BusyContacts and academic networking

Three months ago, I started using beta-version of BusyContacts, which a reader suggested in a comment to the post on organising academic contacts. Last week this software (developed by the maker of my favorite BusyCal) released the first official version. I have really enjoyed BusyContacts, which not only can replace Apple’s Contacts but can even compete with large CRMs such as Daylite.

BusyContacts has many indispensable features,  e.g. customisable fields, colour-coded tags, and displaying email correspondence with a particular contact. The Tags work much smoother than Groups in Contacts because (a) you can add them while editing a card without reaching your mouse and (b) each card shows all its Tags (have you ever wondered to which Groups your particular contact card belongs?).

I have already used BusyContacts to organise a workshop and to map academic disciplines in an emerging network. Recently I disseminated a newly published article using BusyContacts. I first assigned a special tag to all the people I wanted to send the article. Then I generated emails for every contact with that tag directly from BusyContacts. Subsequently, I used TextExpander to write all these emails. With its custom fields TextExpander let me personalise each message and to include or exclude optional parts (e.g. that I cited that particular scholar in this paper) while providing standard information about the publication. The tag in BusyContacts will help me to always know whether a particular person has received a copy of that particular paper. (I can of course also directly see it through the correspondence that BusyContacts automatically displays).

BusyMac support has been extremely helpful during my testing of the software. I am sure it will develop much further and have a lot of helpful features. My three most important wishes for future versions would be:

  • Import capability (from *.csv, Excel, Numbers etc.);
  • Bulk editing;
  • Ability to organise contacts hierarchically (through tags or otherwise).

About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He researchers energy and environment and coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
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12 Responses to BusyContacts and academic networking

  1. Frank Trott says:

    Professor Cherp,

    I came across your website a few weeks ago via the post “Essential software for academic work on a Mac”. Since, I have been using many of the Apps you and other posters suggested- Alfred, Quickcal, Atext, Text Expander, nvALT with Simplenote, Bookends and others. Just wanted to throw a big thanks to you. That post dramatically changed(improved) the way I organize, write, research, document…. well, you get the picture. Thanks so very much. Keep up the great work. Your site is marvelous and I wish I would have found it earlier. I’ll be checking out BusyContacts asap.

    best wishes,

    Frank

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  2. art2science says:

    Based on your recommendation, I tried Daylite. I did not get far enough in the 30 day trial to justify making the purchase, or the overhead associated with such an elaborate program. Instead, I’ve used Cobook but will take a look at BusyContacts.
    I also want to thank you for these columns. They have been very useful for advancing my thinking about managing work.

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  3. Aleh Cherp says:

    Thanks for the warm words. Perhaps you should indeed go for BusyContacts – much cheaper and very promising.

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  4. Dee says:

    I’ve also benefitted greatly from reading about how your organise your workflow. Thanks for sharing! Have also tried out busycal busycontacts from one of the comments in your organising contacts post. Am hoping that you will do a similar capturing / organising academic contacts post with busycontacts as you did with daylite. That would be extremely helpful! 🙂

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  5. Luc Beaulieu says:

    Even better, BusyContacts play very nice with DevonThink Pro Office and you can like specific group or element (and even multiple ones) to a specific BusyContacts entry. How to here:
    http://lucbeaulieu.com/2015/02/23/evonthink-pro-office-busycontacts-an-efficient-crm-solution-for-academia/

    Like

  6. Charles says:

    This was a very helpful review, and I agree that BusyContacts may hit a sweet spot between Apple’s Contacts and Daylite. I downloaded a trial copy and attempted to import a list of contacts in CSV format only to find that was not supported. (Import directly from Contacts or in vCard format are apparently the only two options.) Has anyone found a way to import a list of contacts that you already have (but don’t have in Contacts) into BusyContacts?

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    • Aleh Cherp says:

      Charles, import (and export) don’t work very well (to put it mildly) in BusyContacts. The development team promises that it’s on their roadmap. I use Apple Contacts for imports (i.e. I first import to Apple Contacts, then I go to Last Import group and tag them and then I work on them in BusyContacts). This does not allow importing custom fields. Moreover, working with imported contacts is difficult in absence of bulk edit feature in BusyContacts (another one that BusyMac promises to develop). Exporting is also problematic, especially because printing is, in principle, not supported. You can export to a *.vcf file, but I still do not know how to convert such a file into a format that can be printed (or pdf’ed or otherwise communicated to people who don’t have BusyContacts). Once again, custom fields are a problem, because there are decent converters for standard fields. But on the other hand with standard fields one can just export/print/pdf cards from Apple Contacts.

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      • Dr. Cherp – – Thanks for your reply on this. I thought of trying to import to Contacts and then linking or importing to BusyContacts, but as you point out I would lose (or have to enter by hand) several of my custom fields for hundreds of records. I was not aware of the lack of bulk editing in BusyContacts. I think I will wait to see what the BusyMac team is able to develop in these areas before seriously testing BusyContacts.

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