Version 6.0a - Brief Notes on New Features

Note: there is also a very comprehensive 125 page manual on DateBk6 which you can download from:

125+ page Manual:
Windows Executable:

Today Screen

The Today View is a yet another view in Datebk6 that was added at popular request since many people liked the summary screen in the proprietary calendar application that PalmOne uses on most of their newer devices. This view shows upcoming events on today's date and optionally events for the next week. The top line on the Today View is always the next event scheduled (it's updated dynamically every minute, so you do not need to refresh the screen to see it updated). Floating events and untimed events can be optionally displayed below the timed events for the current day (timed floating events appear in-line with regular events). The screen can also display ToDo's. The number of ToDo's to display is configurable (See View Display Options and tap the Select items for Display in Day View selector at the top of the screen) from 0 (only display summary of ToDo's due today and number not completed) up to 15. Any lines not used by ToDo's will be allocated to display more appointments in this view, so picking a larger number will not result in any lost screen space. There is a feature to display the current phase of the moon or how many days it will be until the next phase. The display of ToDo's, email and moon phases is optional (tap on the previously mentioned selector button in View Display Options to change this). See also section on plug-ins below.


The View Display Options dialog in the Today view allows you to include seconds in the time and select Normal/Small/Tiny fonts for the display of information. Only List today's events  only lists events scheduled for today. Include floating events causes floating events to be included in the display (untimed floating events follow scheduled events, while timed floating events appear in-line with other timed events). Include Floating Events will include all pending floating events for the day including timed floating events that are in the past (if not checked off - they presumably still need to be done and seen).

Include Untimed Events allows you to include regular untimed events (not untimed floating events) after the display of timed events for each day displayed. Include Week# and Day # will display the current week number and/or day number of the year after the date on the top line of the display.

The Color section allows you to have no background (default on installation), an Alternating background where each section (appts, ToDo's, email) is in an alternating color, or a Gradient background where the color changes gradually from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen based on the two colors you provide. You can also specify Lines to create separating lines between each section of the Today View and when checked, a color selector appears to set the color of those lines. Dates sets the color of the Date lines which separate off each day after today, and Text sets a default color for text in the Today View. The text is painted on the background, so only the foreground color is used in the Today view and if a custom color is specified, or attached by a category designation that will override the default color setting here.


DateBk6 has a provision for handling plug-ins - separate applications that will display information in the ToDay View screen and link to a full version of the application. DateBk5 comes with a free plug-in for VersaMail which will display the number of unread and total messages in your VersaMail inbox. ShSh software has written a plug-in for 4Cast which provides a 1 or  2 line display with the weather for today and the next four days from Other plug-ins are being written so check back on the DateBk6 web page on a regular basis to see what plug-ins are currently available.

To install a plug-in first install the plug-in on your Palm device using the standard Palm Installer. Then run DateBk6, go into the Today View, select View Display Options from the Options menu and then tap on the selector at the top of the screen with the label: Tap to Select Items for Today View. In the Plug-Ins section you will see three long buttons labeled Plug-In App #1 (or 2, 3). Tap on the button and DateBk6 will display a list of all installed plug-ins. Select the plug-in you want installed by just tapping on it - the button will then display a label for the plug-in. If the plug-in supports configuration options, a dialog will appear at this time allowing you to configure various options for the plug-in. For example, the 4Cast plug-in has the option to display either 1 or 2 lines in the Today View. After the description of the plug-in you may see a number in brackets (such as ...[2]). This number indicates the number of lines the Plug-in will take up on the Today Screen.

To remove a plug-in, tap on the button and when the list appears of all installed plug-ins, tap the top line in Red with the label: Remove assigned Plug-In - that will remove the plug-in assigned to that slot. There are three slots available for plug-ins and items can be put in any one of them. The plug-ins are displayed in order, so you can change the order in which the plug-ins appear by simply assigning to the first one to the first button, second to the second button and the last one to the third button.

