Task2Gather 1.0 Review

The Task2Gather web service is a promising new (and mostly free) site that allows you to do collaborative task management, much like Remember The Milk (see my review here). Unlike RTM, the T2G Windows Mobile client currently has no integration with the built-in WM task app. There were some bumps to get T2G working, like having to re-install the initial download. It is however a powerful alternative for managing team-oriented tasks from your device.

What is Task2Gather?

In simplest terms, it's a fancy web-based list manager really, with scheduling features and task-sharing thrown in. It has an attractive interface that is a pleasure to use, although a few features took a little time to puzzle out, regardless of the simplicity. RTM's web screens are almost too spartan for my taste, by comparison. I like the look of T2G--the little rotating wheel is a nice touch--so thereby increases the likelihood I will actually return and use it. The T2G blog and main web-site have excellent how-to's, information, and usage examples. You also sign up for your own free account there and download the mobile client.

Task2Gather on the Web

The T2G web interface upon first entry (after a login/password ) of course, bears some description, because while you could simply use the mobile client, you might want to use a computer instead. I can't say exactly why, but the screens do attract the eye, and have a nice layout (same for the client). I know, it's just a combination of CSS fonts, borders, and frames, but it's a winning combination in my book. Main task categories are indicated in the left-hand column and the default view will show a list of your tasks in the main pane to the right. The task detail pane appears underneath the main task pane (where you actually edit/create and delete task items). A small frame under the category column lists your task participants. You can invite participants to share your taskings via e-mail address, but they will have to sign up as well to participate.

Adding T2G calendar events with Google, and Evolution...

The main web interface also has some items that the mobile client is lacking, like a calendar feature, and reports generation. The iCalendar feature is quite handy, and you can export/import your taskings into an .ical formatted file. I tested importing the file into the Evolution mail client in Ubuntu, and my on-line Google mail, and both worked flawlessly. When clicked, it generates a calendar URL, which you can directly add to your Google calendar, but it didn't seem to update when I added new tasks at first. When I logged in again, the calendar did start to update. Another element worthy of note in the web browser version is the reports feature, which will enable filtering of task items for a summary report.

 

WinMo Task2Gather

Task2Gather installs to Windows Mobile currently from a desktop PC installer, which will require an Active Sync established connection to your handheld. I coud not locate a cab on the download site. You can register the client during install if you have already decided to buy the client, so go here to get the installer. I did have an issue sending invites from the initial V1 product, but VITO has fixed it, and I had to re-install a bit newer version (this time they sent a cab). The re-install complained it was not successful (even though it appeared to overwrite the older version just fine). I had no more problems, however.

 

Using T2G

The application is very easy to use. When you first start it up, a login screen appears, You obviously need an internet connection to connect--which is my pet peeve with T2G, one that RTM doesn't suffer from--and start adding, editing and viewing your task lists. The top level (essentially your categories or "Projects") will appear when you first log in. If you are already working in a pretty active project, you will see pertinent list of projects in a list view. Each project listed will also include information like assignee, due date, and also indicate if there are new unread items. T2G also employs a color scheme to allow you to assign different colors to your projects/tasks. This is quite helpful when trying to priotize your lists.

 

Creating and Assigning Tasks

There is a unity of purpose in the T2G screens that make it a cinch to create projects, and tasks. To add a new project, simply select the "+" button in the top right corner of the main screen. Add a name and description if you like. The same basic screen allows you to create tasks, etc.

In the tasks menu, you have some added fields to further clarify your tasks like setting a due date, add comments, a color, and estimated time vs actual time spent. Once you've entered your tasks, you can then invite participants via e-mail to join you on T2G (using the Share button). You simply add an e-mail address, and an invite will be sent. If they accept they can then be assigned tasks (selected in the assignee field) in your projects. They must sign up, of course, but do not need a mobile client, as they can simply use the web interface from nearly any web browser (I tested IE7, FIrefox 3.0.3 in Linux, and Chrome). Even iPhone users can collaborate in the same manner, as there is also a client available (however--the web version works quite well in Safari mobile...).

Setting a deadline on a task...look familiar, iPhone users?

Assigning task colors...

Viewing task history and adding comments...

Conclusion: There are a lot of ways to keep track of assignments, no doubt. I know at my company, we are regularly lamenting the lack of a collaborative service like T2G, and have tried Sharepoint, Livelink, and other document sharing programs that also include calendar, task integration options. Having been the unlucky system administrator that actually configured the services, I also know the trouble was seldom worth the effort. The workflow, and task/scheduling parts were either too complicated or un-wieldy to be effective and were not widely adopted by team members. Shared Outlook calendars were also (and in some cases are still) used. In the case of T2G, we would not be able to store sensitive corporate and program data on the external T2G servers, so I wish there was a business version that could be implemented internal to our company network.

There are a ton of small and large businesses out there though that probably do not have this limitation. I definitely think that VITO has developed a winning combination with this application. It could still use some tweaking around the edges on the WinMo client. I would like to see more native integration with the built-in WM PIM apps (I'm always beating this drum with WM vendors). It's the smarter app features, like in the case of iPhone/G1 that make them really standout! For example, I should be able to invite contacts directly from my contacts list in WinMo to a project, have task due dates automatically synced to my mobile calendar, and to my WM tasks app (if I choose) and much more--i.e. have location based services track (and display in Google maps) where a certain task location or meeting will occur for geographically dispersed business units and provide directions to attendees. Maybe allow new appointments being sent from my mobile calendar to be automatically synced to the T2G client, with attached documents as well....I could go on. VITO is already planning several upgrades and new features to T2G, but this version is a very promising start. I'm excited to see the future of it! T2G is $4.99, and I provided the download links above but magazine VIP members can get a 15% discount here...go check it out!

 

 

They must sign up, of course,

They must sign up, of course, but do not need a mobile client, as they can simply use the web interface from nearly any web browser (I tested IE7, FIrefox 3.0.3 in Linux, and Chrome).
http://www.smartphonemag.com/
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