Eventlates

I find myself wasting a lot of time creating calendar events that share a lot of properties, but differ in time of occurrence and duration. Auto-complete still requires per-field interaction.

For example, a band may rehearse regularly, but not on a fixed, repeating schedule that can be cleanly accommodated by a calendaring app’s recurring event interface. You want to be able to easily create an event involving the same people (your bandmates), usually at the same place (your rehearsal studio), with a varying date and duration.

Templates to the rescue.

Event Templates Pane

Event templates sorted by use

  • Once dropped to the calendar area, the template title text is given keyboard input focus to allow renaming from the default.
  • A Custom sorting option allowing the user to arrange the templates however they like might be useful. The set of templates you use may change over time as you work on different projects.
  • Double-clicking a template opens the editor.
  • Modifications to events created from templates do not propagate back to the template.
  • Deleting a template has no effect on events created from the template.
  • A menu command allows a stand-alone event to be used as the basis for a new template.

Event Template Editor

Event template editor

  • Modifications to templates do not propagate to events created from them.
  • As they exist outside of specific dates, only a default duration is set on a template.
  • All other properties can be set as with normal events.

Problems

Templates would not work cleanly in Contactizer‘s All events list view. What happens when you drop a template event to the list? A title field and date/time picker could appear at the drop point. It’s still likely to be less input than creating the event from scratch.

Suggestions for a Wiser Contactizer

Contactizer does a lot, but there are many small rough edges that add up to significant frustration.

General

  1. When the Download button on the Contactizer version update information window is clicked, the window should probably close.
  2. The precise view state should be retained across application launches; this is particularly annoying in Tasks, where I almost always want “Uncompleted Tasks” as the view.
  3. Dock menu commands for creating a new task, event, contact, or communication would allow users to open a new creation window without having to first bring Contactizer forward, then arrange the windows so that they could see the e-mail or web page that contains the information they need for the new item.
  4. The mouse wheel does not zoom in and out when viewing a Google map.
  5. An “Empty Trash” contextual menu command when clicking on the trash would save some mousing for those with large screens.
  6. The Category Inspector requires a click to acquire focus and then a click to use. The first click is unnecessary and should be removed.
  7. The Category Inspector window should be resizable, at least vertically.
  8. When multiple objects are selected, the right details pane should display their names and the Categories menu to allow bulk assignment.

Contacts

  1. Nicknames should also be considered when looking for the cards of related people; if I set Bob Smith as a friend, Robert Smith’s card should appear in the pop-up.
  2. When adding an associated URL, it would be great if the domain name was autoselected; rather than highlighting “www.example.com”, just “example” would be selected. This saves a tiny bit of work by allowing the user to begin typing without having to first adjust the text selection.
  3. It would make sense to automatically check the enterprise membership box when creating a new user while viewing the enterprise group.
  4. If two people are members of the same enterprise (perhaps matching company names and work e-mail domains), create links between the two as colleagues.
  5. When viewing an Enterprise Group, the organization’s address should have an arrow that opens a map.

Tasks

  1. New tasks should have a default status of “Needs Action” rather than “None”.
  2. If I select a start date in the future, then choose a due date, the due date calendar widget should default to a date after the future start date. The next day or a week after the start date, perhaps.
  3. If I click the Add Task button while viewing a category-based Smart Filter view, the new task should have the same categories assigned by default.

Calendar

  1. If I change the start time from AM to PM after setting start and end times, update the end time to PM rather than presenting me with an error dialog. Even the monstrosity that is Lotus Notes 7 does this! Obviously, it would also be necessary to handle instances where the end time will be in the morning of the next day if the start time is changed from AM to PM.
  2. After clicking the plus button to add an alarm, the number text field should be given focus with the contents highlighted for immediate editing.
  3. What is the difference between Optional and Not Required status for attendees? If you are Not Required, aren’t you Optional?
  4. If I do create an event for the current day, it would make sense to set the start time to the nearest hour or half hour rather than the start of the day; I’m probably going to create an appointment for later today, not one that has already occurred.
  5. If I select a future date for an event, the End box should automatically update to that day instead of stupidly staying at Today. I’m not an expert on the science of space-time, but I do know that an event cannot start in the future and end in the present.
  6. As in iCal, “Create New Event…” should be available in the contextual menu when clicking on a day/time.
  7. Show the Type icon next to the event title! The icons are fairly distinctive and are more glanceable than the text name:value pair.
  8. If I set an event’s status to Canceled, why show the alarms? They should be retained in case the event is rescheduled or the status change was accidental, but they don’t need to be shown if the status is Canceled.
  9. Alarms relative to an event’s start time do not automatically update. I moved an event several days, but the alarm went off 10 minutes before the original start time.
  10. Contact addresses and previously input strings (such as room names) should be presented using auto-complete in the Location field.
  11. The ability to drop contacts from the People Picker HUD to the calendar to create events is great. Extending the interaction to allow drops to existing events (either in the calendar grid, the Invitations tab, or the right details pane) would make it even better.
  12. Items with no specified end time (such as those imported from last.fm) appear in the list view, but not the calendar view. I think automatically assigning them a one hour duration would be safe and helpful.
  13. The attendee names included in the title of an event created via drag-and-drop from the People Picker should be comma separated (“Meeting with Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath, Connie Kay”).

More broadly, I’d like to see a lot of the form controls replaced with more natural text input. Stikkit does a pretty good job of parsing dates and times without users having to play with spinboxes and other widgets.