- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

It is estimated that between five million and six million people carry a Franklin Planner, the paper-based tool that lets you schedule your life, track your goals, keep up with contacts and so forth. Those users can be found in 82 of the Fortune 100 companies and dozens of government agencies and nonprofit groups, according to FranklinCovey, the firm behind the system.
After today, it's a mystery why anyone would want to continue with that.
FranklinCovey is releasing version 2.0 of its "TabletPlanner" software, a $170 program that incorporates all the features of the paper Planner plus links to Microsoft Outlook, and runs on a Tablet PC, allowing you to digitally "ink" entries and either index these or translate them into electronic text.
Put another way, who needs paper?
Think about it: Tablet PCs, the devices pioneered by Microsoft Corp., are now being sold by a number of hardware makers (Acer America, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett Packard and Toshiba among them). The devices feature a version of Microsoft Windows XP that allows for pen input using a special stylus and FranklinCovey is taking full advantage of this to create a digital version of its popular paper product.
While Tablet PCs aren't as thin as a legal pad, and weigh more than paper (having built-in wireless communications), they are still lighter than my paper Franklin Planner, yet can do a lot more. Besides running the TabletPlanner software, the devices also run the full range of Microsoft Windows applications and can work wirelessly in offices equipped with IEE 802.11b (and now 802.11g) networks.
The new TabletPlanner software, available today for purchase and download from www.tabletplanner.com, offers several advantages over the paper version. Like most daily planners it has a page for tasks and appointments, and one for notes. In the paper version, you'd need to add pages to add notes. The TabletPlanner software lets you have an almost endless supply of note pages for any day, limited only by your PC's hard-drive capacity. For those who use a day-planner as a journal of important items, this is a vital feature.
Equally valuable is the way the "daily task list" is handled by the software. Assign a priority to your task the most important is "A1," the least important "C3," let's say and you will see the software sort those tasks in order. Check one off the list, and a small line through it appears.
You can enter or edit contacts and appointments using your handwriting and have the system "read" and translate your entry into computer-usable text, which in turn can be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange-based systems. You can link an appointment to a contact or to-do item, and drag-and-drop a to-do into an appointment. The result: a more-concrete, easy-to-follow record of your daily work, one that's tracked electronically and can be backed up and stored on a CD-ROM.
Another advantage of the new software is ability to import, index, highlight and store a variety of documents, including Adobe PDF files, for use as part of your daily work.
Until now I've had to assemble my Franklin Planner with paper, ink and a seven-hole paper punch. What's more, it seems as if the "Monarch"-sized planner I prefer (8 by 11 inch page size) is slipping away from the FranklinCovey product lineup. But no matter: the Tablet PC's screen is just a tad smaller than letter-size, and one can print pages, if desired, on letter-sized paper.
There will probably be further enhancements to the software "sharpening the saw" is a FranklinCovey maxim. This application is not just a really useful tool; it also demonstrates why the Tablet PC has a bright future.

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