ECCO professional. (personal information manager) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by J. Blake Lambert
ECCO Professional is a Windows Personal information Manager (PIM) that's also a database. Happily, though, it doesn't feel like a database most of the time.
ECCO is intuitive throughout, with three basic views: PhoneBook, Calendar, and Outline. To create an appointment or action item with someone in your PhoneBook, simply drag that person's name from the PhoneBook to the Calendar or To-Do list. ECCO notes the appointment in both places, inserting a note with the phone number.
Highlight a name and click on a Dialer icon, and an autodial window pops up, a Logged Call entry appears below the name in the PhoneBook, and logging begins when you dial.
You can import either tab-separated or comma-separated values files into the PhoneBook. Just show ECCO which file and give names to fields in the import file match preset ones in the ECCO file and give names to fields that don't already exist in ECCO. (Sharp Wizard and HP 95LX owners can order a free data-transfer application; others may purchase a file-conversion program that supports numerous data formats.)
You can export your information for use in a mail merge or use the ECCO Shooter, an arrow icon that sticks to the title bar of the active window. The Shooter lets you exchange data with another Windows program as if you'd used the clip-board cut-and-paste functions by selecting a program from a pop-up list. ECCO also supports object linking and embedding.
ECCO makes linking information effortless. When you drag an item (person, appointment, outline, to-do) from one view to another, a copy remains in the original location. Edit any of these copies, and the others change, too. This way you can have several methods of accessing the information later.
You can view combinations of a personal-organizer page and a spreadsheet, with a fixed column on the left and scrolling columns on the right for extra information. You can navigate quickly in the views, and you can search, sort, and filter the items. Items in any view can by text or graphics.
The Calendar View provides daily, weekly, and monthly displays and also contains the Tickler (to-do list). You can also set simple or custom alarms and create recurring events.
As with the other views, Outlines can display columns of dates, names, or other useful information. It's easy to change the color or style of all items on a particular level, and you can expand and collapse the Outline as you work.
Folders let you organize items that you want to keep together. Standard folders include the PhoneBook and Scheduling folders, but you can easily create your own. ECCO lets you drag items into a folder or drag folders into or out of outlines (to view or remove them).
ECCO includes templates to help you get started with specific uses: research, sales, legalities, and project management. It handles information and ideas well, produces nice printouts in handy organizer sizes, and has many more features than could be covered here. It takes a while to get used to some of ECCO's advanced features, but it's useful straight out of the box. If you're just looking for a simple day book, you might find Lotus Organizer or the shareware Time and Chaos a more economical choice. But ECCO's outline and database functions make it far more than a simple PIM. Arabesque is so sure you'll like it that the company provides a 60-day money-back guarantee on the program.
(206) 869-9600 $395
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