Review of Chandler: Could it replace iCal/Mail?

Chandler is an open-source, cross platform personal information manager that combines To-dos, mail and tasks in a useful way. Chandler has just been released, and I couldn’t resist playing around with it.

Chandler is a pretty unique take on information management. It works in a very GTD way to collect notes, that you then process into calender items, to do’s, archive items, or even emails.

So I enter a note into the quick-entry box (that looks very much like a spotlight search field, but don’t be fooled) and then process it later. New notes are automatically tagged with “now”. I can add dates, which makes it into a calender event (and may change the tag to “later”). I can add an email address, which sends it to a contact. I can also simply add more detail to the notes, and leave it in the inbox. The items can be starred, and grouped into calenders (default are “home,” “work” and “fun”). This video demonstrates.

The program talks to iCal, and other calender programs that support .ics format. It can sync with Gmail, or with iCal, via the Chandler server (also free). This means you can access your account from the net as well.

This is not an email client, but you can use an IMAP account with server folders to “talk” to it - drop an email in a folder on your IMAP account and it will become a task or a note, or be available for processing.

The best feature of this program is the inbox paradigm and the processing of notes, or thoughts into any other sort of item - tasks, calender events, emails or reference notes. This system really suits my personality, but I think that my tasks are better managed in Omnifocus, which I already use. It is a much better calender interface than iCal, which is tempting, but the disadvantage of syncing Chandler to Chandler Hub to iCal in order to get it on my iphone is too annoying. For me, this could be the ideal hub for email and calender, with further task processing in Omnifocus.

I think it is definitely worth a look if you don’t have a useful task manager, and I will continue to keep an eye on it as features progress. With full email integration, and compatibility with Omnifocus, this could certainly become a killer app.

Chandler website here.

Chandler video tour here.

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