Personal Information Manager

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Personal Information Manager, or PIM is a software database specifically designed to collect, organise and store information that relates to people's day to day business. That may for instance include calendar information such as appointments, dates and birthdays, personal information such as contact and bank details of friends, relatives, business associates and customers, and personal financial information such as tracking of expenses and receipts. Depending on its intended target market, a PIM may include other features such as better financial features more akin to those seen on personal finance managers, note taking and sorting capabilities, stronger planning features reminiscent of project planning software or collaborative features, and there have also been products on the market that were hybrids of outliners and PIM's.

The PIM as a development tool

Some PIM's have strong development features, especially those intended for business use and many of those are left in more or less a useless state after initial install, i.e. they need some custom setup and or programming which makes them more like specialised relational database system than an end user tool. There is in fact mostly a perceptual difference between a PIM and a "Contact Managers", "Customer Database Managers" or "Sales databases", they can all be classified as PIM's of a sort, with the main difference being that in addition to stronger programming features the business tools have better collaborative features and usually either connect to a specialised server or have peer-to-peer capabilities or even both.

This makes sense in a business setting, Salesman A may have to take over the tasks that Salesman B was working on yesterday and therefore needs to be able to access his notes, contact details and plans and the manager of both may need to do the same for evaluation reasons. The collaborative aspect of modern business PIM's is so strong that when IBM discontinued their Lotus Organizer offering, the alternative they recommended to customers offered was actually the collaborative package Lotus Notes and not another PIM package.

Not all PIM's are fully programmable, the best known pure example of the genre in the form of Lotus Organizer had a very limited API, and while it had a collaborative interface of sorts, that was a bit iffy and therefore the package was really only used as personal tool.

OS/2 PIM software packages

  • 1Soft Active Life (aka TimeStar) - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Arcadia Workplace Companion - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Borland Sidekick - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Contact Connection - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Lotus Agenda (Version 1) - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Lotus Organizer - Discontinued - Was sold as both part of Lotus SmartSuite and on its own. - Very limited programmability and API.
  • Mozilla Calendar - Add on package for Thunderbird - Discontinued - Still available for download but functionality has been moved into Mozilla Lightning.
  • Mozilla Lightning - Add on package for Thunderbird or Seamonkey
  • Mozilla Spicebird - Add on package for Thunderbird - Discontinued - Still available for download but functionality has been moved into Mozilla Lightning.
  • Mozilla Sunbird - Discontinued - Still available for download but functionality has been moved into Mozilla Lightning.
  • OmniFile - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Polaris Packrat - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Relish - Commercial - Discontinued

DOS PIM software packages

  • Lotus Agenda - Discontinued - Now freeware
  • Polaris Packrat - Commercial - Discontinued
  • Scraps (Raymond Lowe) - Discontinued

WinOS/2 PIM software packages

  • ACT! - Discontinued - Still developed as a Windows 32 package.
  • ECCO Pro - Discontinued - Now freeware
  • Lotus Organizer - Discontinued - Was sold as both part of Lotus SmartSuite and on its own. - Very limited programmability and API.
  • Polaris Packrat - Commercial - Discontinued

Java PIM software packages

Java has a well developed PIM API which means that it is more common to see PIM features integrated into in Java business software than it is to see PIM packages based on Java itself.