powerful alternative to tepid task-only managers.