YourWay. (personal information management software) (evaluation)
by Richard O. Mann
Though YourWay is often reviewed as a personal information manager (PIM), Prisma Software prefers to call it a Personal Productivity Workstation. What's that? It turns out to be a contact management-based program that handles schedules, phones, to-do lists, and basic written communication centered on the personal information database that's the hub of an office worker's day.
Viewed as traditional PIM, YourWay has shortcomings. Once you understand its objectives, however, you'll find that it's right on target.
YourWay is designed to automate an office worker's card file of contracts, with automatic dialing, scheduling, letter writing, and a historical record of all contacts.
It all revolves around a simple card file. (As a Windows 3.0 program, YourWay presents the cards graphically onscreen.) Simply label the fields you want on each card; thereafter the field names appear on every card. In the word processor, you can design letter templates that pull address data from the cards, or you can simply write a letter while the addressee's card is on top of the pile. In either case, the letter will be logged into the card's note field, which could be though of as a large piece of paper folded and stapled to the back of the index card.
To call someone, pull up that card and have the computer dial for you. As you talk, add directly to the note field. The call and certain basic information about it will be logged into the note field automatically.
To schedule time, pull up the calendar; put the card for the person involved on top of the pile. Enter the event on the calendar, and an automatic notation appears in the card's note space.
Use the to-do list--presented as a drawing of a clipboard with four lists in priority order--to track tasks without specific deadlines. Again, entries post to the note field of the top card.
Launch applications directly from YourWay by putting the associated filename on an index card. If you need a certain spreadsheet when you talk to the boss on the phone, for example, put the filename on his or her card. Click on it, and YourWay summons the spreadsheet.
For any serious word processing, you'll want to launch your regular word processor. YourWay automatically passes your text to the Windows clipboard; just paste it into your mainline word processor and continue. While less versatile than Write (the program that comes with Windows), YourWay's word processor possesses a surprisingly robust spelling checker and thesaurus that might prove useful.
Some may find the index cards themselves confusing. The field names are there, but they're not like those in any other database you've use before. You can enter as much text as you'd like in each field--they're all free-form text fields. You can even delete fields from individual cards and type extraneous material anywhere on a card. While useful, this feature sometimes proves disconcerting.
YourWay provides tightly integrated contact management and history, with basic functions that are easily augmented by full-function applications. While this clever program isn't exactly my way, it could easily be yours.