I'm particular about calendar applications. I want complete power over repeating events, the ability to create to do items with varying levels of priority, non-modal reminders that won't interrupt my automated email procedures, and the ability to easily see what's coming up in the next week or so. For a year or so I used and liked the shareware Remember? from Dave Warker, and then Now Software sent me Now Up-to-Date 1.0 (NUD) to evaluate. I liked version 1.0, but I had some serious reservations, and as is my wont, I made my opinions known to Now. This put me on the beta list for version 2.0, and I'm pleased to report that Now implemented almost all my suggestions and fixed all my complaints in the latest version of NUD, which shipped at Macworld SF.
NUD attempts to serve as a complete calendar and To Do program for individuals and as a network-based scheduling system for groups. It offers public events, so that in an office situation individuals can keep their own personal events and also tap into various group events for tracking meetings, vacation days, birthdays, and the like. In either case, the calendar system updates well across multiple machines, so you can have your calendar on a desktop computer and take it home with you on a PowerBook too. This article focuses more on NUD's capabilities for a single person, because that's how I use it.
Views -- NUD excels in the number of views to your schedule that it provides. You can view events in Year, Month, Week, Multi-Day, Day, and List views, and you have a fair amount of control over how each view looks. One thing I appreciate is that you can edit events easily in any view other than Year, and to make basic changes to an event like the time or its title, you don't have to enter the Event Info windoid that holds all the event's data.
I don't need to specifically schedule events throughout the day since I work at home and have few meetings. As such, I leave the Month view open on my main 13" screen so I can glance at it to see what's happened and what's coming up. I like Month view best for viewing floating Post-It notes and floating banners (good for showing how long guests will stay, etc.). In Month view you can paste graphics into days (such as a Mac icon on October 19th every year for Apple's product introductions :-)), or you can have them free-floating like a banner or Post-It note.
Now added prioritized To Do items to NUD 2.0, and realizing that none of the temporal views (Month, Week, Day, etc.) made sense for viewing To Do items, they also added a customizable List view where you specify what parts of an event (Title, Priority, Start and Stop Time, Done status, and so on) show up in the list, and you define up to four ordered keys for sorting. You can create multiple list views (and different layouts for the Month view) showing different information, and you can keep multiple windows open at once.
I'm pleased to report that NUD understands about multiple screens, so I can zoom my List view on my SE/30's smaller screen and it zooms to fill only the SE/30 screen rather than the main 13" monitor. Out of the many calendar applications on the market that I've seen, NUD 2.0 offers the greatest flexibility for viewing your schedule.
Networking -- Now fixed NUD in 2.0 so that single users like myself can assign colors and styles to different categories of events without turning on NUD's powerful network capabilities, which allow multiple people to share a calendar over a network and keep their personal events private. NUD works nicely on a PowerBook, since when you disconnect from the network to leave, you have the latest version of the calendar, and when you return, NUD automatically updates the network calendar to account for events created or modified while you were away. I've only used this updating ability a few times, but it strikes me as easier to use and more powerful than the previous version.
Reminder -- Now enhanced reminders significantly in NUD 2.0. Version 1.0 used a modal dialog reminder that interrupted automated email, much to my irritation, but 2.0 uses the technology from the AlarmsClock extension (now called Reminder), which previously shipped with the Now Utilities. In 2.0 you can choose whether reminders will be in a modal dialog or be non-modal, flashing reminders that replace the included menu bar clock and optionally make a sound. You can snooze or dismiss events from a menu that drops down from the menu bar clock, and if a To Do item is ringing, you can mark it as Done from the menu.
Reminder's menu can display the rest of the day's events and To Do items, and it allows you to create new items and edit existing items even when the NUD application is not running. I have enough RAM to leave NUD running all the time, but many people will appreciate the ability to create and edit events without running the main application.
Printing -- I seldom travel, and especially since I can keep NUD running all the time, I have little interest in printing my calendar. However, NUD provides flexibility in printing as well, allowing you to choose the dates to print, the page style (NUD supports numerous organizer sizes and styles and prints guides for punching the pages), and the view you want to print. The only time I've printed pages is when I went to Macworld and wished to have a paper schedule to carry around with me. NUD has a graphical Day view that shows how conflicting events overlap in time, making it as easy as possible to determine which Macworld parties to attend and which to skip because of time conflicts. Those who use a Sharp Wizard to track appointments while away from the desk will appreciate NUD's improved import and export routines that are not only more flexible but also speak directly with a Sharp Wizard.
Overall, I'm pleased with NUD because Now addressed almost every one of my concerns about the first version and the subsequent betas. I still have a few quibbles, such as the inability to attach banners to a range of dates, and the strange interface for assigning a color to a category (for some reason you do that in the Define Sets dialog, rather than in the Define Categories dialog) but these are thoroughly trivial quibbles, and I recommend NUD highly. $65 discounted (for a single user, multi-user packs are available).
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