Open-Source Chandler Takes New Task Tack, but Can Be Confusing

Users may have difficulty getting started with e-mail-oriented Chandler.  

To-do lists are simple to create but ridiculously hard to complete. Whether that paradox is the result of human apathy or ineffective tools and software is a riddle developers have sought to solve for decades.

The open-source Chandler is a personal information manager aimed at reshaping how users designate and accomplish tasks. I tested Version 0.7.4 of the software, currently in beta.

eWEEK Labs puts Chandler 0.7.4 through its paces. Check out the slide show.

Intentionally free-form in structure, Chandler gives users much flexibility in terms of workflow in their office environment. That very characteristic, however, often works against Chandler, as its user interface makes it difficult for users to even define what constitutes a task.

In fact, the biggest challenge with Chandler is actually initiating a workflow at all. This, I discovered, requires a good deal of ambition and planning. Add in the integration of yet another application, and re??íinventing office workflow feels like more of a problem than a perk.

The 1.0 release of Chandler is expected to provide additional tools to help get users started, with the Open Source Applications Foundation, the group behind Chandler, making some promising efforts to facilitate this. For now, given that the software is still in its developmental stage and various UI quirks still need solving, taking Chandler out for a test drive is as far as you'd want to go.

Chandler's desktop application is available for free and can be downloaded at The application runs on Windows-, Mac OS- and Linux-based systems.

A Web hub that lets others see your tasks and events without having to install Chandler themselves is also available. This is nice to have because project management has so much to do with interacting with others.