Featured FREE Resource:

Newsletter | Advertise | CONTACT | Facebook Twitter | LinkedIn
Wednesday, April 23 2014  
Welcome to SymbianOne - smartphone and mobile industry tech news for wireless developers, device makers, and mobile industry architects
Home arrow App Reviews arrow DreamConnect: A Better Contacts Mouse Trap
HomeNewsArticlesApp ReviewsDirectoryResourcesAboutLBSEVENTSDevices
Give SymbianOne a Like on facebook
GeoJobs / LBS / AnyGeo Blog / Twitter
Need A Wireless Developer?... Post Your Free Job Listing in our Career Center Today!
Mobile Tech Feature Articles from SymbianOne

Developer /Geek Reading - Free e-Book, Linux from Scratch - This 318 page eBook provides readers with the background and instruction to design and build custom Linux systems.

DreamConnect: A Better Contacts Mouse Trap Print E-mail
Written by SymbianOne   
Sunday, 02 September 2007
Developing mobile software is challenging, so going head-to-head with a built-in application has to be the most risky option. Australian developer DreamSpring has risen to this challenge and in the process shown how a really slick contact application should behave.

DreamConnect started life back in the days of EPOC and Psion's PDAs (and is still on sale and selling today). From the EPOC version DreamConnect migrated to UIQ 2. It has now been totally reengineered for the latest UIQ 3 phones, to take advantage of the new UI components.

At first sight DreamConnect could easily be confused for the UIQ Contacts application. Their list views both provide a search box, in the application heading, and a list of contacts below. The selected contact has an expanded detail line in both applications and a select box is shown.

DreamConnect mimics the layout of the standard Contacts application.

However, closer examination reveals that a contact's detail line in DreamConnect includes a number of additional icons. These icons allow direct access via a touch screen to all the communication methods applicable to the displayed address. For example, on a mobile phone number a single tap can start a phone call, or open the SMS or MMS editor. On a key based UIQ phone (as exemplified by a P990 running in flip closed mode) this quick access advantage is lost, as the message option needs to be started from the "More" menu, as it does in Contacts.

DreamConnect also offer several extra ways of sorting contacts for display. These options can be expanded or customized using an XML file.

DreamConnect offer several extra ways to sort and display contacts.

At this stage the advantages of DreamConnect do not seem particularly significant, searching for a contact quickly reveals the first of many significant improvements in functionality. In Contacts a search finds the first contact matching the entered string, based on the current contact name display options. So typing "Fre" might find the first "Fred", assuming contacts details are displayed as "first name" "last name". In DreamConnect the list of contacts is filtered as a search string is entered, so only the matching records display. In addition, the filtered names displayed are all the contacts containing the search string in the contact's displayed "title". So in DreamConnect "Fre" will find all the contacts with the first name "Fred", but also those contacts that have a surname, or (where no personal names are present) the company name containing the string "Fre".

Searching in DreamConnect is much more powerful than in Contacts.

Given that most of the time the user knows who they want to call, surely Contacts' searching is more than adequate? Take an example. If a Contacts list is sorted by first name, but the information remembered is a person's surname then the record can not be found simply by typing in part of the surname in the list view. On a P990 this problem can be overcome by using the "Find" option and then opening the contact. On an M600 or W950 the approach is more complex, as there is no find option. To achieve the same on an M600 the "sort by" option that displays the surname first needs to be selected and then the search performed.

Powerful searching does not end with fast filtering in DreamConnect. From the "More" menu there is a further "Find" option that allows complex queries to be created. This feature filters contacts based on data matched to specific contact fields, and complex select type queries can be created. For example, in DreamConnect it is possible to determine all the contacts that work for a specific company in Germany. Particularly useful is the ability to search in the content of notes, which makes notes a powerful tool for storing ad-hoc contact information. The find option is also integrated with the search field in the list view, allowing the direct entry of complex search criteria without using the "Find" query builder dialog.

Smart Find enables very powerful contact database searching.

The list display offers the familiar Contacts features such as the ability to create new contacts, jump straight to editing a contact, and send contact details. DreamConnect also introduces some new features, such as duplicating a contact, cut or copy a contact, and importing/exporting.

