Rick Rawson on: Why I use Chandler and what would make me stop.

May 21st, 2008 by Mimi Yin

Rick Rawson wrote into the Users List a few months back the good and the bad in Chandler. (Bold and large type, mine.)

“As course director for a very large (16 credits) course in a professional program, I have a need to be able to coordinate and collaborate with a number of colleagues to prepare for and implement this course, which is logistically complicated. I have investigated a number of software solutions to no avail. These include:

  • Airset
  • Remember The Milk
  • Spicebird
  • ZOHO (project)
  • Google calendar
  • Thinking Rock
  • Code Project
  • Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning
  • Abstract Spoon’s ToDo List
  • Open source project managers

“I have tried each one, but none worked because, depending on the application, the web interface was too limiting, integration of various components was insufficient, required components were missing (task list with no calendar), collaboration was not available, or the software had too long of a learning curve. Project managers are simply the wrong solution.

“I stumbled across Chandler and was instantly enthusiastic. Being a bit of a geek, I went with the flow when I discovered that cut/copy/paste and print did not work. Go figure! OK, I’ll work with it.

“The desktop app is clean, slick, easy to use, easy to learn. Very short learning curve. Screen real-estate is used effectively. No other application puts collection lists, the calendar, and a detail view all on the same screen. I can see what I need to see, all in one place. In my opinion, having to click a button to access information is a virtual brick wall. Chandler avoids this for the most part.”

The following screenshot was taken from the Chandler Product Tour:
All in one place.

“Multiple, overlaying calendars is extremely useful. That the underlying calendar color fades is more-than-a-cool feature not found in the likes of Google calendar. It was a bonus to discover that I could copy an event to a second calendar and retain the freedom to delete one of those copies without deleting both. Putting “location” in the event on the calendar would be nice, but not essential.

“The completely seamless connection between messages, tasks, and events is unique in my experience. It frees me from having to think ahead. I can brainstorm lists of tasks, then go back and stick them on a calendar, moving them around as needed. I am not aware of another application that does this. Ability to create “projects” with tasks and subtasks would be nice but its absence is not a showstopper. Inability to do a secondary sort on the triage table reduces my productivity significantly, but it’s not enough to make me quit using Chandler…yet.

The existence of Chandler Hub and the provision for easy sharing of collections is an essential feature. For my situation, any software solution must include the ability to collaborate effectively and remotely.”

So what is Rick’s biggest peeve? Performance.

“I’m using Chandler to increase my productivity, but that won’t happen if I’m stuck waiting for Chandler to respond to a mouse click. I simply don’t have time to waste and, as much as I love Chandler, will eventually switch applications rather than see my productivity tank.”

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7 Responses to “Rick Rawson on: Why I use Chandler and what would make me stop.”

  1. Mimi Yin Says:

    To Rick’s point, performance as an important problem we need to continuously address. The performance issues users have run into vary from platform to platform and certainly, Chandler fairs better on newer, more powerful computers and worse on older ones. What would help us the most are reports from users on exactly which user actions are slow.

    User actions that have been most frequently reported as slow include:

    - Switching collections
    - First time launch
    - Quitting
    - Purging obsolete data

  2. Alex Kavanagh Says:

    I think it is simply too big. It uses 504MB of RAM, 175MB resident, on my system. I had to upgrade my laptop to 2GB RAM to make it work responsively, otherwise it was always hitting the swap to get its code back into memory. This made it almost unusable. Why is it so big? Otherwise it’s great although it would be useful if the side panel notes section had formatting options.

  3. Grant Baillie Says:

    Alex, you’re right that VM usage is a big factor, although there are cases where the CPU is doing too much, too. So far as why this is, there are many contributions. The biggest one is that architectural decisions taken early on in the project meant that way too much data is being persisted. For example, the app persists all schema and GUI layout information, leading to on-disk and mapped memory bloat. (There is also redundancy in the data stored on disk that leads to more of this kind of bloat).

    In any event, we are aware of these issues and are working actively on addressing them post-1.0. At the moment, Phillip Eby is doing a bunch of infrastructure work in this area: See

    http://lists.osafoundation.org/pipermail/chandler-dev/2008-February/009667.html

    for an outline of the plan. Specific and detailed technical information of his work can be found on the PEAK mailing list at:

    http://www.eby-sarna.com/pipermail/peak/

  4. Nate the Great Says:

    Is anyone else seeing Chandler consume 500 MB of RAM? It’s only doing a little over 100 on my machine (according to Task Manager). 500 MB would be ridiculous, but I can live with 100.

    Is it possible that having a large number of tasks/emails makes it bigger/slower?

  5. Mimi Yin Says:

    Hi Nate,

    Yes, having a lot of data can make Chandler slower. We have been discussing a number of short-term solutions to address this problem sooner rather than later on the Chandler Development list: http://lists.osafoundation.org/pipermail/chandler-dev/2008-July/010108.html

    1 has already been implemented and will be coming out in the next release: https://bugzilla.osafoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=12234

    Other users have also reported that Chandler gets bigger if you leave it open for long periods of time (multiple days?) So quitting and restarting may help as well.

    Best,
    Mimi

  6. David K. Says:

    Although I have not delved into Chandler code, it seems that part of the problem is architectural in nature. E.g. Python libraries, too much virtualization, object-caching, and platform-independence.

    In the superconducting nanocomputers of the far-future, such elegant technologies might be fine. However, most of us with even modern hardware would benefit from a little more performance optimization.

    For example, there seems to be a large OSX community. How about rewriting the app using the high-quality object-oriented GUI frameworks that exist for OSX? If you want to abstract some “business logic” above this, fine, but GUI implementation is, IMHO, too platform-dependent anyway.

    From my personal experience, there is a lot of emphasis on generality and abstraction, but few frameworks provide the level of performance and robustness that allows this to work in “consumer” deployments. I mean, really, who wants to have their end-users see a Smalltalk stack dump? :)

    My 2 cents. I love this project and want to see it fly, and show off its design merits. Not bog and dump due to implementation choices…

  7. paulo Says:

    at the moment chandler is just using below 2 mb. python is using almost 100 mb.
    I do have 4 gb of ram so it is not an issue.