Kontact: How does it compare to the competition?
With all of this talk about KDE 4.5 lately, I thought I should take a moment to mention a tool that hasn't had much (or any) talk here on Ghacks.
That tool is Kontact. But what is Kontact?Â Kontact is the KDE groupware suite that includes more tools than your standard suite, has a lot of pluses, and a few minuses. But even with its minuses, Kontact is a spot-on tool for anyone needing a solid groupware suite to keep them as organized as possible.
In this article I will introduce you to Kontact and help you decide if it is ready to usurp your current tool.
If you are using KDE 4 you will likely have Kontact installed. To find out go click on Start > Applications > Office and see if it is listed. You might also notice that the constituent parts of Kontact are also listed. That is because you can start each component individually and not have to fire up the who shebang. But let's assume you do want to fire up the whole kit.
Here's what Kontact includes:
- Summary page: Shows the summary for everything you have upcoming.
- Mail: Your email client.
- Contacts: Your contacts.
- Calendar: Your personal calendar (integrates with the Akonadi server)
- To-do list: Your tasks.
- Feeds: RSS feeds.
- Journal: A personal journal
- Notebook: A simple note taking tool.
- Popup Notes: A reminder tool in the form of popup notes.
- Time tracker: Keep track of your time.
That's a lot of features compared to your standard groupware suite. But does it measure up? Just about any user (especially users reading Ghacks) can walk themselves through an application like this and figure out just how toÂ use it. What I want to do is take a look at the KEY components (Mail, Calendar, Contacts, To-do) and see how it stacks up to the competition. Where does it hit, and where does it miss.
The biggest miss here is a lack of Exchange support. GNOME's Evolution already has the ability to connect with multiple versions of Exchange. With Kontact I have found various solutions to this problem (most of which involve a shell script-type solution that no new user would want to try), but nothing built in. The only way you can connect to an Exchange server's email component in Kontact is if the Exchange server has IMAP support turned on.
On the plus side, Kontact's email cleint (Kmail) does have very nice integrated Anti-SPAM and Anti-Virus tools, each in the form of a simple wizard. You open this by clicking Tools > Anti-Spam Wizard or Tools > Anti-Virus Wizard.
Again, the biggest miss here is the lack of Exchange integration. But I have also found Kontact lacking a simple Google calendar plugin.The problem is, This is not to say that Kontact's calendar application isn't worth using. It is. If you are looking for a single-user calendar application that doesn't need to be easily shared, the Kontact Calendar is outstanding. But the minute you need to share that calendar, or add a Google or Exchange calendar, you will soon find the weaknesses of this tool.
The Calendar tool does have some unique features that might appeal to you. In particular are the Time Spent and Timeline views of the calendar. And , when in the Calendar application, you can choose to add new calendars and the list of possible calendars to add looks impressive. You can add from a Kolab server, OpenXchange server, GroupWise Server, local files, and more. But until Kontact has a simple solution for Exchange and Google, it's missing out.
There's not much you can do wrong with a to-do list. It simply a listing of what you need to do. Like most other to-do lists in groupware suites you can take an email and convert it into a task. And you can convert to do items into calendar items.
I was hoping to be able to start using Kontact when KDE 4.5 hit the streets. But truth be told, the lack of integration with critical tools leaves Kontact wanting...seriously wanting. Kontact has a long, long way to go before it is ready for anyone in a business environment. A single user? Sure...Kontact is a great tool for you to use. But the minute you need integration you're most likely going to have to return to Evolution.Advertisement