EssentialPIM Reviews

about EssentialPIM · · Helpful Not helpful 2 Helpful

I Absolutely Love this Outstanding Program ! !

For MANY Years, I used a •To-Do, •Calendaring, •Notes Program that was remarkably similar to EssentialPIM ("EPIM") – but after heavy use, I have found EPIM to be MILES AHEAD of their competitors. This program is so EXTREMELY helpful, I only wish that there were ways for more people to Simply Know about it, because after you have used it awhile, you will NEVER want to be without it!
• EPIM handles ALL of my Tasks & To-Do's ensuring that NOTHING "falls thru the cracks".
• EPIM masterfully handles my Calendar, faithfully reminding me of ALL appointments.
• EPIM is a Truly Great WRITING Program competing with the Very Best dedicated writing & authoring programs. (Its Writing Module has a Tree-Based Organization Scheme, so that all of your projects are perfectly organizable.)
• EPIM allows you to Hyperlink your Notes Across All of its Modules, in addition to Linking your External Files & Webpages.
• EPIM supports Tagging throughout the program; & includes a Universal Advanced Search Feature. It includes a Recycle Bin (of course), so you never need worry about accidentally deleting items.
• EPIM Encrypts your Databases {Your Choice of Algorithm, E.g.: 256-Bit Twofish}, So it is perfectly suitable for including your highly Sensitive data. Your Databases are automatically Saved and Backed up in real time to ensure that you never lose any info.
• EPIM synchronizes its data with your smartphone And with your online Storage (E.g. Dropbox).

• Well, Frankly, I could easily just continue ON & ON – Telling you How AWESOME this program is, but Hey! it includes a Free Trial & is Very Lite on your System so it is truly a No-Brainer for you to Check It Out for yourself! Although I should add this one caveat:: EPIM is SO Comprehensive & Capable, Do give it a few days to Totally ADDICT you with its irresistible MAGIC!
__ HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! __
– Chuck Colsch

P.S.: My Comments apply in Particular to the "Pro" version – which I HIGHLY recommend!! They do, however, also offer a very capable free version, which omits some Great Features ---> Features ONLY in "Pro" Version include:: •Hyperlink your notes Across Modules •Global Search •Database Encryption & •Post Sticky-Notes on your Desktop. In Short: Getting the Pro Version is Abundantly worth the cost!

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EPIM for Writing

about EssentialPIM · · Helpful Not helpful 1 Helpful

I'm going to be reviewing EPIM pro as a pure hierarchy writing, note taking, outliner...etc program exclusively this go around.

Due to EPIM's modeler nature it is well suited for stripping down and using portable copies of it for just the modules you want.

First thing we are going to do then is disable everything else other then the Note Module & Trash since it is quite useful in this case.
Main Menu > Options > Modules > uncheck everything but Notes & Trash.

Now because a clean UI is very nice when writing I am going to hide the now fairly useless navigation pane:

Main Menu > View > un-mark "Navigation Pane"

Due to the way EPIM was designed once setup this way you are not exposed to hardly any options or features that are not relevant to what we are doing.

Now that we are setup and ready to go for the review we can get into the good stuff what dose EPIM offer as a hierarchy writing program?

**What EPIM has to offer: **

  • Clean, Colorful modern interface. (Could use more contrast in some areas, but is other wise quite nice.)

  • As you type spell checking.

  • Standard full spell checking. (Main menu > Tools > Check spelling)

  • Breadcrumb / history. (with back/froward support)

  • Basic Find/Replace.

  • Quick search.

  • Word count.

  • Character count with and without spaces.

  • Tree item count.

  • Advanced search (Search tags, attachments, title, body, & created/modified date ranges.)

  • Basic formatting tools. (Font family, Font size/color/background color, Bold, Italic, Underline, Strike, Sub, Sup, Align left/right/center/justify, Dot list, Number list, Indent options, Horizontal line.)

  • Note title formatting. (Bold, Italic, Underline, font color.)

  • Advanced formatting includes:

    • Table styles.
    • Check box lists.
    • Time stamp insert. (Time stamp format can be customized.)
    • Embedded images.
    • Ctrl+Click-able links.
    • Auto hyper-linking for many types of links.
    • Copy formatting tool.
    • Customization formatting presets.
  • Built in large range character map.

