Interview with the developer of ‘PrintableCal!’– Dan Chartrand
By: Mike Milhouse
From time to time we select a software we like and interview the developer or team behind it. It allows our users to grasp the qualities of the software and the developer/team. Please welcome Dan Chartrand who will talk about PrintableCal!
What is your title/job description?
How did you come to creating this software?
The inspiration for PrintableCal came largely as the result of feedback from users of VueMinder, which is another of our products. VueMinder is a full-featured calendar and reminder application that also provides a variety of built-in printable templates and styles.
One of the features that VueMinder users often requested was the ability to customize printouts with headers, footers, company logos, different colors, fonts, and so forth. Providing that level of customization in a standalone program like VueMinder is a daunting task - which got us thinking... What if we could use all the editing power and flexibility of Microsoft Office, and extend Excel and Word to support automatically generating printable calendars?
There are plenty of empty Excel and Word calendar templates that can be downloaded, but those all require the user to re-enter their schedule in the template. Many people prefer to maintain their schedule elsewhere, such as in Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, Outlook, VueMinder, etc... This was the birth of our idea for PrintableCal - provide calendar templates in a wide variety of formats that users can tweak to their heart's content, but also support automatically importing schedule data from almost any other source. When a calendar is generated using PrintableCal, the imported data will populate the printable template, allowing the user to avoid having to painstakingly re-enter their schedule every time they need to print a calendar.
For example, let's say you keep your schedule in Google Calendar. Even in a paperless society, you occasionally you need to print your schedule. However, if you're like many users, you dislike the very limited printing options provided by the Google Calendar webpage. The event text doesn't wrap and there's a limit to how many events can fit in a date before being cut off.
Now enter PrintableCal. With PrintableCal, you can add your Google Calendar to the list of calendar sources and then print your schedule using one of the many templates included with PrintableCal, or using your own customized template. Your events defined in Google Calendar will download and appear in the generated calendar, complete with word-wrapping and variable date heights (based on how many events are defined). For calendar printing geeks, this is nirvana.
What are the key benefits of the software compare with alternatives?
The only other program we've found that comes close to doing what PrintableCal can do is WinCalendar. However, PrintableCal provides a number of key features missing from WinCalendar.
- PrintableCal supports user-customizable templates. Add your own logo, pictures, colors, etc. Save the template and re-use it again and again. Templates can also be easily exported or imported, so you can share your templates with other people.
- PrintableCal Ultimate supports importing data from an unlimited number of data sources when generating a calendar. WinCalendar's most expensive version is limited to 10 data sources.
- PrintableCal Ultimate can import data directly from Exchange Server, which is not something WinCalendar can do.
- PrintableCal comes in Basic, Standard, Premium, and Ultimate versions. You can pick the version that best fits your current requirements. If you later find you need to upgrade, you can simply pay the cost of the difference for a better version. WinCalendar does not offer upgrades between versions, so you'd have to shell out for a whole new license.
- PrintableCal's user interface is sleek and polished. Everything is accessed in a side taskbar of Excel or Word, intuitively laid out in a step-by-step fashion. WinCalendar's user interface looks a bit dated, and isn't as nicely integrated into Excel and Word.
Where do you see the software 2 years from now?
As we've done with VueMinder, we plan to continue improving PrintableCal - mostly based on the suggestions of our customers, whom we work closely with. We've found that people using the software have great ideas on how things could be made even better. It's a bit of an art to pick the best ideas and implement those in a timely fashion, but that's something we've had a lot of practice with in VueMinder.
Specifically, we plan to improve PrintableCal to support for more template styles and more calendar data sources. We're also planning to update PrintableCal for compatibility with the next version of Microsoft Office, which is rumored to be released later in 2014 or early 2015.
Thanks a lot Dan!