Windows, Mac and Linux: A preview release of the highly-anticipated, cross-platform, open source personal information manager Chandler is now available for download, and while it's still got kinks to work out, it looks as promising as its vision. Called the PIM "for people who use their Inbox as their task list, Chandler picks up where your Inbox leaves off." Chandler's essentially a combination calendar, email inbox and task list for the individual, as well as a collaboration tool for small groups. The Chandler developers say:
Our goal is to serve the way people actually work, independently and together, particularly in small groups, a market segment we believe is underserved. Our belief is that personal and collaborative information work is by nature iterative and that the existing binary Done/Not-Done, Read/Unread, Flagged/Unflagged paradigm in productivity software poorly accommodates the reality of how people work.
Ever since I read Scott Rosenberg's book, Dreaming in Code, I've been dying to see Chandler get released. Dreaming In Code is a chronicle of Chandler's early stages, documenting its development from inception through much of its often-painful evolution, which will be familiar to anyone who's ever tried to build software. (Programmers and software designers, read this book). I love the open source ethos behind the software and the vision for its use, which is tightly tied to Getting Things Done.
As for the preview release, well, it has some ways to go. I was unable to get my Gmail account to sync with it via IMAP, for instance, which kept me from doing any real-world testing. So while it's not stable software ready for primetime, the Chandler preview IS an exciting tease at a unified inbox/calendar/task list that keeps all your stuff in one place while offering decentralized sharing capabilities. If Chandler's final release delivers on its promises, it will also deliver users from the evil of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange server. Until then, you can tinker with the preview and hope. The Chandler Preview is a free download for Mac, Windows and Linux.