  • Attach and store files directly in the database or Link to them on your file system.

  • Note Icons. (They can be turned off as well.)

  • Read-Only that can be set independently for all notes and leafs.

  • Ability to Hide private items.

  • Auto save. (Customizable from 1-120 minutes)

  • Auto save on minimize.

  • Any note can be made into an edible desktop sticky note.

    • Sticky notes have auto hyper linking which can then be opened in your default browser with Ctrl+click.
    • Sticky notes can be set to stay on top of other windows.
    • Sticky notes can have user set transparency (0,20,40,60,80%) and color.
  • Database backups. (Customizable backup location, max number of backups from 1-100 and how often a backup is made from 1-240 hours.)

  • Multiple Note leafs (Great to store reversions, drafts, sub-notes...etc. Maximum number depends on screen real estate you are willing to sacrifice.)

  • Relative links.

    • Fast relative link with auto complete using @NoteToLinkName.
    • Can copy many selected notes as relative links and past them into notes for things as fast relative linking and ToC building.
  • Pop-up editor which allows you to have many notes open at one time. Be sure to read my warning below.

  • Customizable Shortcut keys for tree management.

  • Trash (Can be set to clean on exit, after 1-1,000 days, manually, or disabled all together.)

  • Dropbox support.

  • Syncing support. (Google, Owncloud, Android, iOS...)

  • Can optionally disable sync of private/hidden items.

  • Remembers scroll position on notes. (relative to last courser location.)

  • Option to minimize to system tray.

  • Option to minimize when closed.

  • Option to run at startup.

  • 31 supported languages.

  • Large database support (upper limits not know to me, I have tested it up to 10GB.)

  • Large note support (upper limits not know I have tested it up to 663,717 words.)

  • Lifetime license available

  • Portable

  • Works on Linux under wine.

  • Multiple database support with their own settings.

  • Relatively low system resources (I've yet to see it go over 250MB of ram and it usually averages 54~90MB, however be aware it can be very hard drive demanding and a large database may run into issue on slow mechanical drives. I have never ran into lag or issues myself however I have only used it on SSDs.)

  • [Pro] Encryption options. (AES,Blowfish, Twofish, DES)

  • [Pro] Password protection options. (Including the option to require a password on window restore.)

  • [Pro] Tags

    • In note tagging using #tagname.
    • Can globally edit or delete tag names.
    • Can add & edit tags on many selected notes at one time.
  • [Pro] Multiple note tree tabs. (Maximum number depends on screen real estate you are willing to sacrifice.)

Now that you know all the great features you'll have at your disposal lets talk about the limitations and cons as this is the major things people want to know it's what we are going to dive the deepest into:

No theming / Native windows styling only:
If you are coming from a highly theme-able editor and loved how much you could change the UI colors to match your dreams, the first thing you are going to notice is that EPIM has pretty much no built-in theming.
One of the major reasons I still use Windows 7 on my workstation and plan to stick to it for a very long time is due to the lack of windows classic theme in 8/10 which is what gives me the power to have many of my best workhorse programs colored to my eyes liking to minimize fatigue. I've tried windows 8/10 many times and eye fatigue goes up dramatically. largely I believe this Microsofts problem more then anything and highly encourage anyone who values UI color customization to add your voices to the call to do so towards Microsoft.

Tags don't really do much:
If you are coming from a wiki-outliner one of the biggest things you may notice is that tags really don't do much of anything but give you something to use in advanced search.

They do work for quick search, but EPIM will not show you the content of the note requiring extra steps (cleaning the quick search field) which makes it quite a lot less convenient then just using advance search.

Tags are not used in relative items, nor is their a quick way to see a list of all other items tagged with the tags on a given note, there is no tag cloud...etc

At this point they really are limited in true usefulness to advanced searching.

Tags are limited to the main note, therefore leafs can not have their own tags.

Exporting options are limited:
This may be one of the most damaging aspects to EPIM as a whole as it creates a dangerous "locked into the system" feeling, well also interfering greatly with final usage and publishing of data.

You can not export more then one note at a time unless they are merged together. Unlike most programs that allow you to export each note as it's own document you are forced to either export items one at a time or all merged together as one big file. Even worse is the big merged .html file exports are rather ill thought out, and lacking any form of customization largely making them unsuitable for any form of direct web publishing.

