Archive for May 10th, 2011
Call me an email dinosaur, but I am still a fond user of Microsoft Outlook for dealing with work emails, contacts ,discussions and Do list (with a sync to ToodleDo). It may not be perfect, but it works for me, its fast to use, and gets the job done with the minimum of effort.
Recently, I was introduced to a FREE 3rd party add on called Xobni. As with most bolt on products, it’s actually available in a Freemium version. Xobni, sits on the side of outlook and adds lots of contact information and tools for most actions in outlook. The web site for Xobni says that it makes outlook more “contact centric” – I am not sure it goes that far, but it does make it a lot more powerful.
In a nutshell, whenever you work on an item (email, discussion, todo or contact) that is linked to a contact, a panel is displayed in outlook which shows the contact information. This is not the standard Outlook contact information, but a new contact form which is built from your activity with the contact.
Default Contact Options
The default Xobni information is picked up by scanning and indexing your emails, both sent and received. Using things like your contacts email signature bar and linked outlook contact entry, it generates the contact name, job title, phone numbers, email addresses, web sites etc. But beyond this, other useful information is pulled together for the contact such as:
- A graph of when you communicate – in and out sent dates and times (its meant to indicate the best times to communicate with the contact – not sure how useful this really is)
- Conversations – a list of recent emails to or from the contact, files exchanged (with links to the files), people in their network (people who your contact has emailed (via CC emails), etc
- Appointments scheduled in the past or future with the contact (from your outlook diary)
- URL Links shared between you – Premium content only
All of the above can be quickly re-viewed and actioned (replied to, changed, printed, etc) from the Xobni side window meaning that you don’t have to loose what is in the main screen of outlook. It is all pulled together very well, and is very useful.
Actions and Bolt Ons
Whilst the above summary information is very useful, the real power comes from the bolt-on actions. You can download widgets which connect Xobni with other services such as Dropbox, Evernote, Huddle, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a whole host more.
Want to send your contact an Evernote note? Click the note and it will compose an email (for you to check and edit) with the note attached. See your contacts last comments on twitter or facebook? They are right there. See your contacts linkedin profile and who they are connected to? Not a problem. What about sharing a large file – click the file in dropbox and the file is copied to your public dropbox area for you and a link is added to an email. There is even a ‘lets meet’ button which will compose an email to your contact with your free diary slots over the next few days.
Xobni is not perfect. If you stick to the FREE version, the really useful buttons (create a contact, update the contact information with this information, etc) produces a pop-up purchase window. It also takes up 1/6th of the screen in outlook. However, it provides a lot of useful information regarding your contacts. If you use outlook and are working on building relationships with clients, it’s a must-have.