Last month I wrote about tablet PCs, and for the next few issues I'm going to write about software that can help to make them worthwhile.
In one sense, a tablet PC is very much like a laptop or notebook PC. It runs Windows XP Tablet Edition, which is a superset of Windows XP Pro. The added functionality is mainly to allow input by using the pen that comes with the tablet.
Since it's running XP, a tablet can run just about any software that will run under Windows XP. You can install Microsoft Office and use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc., on a tablet.
However, it's the ink-enabled applications that really make it worthwhile to use a tablet. The tablet includes Microsoft Windows Journal, which emulates a pad of paper - you can write on it just as you would write on paper, you can write anywhere on the page (and create as many pages as needed), and draw pictures if you want. You can also search these notes, even if you left them stored in your handwriting.
It's a nice start, but Journal isn't really powerful enough to turn a tablet into a serious productivity tool. Another program that can make your tablet much more useful is FranklinCovey TabletPlanner.
If you've used the FranklinCovey planning system, then you know how to use TabletPlanner. This program does a very good job of digitizing your Franklin Planner book. The screens look just like the pages in the paper version of the planner.
The Day View shows your calendar for the day, with your Prioritized Daily Task List. With a tap, you can view your Master Task list. A tap on a checkbox can change a task from the master list to the daily list, or back to the master list. Other views will let you see a week or an entire month at a time.
There's a screen for the Daily Notes, often called the "right-hand page." This looks like a lined sheet of paper, and you can make notes about what has transpired on this day. This view also includes an inspirational quote at the top of the page, a different quote every day.
TabletPlanner can also store your contacts. Additional tabs can store any kind of notes, and the documentation for TabletPlanner is actually a set of notes in a tab named "Planner Guide." When you install TabletPlanner, it adds a printer named FranklinCovey TabletPlanner. You can add a note simply by printing from any application to this printer. The note will look just like a printed copy would, including formatting and graphics. Of course you can also print to any physical printer that your tablet can connect to.
You can also add notes using ink, and leave them in your handwriting or convert them to text. You can add handwritten comments to notes that you printed into TabletPlanner from other applications.
The Notes section includes standard FranklinCovey forms such as My Mission Statement, Values, Goal Planning, Meeting Planner, and many others. You can make copies of the form simply by printing them back into TabletPlanner.
If you're using Outlook, you can sync appointments, contacts and tasks. (Notes do not sync to Outlook.) It won't sync to a Palm, but I sync Outlook to both TabletPlanner and my Palm, so I can still carry my information in my pocket.
You can download TabletPlanner and try it for 30 days. After that, you can register it for $99.95.
Note that the software by itself will not make you more organized - you still need some organizational skills, and it's best if you've had training such as the FranklinCovey workshops.
If you like the FranklinCovey planner and have a tablet PC, you'll like TabletPlanner.
Charles Olsen is a writer, trainer and MIS professional. He presents classes on Palm computing and time management on the Palm, and writes a monthly column about handheld computing for the HAL-PC magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.