You can not export attached files with notes they most be saved manually.

You can export in the follow formats with the follow major limitations that could be fixed with each format:
.txt

  • Horizontal rules are removed rather then converted to text equivalent.
  • Tables are flattened rather then converted to a quality text equivalent.
  • Check boxes are removed rather then converted to their text equivalent.
  • Sup and Sub are converted to normal text and numbers rather then to their text equivalent.

.rtf

  • Embedded images are removed.
  • horizontal rules are removed.
  • Check boxes are file// links that will error out.
  • Internal links become file path links as well which will error out and leak your file structure information.
  • Most table color formating is lost, rather then converted to something that works.

.html

  • Dose not save text color or background color formating.
  • Dose not save font family.
  • Dose not save table color formating.
  • Check boxes are file// links that will error out.
  • Internal links become file path links as well which will error out and leak your file structure information.

.docx

  • Check boxes are file// links that will error out.
  • Internal links become file path links as well which will error out and leak your file structure information.

Special note (which makes the export limitations above much worse):
Copy/past into EPIM works quite well carrying over a lot of formatting.
However copy/pasting formatting out of EPIM dose not work quite as well, and many times will simply not work.

Undo history is cleared upon note change:
If you change notes you will loss your undo history, which can be very dangerous.

Such as if you need to see another note in a pop-up editor so you right click it and hit edit. You get your pop-up window but it also changed the main view to that note which subsequently just cleared your history...

If you need to reference something on your previous note and hit back read what you wanted hit froward, there goes your undo history...

Need to look at the title of a note on another tree, when you switch trees your note changes costing you your undo history.

Need to check something on a leaf, guess what you are going to loss? That's right your undo history!

If you rely on undo much at all and are prone to moving around documents you are very likely to wind up in a bad place at some point or another.

Internal links only open to a pop-up editor:
Internal links usefulness is limited by the fact you can only open then in the pop-up editor and not actually go to them in the main interface.

Internal links can only link to the main note, therefore you can not link to a note leaf other then the first leaf.

Pop-up edit windows are not auto-saved:
It is advisable to do very little work in the pop-up editor as it's content is not automatically saved.

Which is greatly unfortunate as you may be tempted to work in them due to them having their own unique undo history.

Sticky note limitations to be aware of:

  • No context menu copy/past
  • No undo
  • No Markdown or like support which means no formating unless you open the note in EPIM.
  • No grouping
  • No auto-resize on drag and drop of images to be embed.
  • No way to attach files without opening the note in EPIM.

I put Sticky notes and Pop-up editor beside each other so I could add a special note:
Pop-up editors do not ever save until you close them. (Via OK with no prompt or via the [x] with save warning.)
Sticky notes however saves data anytime they loss focus. However be warned that like pop-up editors they do not auto save well you are working so if something happens a crash power failure, accidentally hitting alt+f4...etc what you were working on will be lost.

Note Icons limitations to be aware of:
They are awesome as a writing organization tool!
Unfortunately EPIM falls a bit short in its execution in this otherwise very handy feature.

  • Note Icons can not be re-organized so you'll need to be very careful in the order you add new icons.
  • The built-in Icon set is very limited for creative writing, and you will need to import a lot of icons to make it feel truly worthwhile. (This is a very minor point since nearly no program comes with decent built in note icons for creative writing, therefore you are well served to have your own collection on hand no matter what you choice to work with.)
  • Icons are not dynamic in anyway
  • You can not set a default icon. You will have the last icon used set for the next note created.
  • You can only change one note icon at a time, there is no way to change a set of icons all at once.

Major tree limitations to be aware of:

  • No flags/markers. (Yes you have icons but often you don't want to change the icon of the note you are working on you just want to flag/star/mark it temporarily.)

