Are you a GTD convert, looking for a great tool?

OT2006BoxesI recently came across a quite amazing offer from AxoSoft,  that allowed me to get a 5 user version of their project management software OnTime for just $5 rather than $495, even better the $5 was donated to the Red Cross!  I have been struggling to find a project/task management solution thats flexible enough for my needs so I thought I would give it a try.

You can get access to the offer from here,  there is no link on the web site,  so the only way is through the blogsphere.  At the time of posting they had taken 645 orders and raised $3225 for the Red Cross.

5 minutes later my activation key arrived and I was up and running.  You need to install MSDE, but once thats done you have a 5 user system that is really powerful.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • It’s designed to support defect, feature and task tracking/management,  but its very easy to re-configure it. In my case I changed Defects to Activities, changed a few field names and removed a few others and I now have a project management and task management solution, instead of a bug tracker!
  • It’s client server,  it has a great web client that connects to an SQL server or MSDE database
  • They say that MSDE can easily support 50+ users
  • It has a web client as well that’s broadly equivalent in functionality
  • It allows you to build a hierarchy of projects, and browse your tasks at any level in the hierarchy
  • It allows you to sort, group, filter and search items
  • It allows you to store a description, notes, attachments (linked or embedded), work logs, emails and more against every item
  • It’s wildly configurable,  the descriptions of pretty much every field and view can be changed to suit your needs and pick lists like status, priority etc can be customised
  • It allows you to create emails, from items
  • It allows you to automatically monitor any number of pop email accounts, and auto-process the emails that arrive in them.  In my case I created a number of email accounts and associated them with the activity and task lists.  Found that I could then automatically create an archive of emails associated with each task,  just by forwarding or cc-ing the email accounts I created and placing the task number in the subject field, (for example adding [#44] anywhere in the subject would attach that email to activity 44.
  • You can create custom fields, add them to forms and and then group by them,  which is great for GTD users,  although you already have severity, status, priority fields as standard, but you can add fields for different places and different categories.

This is a truly amazing tool for the small project team,  but really excellent for a single user as well.  Unfortunately the 5 user for $5 trial may soon be over, but don’t despair because the 1 user version – which is functionally the same – is FREE of charge.  Here is a sample screen shot:

Mainwindow

A few other notes:

  • You will want to backup your database,  to do that I created an ODBC connection (in control panel) to my database and then added the following command to the batch file that does my regular nightly backup.  (onetime is the name of the ODBC connection)

OSQL -E -n -D onetime -Q “BACKUP DATABASE onetime TO DISK = ‘D:\Steve\SQL server\master.bak’ WITH INIT”

  • There are some really great screen cams that show you how to use it,  start with the overview to get an idea of the power
  • I found a bug in the pop email account monitoring service,  it doesn’t seem to download attachments, which is a real shame.  They are working on a fix.
  • This is not a great solution if you need to keep your tasks in sync with your laptop, desktop, PDA etc.  However you can use the automatic email processing to allow you to create tasks by sending the appropriate account an email, which is pretty easy.  In fact as many of my tasks are initiated by email in the first place it’s often pretty natural to do it that way.  There is a feature request in to create Outlook sync.
  • Check out the support forums for more bugs and issues

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting and useful article!

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