While Contacts allows contacts to be classified by folders, DreamConnect expands this paradigm in two ways with a hierarchical folder system. This system allows nested folders to be created and a contact to be registered in multiple folders. This is a very powerful way to classify contacts. However there is an issue to be aware of: DreamConnect's folders are not included as part of the desktop synchronization. This means that, should the contacts database be cleared (because of a firmware upgrade or device reset) and recreated from the desktop, the folder information is lost. Fortunately, if it is possible to plan ahead, DreamConnect's export retains the folders. This allows the contents of the database to be exported, save to a memory card, and reloaded.

Hierarchical folders enable powerful contact classification.

The list view also includes a "dynamic group" feature, which enables messages to be sent to multiple contacts. This feature is very versatile; each "dynamic group" can be saved and the "addresses" used can be defined in some detail. For example, an SMS could be sent to all the "work" mobile numbers recorded against the selected contacts or an email sent to only the first personal email address for all the selected contacts. However, groups created in DreamConnect are not shared with Contacts - and visa versa.

Dynamic Groups offers a fast, flexible way to contact several contacts at once.

While DreamConnect's list view bears a striking resemblance to Contacts' the similarity in views disappears in the Card view. DreamConnect provides a business card style layout for the contact information, allowing the contact details to be viewed on a single screen. Apart from making the contacts details more easily readable (as all the details can be accessed by scrolling the view), this view has two advantages over Contacts' detail view. Firstly, each contact element can be selected separately by scrolling through the card, allowing all communication methods to be selected directly. Secondly any text element on the DreamConnect detail screen can be selected and copied, invaluable for copying an address to an email or SMS. This type of action is simply not possible in Contacts.

DreamConnect provides a business card style view of a contact, with full access to all communication options and full text selection.

In addition, the details view is formatted dynamically, depending on the contact details recorded and the group the record is in: contacts classified as "Business" have business numbers displayed first. In addition there is a special layout for contacts with only a company name.

The detail view adapts to the contacts content.

DreamConnect's edit view carries on the single view philosophy, with all the contact fields presented in a single list. Whether this is an advantage or not will probably come down to personal preferences. It does make finding those contact fields in the middle of the list, such as birthday or web pages, more laborious than in Contacts.

DreamConnect's single list for editing contact details may not suit everyone.

The DreamConnect editor does however have several features not seen in Contacts. With DreamConnect it is possible to add multiple note fields. These notes can then be set as public (which means they are included in synchronizations or sendings) or private. This is a useful feature to differentiate between who gets to know that "she like tea, not coffee" or "his mistress lives in Boston". The editor also includes a feature to merge contact details. This can be very useful where accident or synchronization with multiple desktop contact lists results in duplicates. The merge process is slightly convoluted, involving as it does cutting the contact from the list view, then opening the new "master" contact and pasting in the other contact details. The editor also includes functionality to undo and redo any changes, which certainly helps protect against accidental changes.

Multiple notes fields offer versatility in storing extra contact information.

While the DreamConnect contact editor retains (and adds) to the features seen in the Contacts editor - including more advanced features such as picture selection, and editing and setting a contacts ring tone - it does not support the voice tagging of contacts. This means Contacts still needs to be used if voice dialing is required on a Sony Ericsson phone.

DreamConnect is a powerful, well thought out contact application. The features delivered in DreamConnect make the standard UIQ contacts manager look pedestrian. Smart find and dynamic groups makes managing and using a large database of contacts on a UIQ device both practical and straightforward. At the same time DreamConnect streamlines day-to-day activities, such as finding a contact and initiating communications, easier and faster.

While the benefits of DreamConnect for those with a small list of contacts might be marginal, anyone with more than a few tens of contacts will find DreamConnect offers a significant productivity boost over the built in UIQ Contacts application.

When it comes to contacts on UIQ, there is a better mousetrap and it is called DreamConnect.

For more information on DreamConnect visit: www.dreamspring.com



Submit Your Mobile Tech News

Social Media Strategies

Social Media Strategy Workbook: This Workbook will help you to define your goals and audiences and to decide on the channels that make the most sense for you. Ready to figure out what social media means for you and your own organization? This Social Media Planning Workbook will help you to define your goals and audiences and to brainstorm the channels that make the most sense for you.  

47 Handy Facebook Stats and Charts - Do you know the best time to engage with your customers on Facebook? Learn this and more in this free eBook. They have compiled 47 stats, charts and graphs on Facebook that are easy to share and put into presentations.  

Nokia Lumia 900 4G Windows Phone, Black (AT&T)

Contribute to the SymbianOne Symbian Search!

Top of 

(c)2003 - 2008, SymbianOne - All rights reserved