Major editor/viewer limitations to be aware of:

  • No line numbers.
  • No line count.
  • No margins. (Can make printing difficult)
  • No code blocks.
  • No code highlighting.
  • No plug-in or scripting support of any kind.
  • No table sorting support.
  • No embed image auto-resizing to fit window/document.
  • No embed static gif support.
  • No embed animated gif support.
  • No dual-pane support.
  • No list sorting options.
  • No list sub item formatting.
  • No case matching in find/replace.
  • No whole word matching in find/replace.
  • No wild card find/replace.
  • No regex find/replace.
  • No previous button (or search up option) in find.
  • No list styling options.
  • No source view.
  • No anchor links.
  • No leaf linking support. (can only link to main note)
  • No way to see the created or modified dates for a note outside of advanced search or relative items.
  • No search function or categories in character map insert panel can make it tricky to find what you want.
  • No custom data fields.
  • No built in header presets. (You can add them yourself as custom format presets.)
  • No markdown or like support.
  • No auto ToC based on headers.
  • No hand writing or drawing support.
  • No spreadsheet support

Minor editor/viewer limitations to be aware of:

  • No SVG support.
  • No embedded audio or video support.
  • No zoom.

Major attachment limitations to be aware of:

  • No thumbnails/previews of any kind.
  • Can not be exported with note.
  • Can not rename attachments without saving them and reattaching them.
  • You can not link an attachment with more then one note. Making it so you either have to attach more then one copy or resort to using a file system link.

Advanced search limitations to be aware of:

  • Results do not indicate which leaf your search was found on.
  • No preview of where the search text was found.
  • No word count column
  • No way to add custom columns

Relative link limitations to be aware of:

  • They are limited to direct linking only with no inherency/webbing.

**Conclusion and personal thoughts: **

Purely as a hierarchy writing tool EPIM Pro makes a great personal dairy, log, journal...etc thou it's still missing a few features that would make it a much better all around dairy/journal.

Purely as a hierarchy writing tool EPIM is a solid recommendation for basic to advanced creative writing. It has many great features to keep your writing well organized, and fairly safe (as long as you avoid working in the pop-up editor.) though it falls short in many time saving aspects, and can get in your way when it comes time to publish your work.

Purely as a hierarchy writing tool EPIM falls uncomfortably short of being a great information database. Most of its value in this department comes from it's other modules. Version 7x has seen many improvements to the note module over the last year so there is quite a lot of hope for the future. For now however if you are not interested in the Mail, Tasks, Contact or Calendar modules as well EPIM Pro is not well suited to be a great value as an advanced information database on the same level as some other hierarchy writing programs.

EPIM is a tough recommendation for advanced creative writing, technical writing, advanced educational settings, and business document management. Well it has many great tools it falls short in many of the worst places in these areas. It is worth noting that upgrading to the "business" version dose not help this rating much at all. Well the "network" functionally helps around the office it dose not make up for the shortcomings in sharing information outside of the office.

Overall I think EPIM as a hierarchy writing tool is worth trying for a number of types of people, especially those looking for a slightly above minimal set of tools and good dose of data safety. However for the majority of users you will likely find better suited options for your needs as of now. Well EPIM has the potential to become one of the best hierarchy writing tools on the market it still has a ways to go.

I realize this review may come off as being on the negative side however let me make it clear that EPIM has become one of my favorite and most used writing tools despite it's limitations. Though it is funny as in the beginning my only interest in EPIM was it's email module; Which serves my needs quite well. It was only after using it for email for a while that I started using it for little notes here and there related to emails. Then slowly over time I found myself using it for a large variety of different things and quite enjoying myself most of the time.

Many of the listed issues above are minor and are listed only because they could be major deal breakers for some use cases, which is the point of this review; To help you figure out if EPIM will fit your work flow well and is worth your time to investigate.

[Edited by ChaosDrop, December 04]

Wow! Thank you for that, ChaosDrop! Very Helpful Indeed !
I am a Great Admirer of EPIM & have sent them my glowing review.
The only part of your review about which I take a Very Different View:: While I DO Greatly Value EPIM's outstanding "Notes" Module, its facility
in handling my •Tasks & •Calendar are SO Very Outstanding that it makes it hard to understand your comment about Disabling Non-Notes
Modules!! {{The Only Modules that I've personally found to not be that helpful are •Mail •Contacts •Passwords – since I already have
dedicated, powerful Programs for those few items }}; But I have found EPIM's •Tasks •Calendar & • Notes Modules to ALL be Simply Marvelous ––
And I've not found the existence of these other Modules to interfere in any way with my use of the Notes Module; But Quite to the Contrary:
Tasks & Calendar actually Further the Benefits of the Notes Module since All of the Modules can Hyperlink individual notes among each other.
Thank you again for your excellent review of this Outstanding & Essential Software, EssentialPIM !!
Chuck

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