CompuSchmooze September 2005: Omea Organizes Microsoft Outlook and the Web
By Steven L. Lubetkin
Copyright © 2005 Steven L. Lubetkin. All rights reserved.
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For nearly 20 years, many of us technology geeks have regarded a long-dead program, Lotus Agenda, as the gold standard for automated organization of free-form text on the PC. Now, a new program developed by a Czech software firm may be the answer to our long quest.
Agenda could read the text of an item in its database, and assign it tocategories matching those user-selected text characteristics. Users could create multiple views of the data, and instantly see relationships that Agenda uncovered, which were otherwise not immediately apparent. Lotus abandoned Agenda, mainly because Agenda was difficult to explain.
Omea Pro 2.0, released September 6 by JetBrains Software (http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/), gives you the ability to manage information from multiple sources in a single user interface.
Instead of having to switch among Microsoft Outlook, a USENET news reader, a web browser, a blog feed reader, and an instant message client, you can use Omea as an overlay for Outlook and substitute it for these other programs. Omea integrates tabbed views of your email, websites, newsgroups, instant message chats, and RSS feeds in a single window.
JetBrains, headquartered in Prague in the Czech Republic, started out as a developer of software tools for programmers, according to David Booth, executive marketing manager for JetBrains.
In an interview conducted via Skype (which you can hear on the CompuSchmooze podcast at http://compuschmooze.blogspot.com), Booth said one of the companys founders, Sergey Dmitriev, had just completed work on a Java software development tool called IntelliJ IDEA, that dramatically streamlined programming work for software writers, and turned his attention to the overal problem of information overload.
Sergey was looking at this information overload problem,” said Booth. “He thought, OK, if we build a product for these developers, maybe we can build a product for everyone else who still has lots of information but just has problems managing their sources.”
The name of the program comes from the Latin proverb by the poet Ovid, Omnia mea mecum porto, which means, “I carry all my things with me,” Booth explained.
Omea refers to each of these categories of items as resources, and they can be linked to each other, or associated with a Task.Email, contacts, and tasks all synchronize seamlessly with their counterparts in Outlook, so you can go back and forth between the two interfaces.
Having everything in a single interface is an incredible timesaver, but the realpower of Omea comes from its automatic category assignment feature. By creating a rule, you can test an incoming email message (or a newsgroup or RSS feed posting), and if it meets the rules conditions, it can be automatically assigned to categories you create.
For example, I create rules that identify emails sent to or from my clients, or news items that mention subjects of importance to those clients. Omea automatically assigns these items to the correct client category, and I can view or act on them all at once by clicking on that clients category folder.
One of the most powerful aspects of Omea’s category matching is its understanding of the concept of category inheritance. This means that if you create a category folder that has other folders inside it, any item thats in the subfolders will also appear in the top folder as well. For example, if I have a category called The Voice, if I nest that folder inside a folder called Federation, it will also be visible in the Federation folder.
Omea integrates nicely with Outlooks email. You can drag items into Outlook mail folders youve already created, and they will retain any category assignments made in Omea. You can create workspaces in Omea to reduce the amount of information you need to look at. So, for example, you could create a workspace for each client of project, and only include in that workspace the resources that are relevant to the client or project.
You can forward blog or newsgroup postings via email, or you can easily add an item to your own blog by right-clicking on it and using a third-party blogging program, like w.bloggar (www.wbloggar.com).
The only limitations of the program are minor. Omea only integrates instant messaging from ICQ (www.icq.com) or Miranda (http://miranda-im.org); Booth says JetBrains may consider integrating other IM clients, and will probably incorporate calendaring functions in a future release. The program costs $49, and a trial version is available.