The following plug-ins have been written and are included in the zip download:

db6statusplugin105.prc Displays Battery level and free space in RAM and on expansion card (105=version#)
DateBk6VersaMailPlugin.prc Displays number of unread and total emails in all inboxes
snappermail-plugin.prc Displays count of new autodelivery emails in SnapperMail
4cast170_008_shsh.prc Fetches and displays current weather (requires 4Cast). (170_008 is version#)
DateBk6QuotePlugin.prc Displays a "quote-of-the-day" selected from a memopad record
{internal} Displays number of days to next major moon phase (no install, it's built in)
Check DateBk6 webpage for more plugins

Note: if a plug-in has a bug, it may crash DateBk6 whenever you go to the Today View, and if your startup view is the Today view, then DateBk6 may crash on startup when it calls the plug-in and you will not be able to use DateBk6 at all. Should this happen, you have three ways to deal with it:

1. Use a third party file utility like FileZ (which you can download from almost any Palm Software archive - there's also a copy at: to specifically delete the DateBk6DB preference record: look for a creatorID of CESE and delete it. This will delete your current preferences, but not those of your saved views. Then go into Options | Preferences and then select Today View... from the Options menu and then remove the plug-in(s) that were causing the problem.

2. Delete the DateBk6DB preference database. This will remove the current preferences and all saved views preferences as well. All plug-in slots are set to empty.

3. This is a bit trickier - but will allow you to remove the plug-in without affecting any other preference settings. Go into the built-in calendar application and set an alarm go to off in a couple of minutes. Do a soft reset (that way DateBk6 will now see the alarm). Wait till the alarm goes off, then tap the EDIT button in the alarm dialog. DateBk6 will go into the Details dialog in the Day View to display the details for that item. Now tap the Cancel button, go into Options | Preferences, and then select Today View... from the Options menu and then remove the plug-in(s) that were causing the problem.

Menu Functions

The Options menu allows you to create a new Event or new ToDo directly in the Today View (so unlike the built-in application, you do not have to switch to another view just to create a new item). The Details dialog for appointments now has a Text-Edit panel at the bottom which can display the description. This text-edit panel can be hidden or displayed by tapping on the tall button at the right with the three arrows. When displayed, some of the less commonly used attributes are temporarily hidden by the panel. This last setting for this panel will always be remembered by Datebk6 except that when creating a new event, the panel is forced to be displayed if you are coming from any view other than the day view (since no other view allows you to edit text in-line).

The Alarm Manger function in the menu can also be invoked by tapping on the Alarm icon on the bottom line of the Today View. That bottom line always displays the next up-coming alarm. Tapping on this icon or invoking the menu function brings up the new Alarm Manager (See below for discussion).

Tapping Functions

The Today View responds to taps on items and also Tap&Hold's. A brief tap on an appointment or floating event will bring up the Details dialog with that item displayed, so you can easily modify it or delete it. A Tap&Hold on the item switches to the Day View with that item selected. A brief tap on a Date line does nothing, but a Tap&Hold on a date line will switch to the Day View with that day selected. These functions work similarly with the ToDo database. Tapping on the VersaMail line will launch VersaMail. There is no function associated yet with the Moon Phase feature (although it will likely in the future bring up the current and next month showing all moon phases up-coming, etc.).

Keyboard Functions

The Today view can also be navigated with a 5-way navigation device as appears on most newer PalmOne devices. The up/down rocker will highlight lines in the current view. Press the SELECT button to bring up details for the selected item, or to go to the day (if you tap on a Date line).

Other Notes

Many people will want to make the Today view the startup view for Datebk6. Since the Today view is like any other view, it's very easy to do this. Just go into the Views tab of the main DateBk6 Preference panel (Options | Preferences in any view) and select the view with the letter 'T' as the startup view. By default when Datebk6 is installed, all six views are displayed, although the Today view is listed in lieu of the 4/6-month/yearly view. The 4/6-month/yearly view is of course still available with a Tap&Hold on the left-most Day View button. There is a limitation of six buttons, so you have to pick which of the 8 available buttons is to be displayed in each view.

And to answer another inevitable question: No. No, photographs are not displayed in the Today View. Such a feature might be added in the future although it's a feature that will have to work differently on almost every device (PalmOne has the distinct advantage with their programming that their software only has to run on one device!). The two-color gradient background though produces a nice visual effect and is obviously less distracting than a photograph.

Location & Birthday Fields

DateBk6 now displays both the Location field and the birthday field on newer PalmOne devices which feature the proprietary PIM apps and databases. The Birthday information is stored in the Contacts database and is pulled automatically by Datebk6 in a manner similar to how the built-in application handles it. There is a special birthday index database that DateBk6 and the built-in calendar app actually uses (scanning the contacts database would of course be far too slow) to get the birthday information. Unfortunately due to some bugs in the contacts application, this database can get corrupted. However, Datebk6 includes a feature to automatically rebuild this database should that ever happen, making recovery much simpler.

