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Innovative and Handy Features

You might have ever been using many address book programs/functions since the early days when you started using computers. Many people just use address book functions of the Email programs like MS Outlook, Eudora and Netscape/Mozilla etc, and some others could be using standalone address book programs. And, there are still a lot of people using paper-base address books.

Some big questions to designing an address book program are:

Open Contacts provides many innovative features, and the comprehensive combination of these features is very handy for your daily data maintenance.

The innovative and dynamic user interface might be looking a bit strange comparing with address book programs/functions you have ever seen. And a 5-minute learning curve might be needed along with the evaluation of the Demo database. After playing with the demo database, you may continue to read the rest of this article, which will inspire you for using the full power of Open Contacts.

Unique features commonly used

1. Dynamic user interfaces:

Among all address book programs/functions you have ever evaluated, almost all of them provide fixed data fields, somewhat with a fixed number of custom fields. Apparently, such management leads to two sack backs:

a) Some data fields you want or you will want are not there. Custom fields are not enough, and they are placed in insignificant corner of the screen.
b) Some contacts have rich contact info, and some others might just have a phone number or email address. While you could have different attention to different contact methods of different people, fixed locations of data fields could not prompt the significant info.

With Open Contacts, almost all data fields are dynamic and customizable. And based on such dynamic and customizable data fields, you can design predefined data fields and predefined sections to accommodate frequently used data fields. Thus, the arrangements of data fields could easily be tailored for you and by you.

Open Contacts shows only data fields with info you inputted, and you can change the locations of data fields any time, so you could easily focus on those significant contact info. There are always enough data fields for you to input any kind of contact info..

2. Multi-level categories

Many address book programs/functions like MS Outlook and Eudora, support definition of categories of each contact, however, from certain point of view, the category is just a grouping, since there are no subcategories could be defined. Open Contacts provides real category trees. Furthermore, viewing contacts through subcategories recursively are supported. That is, when you click on a category, contacts of the category will be listed, and when you right-click on a category, contacts of the category and subcategories will all be listed.

3. Dynamic grouping of initials

Many address book programs/functions provide tabs of A-Z, and even there is no contact with a particular initial letter, the tab still appear. When you click on such tab, of course there will no be contacts listed. Open Contacts will show only existing initial letters.

4. Separation of person contacts and organizational contacts

In the past, such separation is only available in CRM programs. And Open Contacts is an address book program with some CRM features.

As most existing address programs does not have concept of such separation, after importing contacts from other data source, you may convert some of them into organizational contacts.

Flexibilities for some divisions of users

  1. Open Contacts could import contact info from MS Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape/Mozilla, and CSV. As MS Outlook and Eudora support categories, when importing, Open Contacts could import the categories as well.
  2. Some people want to list contacts of people by surname like “Smith, James”, and filter the list by initial of surname rather than initial of full name. Open Contacts could adapt such need as well.
  3. To share the database by multiple workstations, you could run the program in client/server mode. There is no performance penalty for sharing the database in LAN.
  4. The size of the backup copy of the database is generally around 1/10 of the size of the database. So you can send the backup copy to your Webmail account, and retrieve restore the backup copy on your company’s computer.
  5. The program is green enough for you to run the program and the data on portable devices like a USB memory drive.
  6. To share some contacts with your friend, you may export selected contacts into an XML file, and send the file via Email to your friends. Your friends may then import the XML file into Open Contacts to add or update. Such XML file could be considered as a super vCard.
  7. Most settings in the Options windows are stored in the address book database. So when you move the database to another computer running Open Contacts, the settings will apply.

As Open Contacts had provided such flexible platform for managing contact info, you will find innovative ways of using this platform.

Reliability and Speed

Unlike most other top-end contact managers which use file base database engines like xBase, FoxPro and Access etc, Open Contacts uses real database server engine Firebird which provides solid database capabilities. You need no worry about corrupted indexes and speed problems while using in LAN environment. By default, Open Contacts use Firebird embedded installed implicitly. To share the database in LAN environment, you just need to install Firebird on a host machine and copy the database to the host, then redirect all Open Contacts instances to the database.

We have built a test database for stress tests with around 30,000 contacts, each of which has around 30 fields. The size of the database is about 260 MB. When the program run and list all 30,000 contacts in the Contact List windows, the memory footprint for listing 30,000 contacts is about 5 MB. It took only 4 seconds to load the program and list contacts.