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Daylite 5 Builds Upon Prior Successes

Daylite, Marketcircle’s customer care and business productivity app for OS X and iOS, has been updated to version 5, nearly two years after the release of version 4. While DL5 looks similar to its predecessor (at least on the Mac), there are a number of changes likely to please current users. Let’s take a look at the improvements in each component of Daylite:

Daylite for Macintosh

Changes to the Sidebar

The toolbar's sidebar toggles.

DL4’s sidebar was a visual improvement over DL3’s source lists, bringing that part of the UI more in line with other Mac apps, but the ability to hide the sidebar was not something brought over to DL4. That omission has been corrected and there is now both a widget in the toolbar and a menu command to toggle the sidebar’s visibility.

Folders can be nested.

A bigger deal in DL5 is the addition of folders. With smart lists becoming more powerful (and Marketcircle guiding users to using them to pull out data instead of reports), many users have found that user-created lists get out of control when they’re all on the same level. Folders allow a greater degree of organization for both normal lists and smart lists.

The option to create a new folder can be found in the menu (New > New Folder) and by using the “+” at the bottom of the sidebar.

Renaming and deleting folders, as with lists, can be accomplished by control-clicking on the folder and choosing the appropriate command; however, if you’ve learned to click on a list to select or double-click to rename, you’ll find those actions only toggle the visibility of a folder’s contents. I’d prefer that working with folders in Daylite be similar to using them in Finder.

Enhanced Smart Lists

Filter by items without links.

Smart lists themselves (and filters) have become smarter in DL5. Previously, duplicating a smart list meant laboriously recreating every criteria; now it’s as easy as control-clicking and selecting Duplicate Smart List. (Normal lists can also be duplicated.) But it’s the new criteria that I find useful: “is blank” (for most fields), “none” (for categories), and “none exist” (for links to items). These options greatly simplify—or, in some cases, make possible—the creation of NOT criteria.

Flexible Activity View

New filtering options have also made it to the Activity view, allowing users to display All Communication, Files & Attachments, and Groups, in addition to the previous filters. And the search field for activities now search not only the name, categories, and keywords, but also the content—a big improvement.

A new feature that I suspect will be under-appreciated is the timeline that now runs down the left side of the Activity view. All activity for the selected object (as filtered) is represented by tick marks in the timeline; clicking a tick mark will scroll the view so that the item is centered, if possible, in the view. The shaded area of the timeline represents the visible portion of the view and the red line delineates “now.”

Numbers in the timeline are years, while months are characters. I found the months confusing at first, in part because of the two-character abbreviations, but also because they show up only when the date range for the filtered activities is fairly small.

Repeating Tasks Are Finally Here

The features above are really just incremental improvements, but it’s this next one that will matter to a lot of people. Folks have been clamoring for repeating tasks for as long as I’ve been using Daylite and Marketcircle has finally delivered. As with Appointments, Tasks can repeat as long as they have a due date. All future occurrences will appear in your calendar, but Tasks lists will only show the next occurrence.

Insights: A New Way to Look at Your Data

The Insight view is DL5’s biggest new feature and is essentially an interactive report on People, Companies, Projects and Opportunities. Switch to this view for any list or smart list and you can see summary data for many of the fields in your database. Hover over any of the data to quickly compare and click on any item to refine your point of view.

It will be interesting to see how users take advantage of this feature. I don’t recall any forum users asking for this, and my own clients have not brought it up to me, but Marketcircle is definitely trying to move users away from creating their own reports (which has not gotten any easier in DL5).

UI Improvements and Niceties

There are a number of improvements to the overall look and usability of DL in this release, most of which focus on the Activity view:

  • A “flatter,” more iOS 7-like design throughout much of the interface
  • Icons for activity filters and just about everywhere else you find popup menus
  • A colored category indicator for items in the Activity view. Unfortunately, it’s not consistent with the dot that’s used elsewhere and I fear that its far right placement makes it less noticeable.
  • The Activity view’s search field is visible without a click
  • The Activity view scrolls independently of the Detail view
  • The Activity view moves to a separate tab when horizontal screen space is limited
  • The right sidebar toggle widget is now in the toolbar

The release notes also mention a few bug fixes.