There is a new preference panel for the Birthday Setting which allows you to select a default icon and font/color for birthday items. Birthday items always appear as the very first item on each day. You can tap on the item to get to a properties dialog which then allows you to change the birthday and advance alarm on the item.

There is a special meta-tag that you can put into the Note field of a contact so that DateBk6 will display a different name for the birthday. The tag is: <BirthdayName=xyz> where 'xyz' is the name you want displayed in DateBk6. Note that the tag is case-sensitive, but can be entered anywhere in the note field of the contact. Use this for example, to only display a Spouse's name, or someone's nickname rather than their formal name.

The location field is now an editable field in Datebk6. If an item has a location, a target icon (blue concentric circles) is displayed at the end of the line. You can tap this icon to bring up the location contents in an editable field. A similar icon now appears in the Details dialog and brings up this same dialog. This has the advantage of displaying very long location field contents (which the built-in application never displays). As in DateBk5, a tap on the description field will display the contents of the location field for a few seconds on the top line. To see all the locations for all events in a day, switch to the list view which displays them after the description for all items. The location field is also displayed in the alarm dialog.

Alarm Manager

DateBk6 now has an Alarm Manager dialog for better displaying and controlling alarms. This can be selected from the menu item or icon in the Today view, or from the popup list on the NEW button in the Day View. This dialog displays the next 50 or so upcoming alarms in a scrolling dialog. It may take some time to find all the upcoming alarms as the entire database from the current date forwards (plus all repeat events) have to be scanned, so you do see a progress bar below the list. However, the instant that the list is filled it is displayed, and if you don't want to wait for the remaining items to be read, just tap anywhere on the list to stop it. You can tap on an item in the list to select it, and then tap it again to go directly to the Day View with that item selected in the Details dialog so you can make any necessary changes.

There is also a feature to silence all alarms until a specified date and time: just check the box and enter a date and time and all alarms (set by DateBk6 only of course) until that date/time will remain silent, although the alarm dialog will be displayed.

The Last button is the same button that was in the Alarm Preferences dialog of DateBk5 and automatically plays back the last alarm to be displayed. If you miss an alarm by inadvertently tapping on the screen or pressing a button to dismiss it, this provides a simple way to bring it back. It also then allows you to snooze the alarm to a future time, so if you dismiss an alarm, but then realize you really want a reminder later on, this provides a convenient way of doing that.

In addition to the feature of silencing alarms to a future time, there is also a special "meta-tag" that you can put into the note field of an event to suppress all alarms for the duration of that event: just put the tag <NoAlarms> (with the angle brackets) anywhere in the note field of the event. This would be convenient for example if you have a weekly staff meeting and do not want any alarms to go off in the meeting. The alarm silencing starts when the alarm first goes off for that meeting, so if you set a 10 minute advance alarm for the meeting, alarms will be silenced from 10 minutes before the start of the meeting to the end time of the meeting.

ToDo Sorting

DateBk6 now allows ToDo's to be sorted on the basis of up to 11 criteria in either ascending/descending order and also to suppress the display of ToDo's based upon any of those criteria. Custom ToDo Sorting now applies to both the integrated display and the SplitScreen display (in DateBk5, the sorting only applied to the SplitScreen display). The sort attributes are in a new preference panel, ToDo Sorting (as noted later on - the preference dialog now has a popup list in the title bar which selects the various panels). When this panel appears, the eleven criteria are listed in the right-hand listbox and that also defines the order in which items are sorted. You can move any of these items up and down in the list to change the sort order. To do that, tap on the item in the listbox, then tap the single upwards pointing triangle (Red on color devices) to move it up one row, or the double triangle to move it to the top of the list. Tap the downwards pointing triangle (Green on color devices) to move it down one row, or the double triangle to move it to the bottom of the list.

You can set the direction of sorting independently for each of the eleven items in the list by tapping the Ascending or Descending pushbuttons on the left side (when it makes sense to do so - some criteria have no intrinsic sort associated with them). So with Dated and Undated you can control whether dated items precede or follow undated items. The Dated criteria has an obvious intrinsic sort - namely by the date field, while the Undated criteria has no intrinsic sort associated with it. You can also press the Hide button to indicate that any item that has this attribute should be hidden. For example, this makes it possible to hide past-due events if you like (something that was not previously possible and which should obviously be used with appropriate care<g>). DateBk6 will only display those buttons that make sense for the currently selected criteria, so for example, when undated is selected, only the Hide button is displayed.

