Posts from August 2006.

How Does the ClearContext Prioritization Engine Work?

Nam has posted a nice short review of ClearContext on his blog, The way of the geek.  In it he talks a bit about our prioritization algorithm:

“How does it do the prioritziation of your mails you say? I don’t know the exact algorithm, but it learns over a period of time which people you deal with most frequently and places those at the top of your inbox. You can also manually set the priority of your contacts, so that people that you don’t hear from frequently, but are important, will still get placed near the top. Whether you are in the to or cc line will also affect the prioritization. In short, most of the stuff that needs your attention will get put at the top.”

This is fairly accurate.  If you’re looking for a detailed description of how our prioritization algorithm works, check out our design whitepaper, Designing a More Effective Inbox.  This thing is a little dated (check out that makehift logo!) but the core principles behind our prioritization algorithm haven’t changed.

HanselMinutes Review of Outlook Add-ins

Scott Hanselman’s 30th podcast, A Better Outlook, gives a no-nonsense review of several add-ins to help tame Outlook, including Speedfiler, Taglocity, ClearContext IMS Pro and the GTD Outlook Add-in.  His review of ClearContext starts at about the 16 minute mark, saying we put Outlook “on steroids.”  Take a listen for Scott’s thorough take on Outlook productivity.

As an aside, Scott recently posted his 2006 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows.  If you’re a tools freak like me, there are some really interesting finds on the list.  Take a look.

GTD Software Systems Review

Jason Clarke at Download Squad has posted the first of a two part series on GTD Software Systems, focusing on offline Windows solutions.  He starts with a nice overview of GTD concepts and delves into a detailed reviews of both the Netcentrics GTD Add-in and ClearContext.  For obvious reasons, I’m partial to this quote:

“…let me say that if you ever struggle with keeping up with your email and you are an Outlook user, it is definitely worth your while to investigate ClearContext further. The prioritization engine and inbox views are pure gold.”

For those of you looking for other ways that our customers use ClearContext to implement their personal flavor of the popular productivity system, see this post in our user forums.

I’m anxious to read Part II tomorrow, which promises to be focused on online GTD-type solutions.  There’s a lot of new stuff out there and I’m certain that Jason has given them all a thorough try.

On a tangential note, Jason’s post inspired Deva to write about how he manages email.  Check out if you’re interested in how he slogs through the 100-200 messages he receives a day.

ClearContext v3 is Coming…

It comes as no surprise that many of our users are early adopters.  Since our last product plan update, we’ve received numerous requests to accelerate implementation of support for Outlook 2007 from many of you who have already taken the plunge with the latest Office 2007 beta.

With that in mind, we are very pleased to tell you about our upcoming ClearContext IMS Pro v3 release.  With this release, in addition to the Office 2007 support, we have taken some important steps towards our big picture goal of making ClearContext a full fledged personal assistant to efficiently manage your email activities.  More on that in an upcoming post – for now, we’re going to focus on some of the specific functionality we’re implementing in this release.  We are entering the test cycle now and will have an open beta of the product this quarter.  Here’s some of what’s in store:


Office 2007 Support (Preview Screen Shots are Located Here)

  • Ribbon Support
  • Quick Defer options from the Ribbon (1h, 1d, 2d, etc…)
  • Integrated RelatedView in preview pane and open items
  • SharePoint Sharing – file topics directly to your SharePoint discussions
  • 2007 related performance enhancements, including elimination of slowness when filing

Additional Key v3 Enhancements

  • Topic Assignment & Filing Enhancements – brand new UI for quick filing (especially useful for large folder hierarchies) and automated reminders to set topics and file outgoing messages
  • Unsubscribe from a Conversation – "unsubscribe" from message conversation threads so future messages are automatically moved out of your Inbox
  • Manual Message Prioritization – manually set message color and priority order in the Inbox
  • MessageMetrics – full integration with an exciting new add-on product for measuring and reporting on your email usage statistics (we’ll have a detailed post on this product in the next few weeks)
  • Total Workday Control – we continue to expand our support of Michael Linenbergers TWC system.  See our partner page for more detail.

The initial release will come in two flavors:

  • ClearContext IMS Pro – contains all of the features in v2 and all of the new features above
  • ClearContext IMS Personal – this completely free version of our product will focus on inbox prioritization and management including a subset of the new v3 functionality

Beyond v3.0

After the release of v1 and v2 we jumped straight into working on major new upgrades of the product.  While we once again have a bunch of big new ideas on the drawing board, we’re holding off on the revolutionary stuff immediately following v3 release to first focus our efforts on two key areas that a large group of our customers have requested.

The first focus area is a set of incremental features we have discussed in previous posts, including:

  • Context Menu (Right Click) Integration (2007 Only)
  • Domain/Address Resolution Improvements for Exchange Users
  • AutoAssign functionality integrated with Outlook Rules
  • Import/Export of ClearContext Settings (in the meantime, see here)
  • Advanced AutoAssign Rule Management UI
  • Custom Forms Support
  • Prioritization in Other Folders

 The second focus area will be geared towards our corporate customers.  Tentatively, this will include the following enhancements:

  • Advanced Contact Management Capabilities – including Smart Topic Assignment and Contact RelatedView
  • Multiple machine support – “Master/Slave” mode
  • Topic/Priority sharing in groups
  • Enhanced capabilities for Sharing/Collaboration with SharePoint
  • Enhanced support for mobile/PDA customers

We’ll have a more detailed post about this after the initial v3 beta release.

Pricing is TBD on all of these products (except for IMS Personal, which will be absolutely free).  We will provide some opportunities for registered v2 users to obtain an upgrade to v3 free of charge.  Watch your email for more information soon.  As of August 1st, every person who purchases IMS Pro v2 will automatically receive a complimentary upgrade to IMS Pro v3.

As always, we welcome any feedback you have on our plans.  You can post feedback in our forums, on the weblog, or send us a note at info ( at ) clearcontext dot com. Watch this weblog for updates on our testing progress and the opportunity to try out a beta of v3.