21 January 2016

Idealist and Windows 10: A word of warning

Some time ago I upgraded to Windows 10 and was relieved to discover that Idealist (my ancient and much loved database system) appeared to work OK. I even blogged about it (here). Sadly my relief was premature. I have recently discovered a serious problem with the operation of Idealist.

One of the great things about Idealist is the ability to create new record and field types on the fly in existing databases. I last needed to do this while I was still running Windows 7 and the system worked OK then. The other day I wanted to add a new record type to a membership database that I maintain in Idealist. Unfortunately the commands to do this no longer work. I can define a new record type but I can’t populate it with existing fields or for that matter define new field types. Beyond the immediate inconvenience, this implies that I can now only create new databases that make use of existing record and field types.

As far as I can see, the only options are:

  • Revert to Windows 7. (But I’m past the 30-day limit on the Win 10 upgrade so this would require a factory reset of the laptop, which would involve wiping the drive and reinstalling everything.)
  • Bite the bullet and look seriously for a replacement for Idealist. (ConnectedText is my number one contender at the moment.)
  • A third possibility (for some folk) might be to keep a backup laptop with Windows 7 on it, use that to make field and record changes, then transfer the changes to the Windows 10 system.

Update (13 February 2016):

I’ve just had a brainwave. The record and field types in Idealist 3 are determined by a global definitions file (Idealist.def) in the Idealist program folder. It turns out that this is a plain text file, which can be opened in any text editor. Although I am no longer able to play with the record and field types using the commands available in Idealist itself, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why I can’t simply edit the def file directly to achieve the changes I want. In fact, this strikes me as potentially a quicker and more powerful way of making such changes than the rather old-fashioned dialogue boxes in Idealist. If I’m right, Idealist can continue to be my information manager of choice for the foreseeable future.


Anonymous said...

Please let us know if this did work out ok.

Jan van Steenwijk

Lawrence Osborn said...

Sorry, I meant to add an update but I’ve been so busy that it slipped my mind.

Yes, directly editing the def file allowed me to make the changes I wanted.