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Web-Centric Pims

Web-Wise Pims

What Else to Look For...

-- By James E. Powell

Personal information managers (PIMs) help you manage your contacts and appointments. With the growth of the Internet and online services, it's become important to be able to save Web site addresses or e-mail addresses in a contact record, or to share your calendar over the Web.

Web-Wise PIMs do just that. Here's what to look for when you shop for a PIM that works with:

E-MAIL

Look for a program that can handle an e-mail address. Or two. Many of your contacts may have an Internet address and an address on an online commercial service, or a business and personal Internet address. More sophisticated PIMs let you click on a button or double-click on the address to launch your e-mail program and fill in the contact's address in the Send To field. Other PIMs let you select multiple contact names and send the same message to several--even dozens--of contacts at once. This is particularly helpful when you use your PIM's filter feature to select your best customers and send them special promotional announcements.

Some PIMs come with their own e-mail program to connect to your network's e-mail system or use an existing Dial-Up Networking connection. Some will let you attach an e-mail message from your current e-mail program to a contact, while others incorporate the e-mail messages within the PIM itself.

You can also use e-mail to request attendance at meetings.Starfish Software's Sidekick 97 for example, lets you send invitations: Recipients reply to the message and check a box indicating whether they accept or decline; the meeting coordinator receives the message, which can automatically update the calendar. This makes it easy to keep track of who'll be attending.

WEB PAGES

Most Web-centric PIMs now include a field for a contact's Web site. The site may be the company's home page or the contact's personal Web page. You may use the field to point to a Web page about a product the contact is trying to sell you, or to the contact's company news page, which helps you stay abreast of the latest goings-on. In most cases, clicking on the site launches your browser (either the default browser configured in Windows 95 or one within the PIM's own options), dials your service provider (if needed), and loads the Web page.

PUBLISH OR PERISH

New HTML output options are becoming increasingly popular in mainstream applications, and PIMs are no exception. With many you can now print your address book in HTML. You can use a PIM database to track your employees, then publish a company directory on your Internet Web site or on your intranet. Other products let you publish your calendar in HTML format so customers will know when you're available. One product, Now Up-to-Date, offers a unique feature. If you publish your calendar, others using Now Up-to-Date can drag a hyperlink pointing to an appointment on your calendar and add it to their own calendar.


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