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.

2 comments:

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.