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SHADOW PLAN v 1.31

The Palm community is blessed with a multitude of small, independent programmers. If there is a need for a certain type application, chances are some PDA user is creating the application at home, at night, in his or her free time. Shadow Plan, currently in v 1.31, is just such a program.

The outliner field, dominated by a few big names like BrainForest for several years, hasn't seen much innovation. True, BrainForest Pro has finally offered a desktop conduit, though it is still far from true synchronization (for that, you'll have to look to Bonsai). But BrainForest itself hasn't changed at all since I first downloaded it almost two and a half years ago. It's a cool program, no doubt. But is it so perfect that there is nothing to add? Not hardly. Just a quick look at Shadow Plan reveals myriad enhancements that the old outliners lack.

Like most outliners, Shadow offers hierarchical lists with due dates, priority settings, and check boxes. You can attach notes to individual items, and import and export lists to MemoPad. Shadow can link to your Datebook and ToDo list. But Shadow also adds the features and flexibility that other outliners lack.

For one thing, there is great color support. To me, an outliner is as much a visual tool as an hierarchical one. The ability to sort and separate tasks by adding color highlights and other visual cues is a great addition.

Furthermore, Shadow Plan is amazingly versatile in its numbering schemes. Shadow can number each sub-level separately or it can enforce auto-numbering. The decision is yours. Ordering can be alphabetic (a-b-c or A-B-C) or numeric (1-2-3) or Roman (i-ii-iii-iv or I-II-III-IV) or bulleted (*). This is especially useful in long or complex outlines.

If you are planning a task or project list, Shadow has a series of dating options to help track your progress. You can enter a target, start, and finished date. There is also a Progress Bar that can be updated in 10% increments to keep track of how much you've done on each sub-menu item as well as on the overall Heading Item.

You can highlight items in an almost inconceivable number of way: by due dates, by priority, by Targets today, Target This Week, Targets completed late, Targets started late, checked or unchecked items, and more. You can have completed items checked off or struck through. In fact, from the choice of circles or boxes from check lists, to suppressed indents, to large or small arrows for sub menus, the on screen display in Shadow is almost entirely up to the user.

Shadow is still a young program. I've found a few small bugs in it, though none of them were bad enough to dim my enthusiasm for the application. The good news is that the developer is very responsive. He updates the program almost weekly -- and sometimes more often than that. There is a long list of features he plans to add, including desktop synchronization.

If you are looking for an outliner, this program is definitely worth a test drive. Look for it at http:// www.icomm.ca/~skeezix/palm


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Send email to Jeff Mitchell at support@skeleton.org