Daylite Mail Assistant (DMA)

At first glance there’s not much new to DMA, but look close and you’ll see there’s now an Edit button for the detail popovers. Click that and you’ll be able to edit the selected object within DMA, just as if you were editing it in DL. The feature accidentally showed up for a brief while in DMA4, but disappeared very quickly.

It’s now possible to jump directly to a record in DL without clicking “Show in Daylite”: instead of clicking the right-facing arrow to show the popover first, option-click the arrow.

(One of my nits was fixed in DMA5: the Mail bundle is actually called DayliteMailAssistant. In DMA4, it was DMI—a holdover from DL3.)

Daylite for iOS (Daylite Touch)

You can’t miss that DLT has been redesigned for (and requires) iOS 7. The mobile app also shares design cues with the desktop app, like the thin colored category indicators and the notifications indicator. But improvements in DLT run far deeper than a new coat of paint.

Improved Search

Search in DLT4 was limited to contacts and objectives, while DLT5 sports a global search field right on the Home screen that searches across all items and content. (The search fields on the Contacts and Objectives screens also search content.) Results are grouped by item types.

Background Syncing

Due to iOS 7’s background app refresh feature, DLT is able to sync in the background. Although I’ve seen intermittent problems with the app actually being able to sync, this has eliminated much of my frustration that previous versions caused when I opened the app hoping to use it, only to be forced to wait for a sync.

Oh, and you can pull to sync on the Home screen.

Miscellaneous Improvements and Bug Fixes

The release notes for DLT detail a number of improvements—like repeating tasks and duplicating objects—and bug fixes, but some were particularly important for me:

  • Companies can be linked to Companies
  • The first two fields in a Form are previewed in a Form row
  • I can finally add a new, linked objective while I’m adding a new contact–that feature disappeared in the DL4 upgrade

I’m still disappointed that filters and smart lists didn’t make it to DLT. And “@@” replacement hasn’t been fixed.

Daylite Server Admin

DLSA has received some modest improvements, which you’ll first see with the server on/off switch being moved to the toolbar. There’s a new layout for the Database and Network panes, and the General and Touch Server panes have been removed and their data has been incorporated into the Database pane.

These changes make it much easier for Daylite administrators to, well, administrate their Daylite installations. It’s very helpful now to have all devices on one screen and even see the app version installed on each device. I do find it strange, though, that the options for configuring remote access to the server are hidden behind an Advanced button; given that changes must be authenticated anyway, I don’t see that this offers any protection against inadvertent modifications.

One new feature that administrators will like is the ability to turn off notifications of Daylite updates and even prevent users from checking for updates. (This does not apply, of course, to App Store updates.) Administrators can apply updates on their own timetable without users feeling compelled to update.

Should I upgrade?

Absolutely! While I was critical of Daylite 4 on its release, Daylite 5 is a solid improvement to the Daylite line. However, read to the end to see if you should upgrade now.

There are some system requirements for the upgrade that may impact your ability to use Daylite 5. Daylite and Daylite Server, like version 4, require OS X 10.7 Lion or later and Daylite Touch requires iOS 7 (the app’s description says 7.1).

DL5 uses a new database schema, so once you’ve completed the upgrade there is no going back unless you’ve got a restorable backup of your DL4 database. DLSA creates a backup of your database before upgrading it, but it’s also good to make sure that you’ve got another, usable backup before proceeding.

DL5 is a paid upgrade. New users will pay $300 per user (each license allows a user to log into Daylite on all devices), which is $20 higher than DL4. There are discounts on purchases of 3+ licenses, but not for upgrades. Users upgrading from DL4 will pay $150 per user, which is $30 less than upgrades from DL3 to DL4 were two years ago. And purchases of DL4 between March 1, 2014 and April 24, 2014 are eligible for a free upgrade to DL5.

Existing reports, letter templates and most plug-ins will continue to work with DL5, as long as they were designed for DL4. DLS5 continues to use the same ports for remote access and filesystem paths are all the same, too, so the upgrade process will be much smoother than previously. But you must make sure to follow the upgrade instructions carefully to avoid data loss from failure to sync all devices first.

In general, my caveat is that users wait to upgrade business-critical apps and operating systems until a x.0.1 release. Although I’ve been using DL5 for several months and have seen nothing that would cause data loss, there are bound to be bugs that the larger base of Daylite users will find and I’d rather it not be you. In addition, if you’re working with a Marketcircle Expert, you should consult with them before upgrading.