Sunday, July 29, 2007

Where is the recycle bin of Open Contacts?

Where is the recycle bin of Open Contacts?

It is by design that Open Contacts does not provide Recycle Bin functions. When you delete contacts, you should know what you are doing.

If you don't want the contacts to be too crowed with never contacted contacts and want to re-access the info of deleted contacts in the future, you have a few options:

1. Before making deletion, backup the database, and name it after a naming convention reminding you the purpose of the backup.

2. Export selected contacts to an XML file first then delete contacts.

The second option may be more handy as the XML files are text files which can be searched. So you can

easily locate legacy contacts, and reinstate the info of these contacts by importing the XML files.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Making Open Contacts portable

It is easy to make Open Contacts be accessible through PortableApps Start Menu by copying program files and data files under [PortableAppsRoot]\PortableApps\OpenContacts. Open Contacts by default will use the program (target) directory as working directory if working directory is not specified. However, PortableApps somehow would list fbclient.dll in the start menu. As this visual effect is obviously undesirable, we had made a distribution package optimized for PortableApps.

When being launched from a portable device, the INI file has better to have setting "DisableCOM=1", then Open Contacts will not respond to COM client call, as in general practices, a portable program has better not to be a COM server. And actually the memory footprint is around 250KB less with this condition.

The proxy program "Open Contacts.exe" basically have only one statement:

ShellExecute(0, PChar('open'), PChar( ExePath+'app\program\OpenContacts.exe'), '', PChar(ExePath+'data'), 1);

Monday, July 16, 2007

Backup address book

No matter how you store your contact info, on paper, PC, PDA or Web, you may have realized the importance of backing up data. If you store contact info electronically, you may sync data between PC, PDa and Web. So if you lost data on one of the platform, you may restore the data from the redundant storages of other platforms. However, synchronization sometimes still stuff things up, resulting corrupted data on all platforms.

Therefore, don't be lazy, and just backup your data regularly.

Use the built-in backup function of OC

This function will use the default mechanism of backup of Firebrid database to make a backup file of the GDB file which store all your essential contact info. The backup file is generally 1/10 of the size of the GDB file. You may then copy the file to external medias.

To restore, run Open Contacts, and run command "Restore" and locate the backup file, then the backup file will be restored and current GDB file will be overwritten with the restored one.

Copy data files

After closing Open Contacts, locate the GDB file of your address book, and copy it to an external media such as CD-ROM-R, as you will do for backing up other important data. If you have contacts with linked files and some custom templates, you may want to backup all content of the user data directory. A recommend practice is to store all these data files into a zip file.

To restore, make sure OC is close, and copy the backup files to overwrite files in the user data directory.

Export to XML

With version 4.1.1 or above, you may "Export selected contacts to XML with options". With the combination of "Categories", "Linked Contacts", and "Settings", you may export contacts, predefined fields, predefined sections and settings into a single XML file.

To restore, open OC and import the XML file. As the XML file preserve all contact info and settings, you may use feed it to other high end information management systems as you expand your business.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Hidden Powers of Open Contacts

One of the design principles of Open Contacts is: adding more features without crowding or complicating the user interfaces.

Comparing with the main windows of version 1 and version 4.1, they look very similar. And actually the higher versions look simpler.

As the program is used by large varieties of audiences, we generally let the users decide whether to turn on new features provided, when they feel they need something more. Many of the new features may be activated only when appropriate checkboxes get checked in the Options window.

Though the default features of Open Contacts have already suppress many other address book programs, if you are feeling that you want more from Open Contacts, it is time to evaluate those settings in the Options windows after reading "What's New".