The Sort criteria are saved as part of any saved views, so you can set up different saved views with different sort criteria (in that case you may also need to set the Sort Databases option to get the databases re-sorted when switching views. Note that you DO now have to use this preference dialog to hide untimed or completed events (previously that option was in the main ToDo Preference panel).

The Reset button allows you to reset the ToDO sorting so it matches the standard Sort setting in the built-in ToDo/Tasks application (at least as far as it is possible to do so).

At first the ToDo sort panel is indeed a bit overwhelming, but it has a huge amount of flexibility and once you see how it works, it's really pretty straightforward.

The first thing to understand is that the ToDo sorting panel has THREE different useful functions:

1. It specifies the ORDER OF DISPLAY of all the criteria used to manage ToDO's when there are criteria that SHARE THE SAME BASIC ATTRIBUTE. So you can use this to put dated ToDo's before undated TODo's or vice-versa.

2. It specifies the DIRECTION in which a criteria is sorted if it has an intrinsic sort (more on this in a moment).

3. It allows you to hide ToDo's that have this attribute (IF that attribute is not one that all ToDO's have).

With respect to the first item, the order of display only makes sense when there are criteria that apply to the same basic attribute: For example, with the date/completion/pending attribute, we have several criteria there - past-due, dated, undated, due soon, completed, and not due yet. So we can use this to specify the order in which those items appear - I can have past-due items appear at the top of the list by moving that criteria ahead of all the other criteria with that shared attribute.

The DIRECTION only applies to those criteria that have an intrinsic sort: for example, priority, urgency, date - these all have intrinsic values on which to sort, so the direction is relevant. But one attribute has no intrinsic sort: undated - as all items with that attribute are identical. Even with the Icon attribute, an intrinsic sort is assumed although it may not be useful to most people (i.e. you can sort on the numeric value of the icon (by position or resource ID). I know someone will find a use for this! So with Undated, specifying ascending or descending makes no sense, but neither does it affect anything. I suppose DateBk could gray out or hide the Ascending/Descending buttons when this attribute is selected, although that will probably raise more questions than just leaving it alone when it clearly does no harm.

To HIDE an item with an attribute, this must be an attribute that not all ToDO's have. For example, hiding priority makes no sense at all as it would just hide ALL ToDo's as it is not possible to have a ToDo without a priority attribute. Urgency on the other hand could perhaps make sense since it is possible to have a TODo with no urgency value (i.e. it can be A, B, C, D or unassigned). In that case, it could make sense to allow the hide function to hide ToDo's that have an urgency assigned to them, as this might be a useful adjunct to the urgency filtering. I might for example, want a saved view of all ToDo's to which an urgency has not yet been applied.

So for the HIDE function, these attributes have no meaning:
Alphanumeric - this sorts by description - all ToDo's have a description

Category - this attribute sorts by category name (alphabetically). All items have a category (Unfiled IS a category, and besides which there are other ways to hide by category).

Priority - all ToDO's have a priority
One COULD assign a meaning to the following attributes, although these are not currently implemented in DateBk6:

Urgency - could be used to just display items that have no urgency assigned.

Icons - could be used to hide all items that have an explicit icon assigned (a bit hard to see how someone could make use of that)
In theory, all other attributes have a useful function associated with HIDE and should be implemented. Several people have wanted a way to hide past-due ToDO's and this finally gives them that option (probably to their own detriment, however<g>).

Month View Text Display

The monthly view now has a fourth display mode (in addition to appointment times, icons and free time) which displays the text of each appointment in the tiny font. This option is only available on devices with high-resolution screens. It works best obviously on devices with extended screens in landscape mode (such as a T3/T5/TX, Zodiac, etc.) but is still quite useful on any device with a high resolution screen. Note that in this view, all repeat items are displayed before any of the non-repeat items (which are then displayed in chronological order). There is now a selector at the bottom of the view which pops up the four options for this view, or you can just tap the spacebar to cycle between the appointment, icons, and text views.

Graphical Weekly View Text Display

The graphical weekly view now has a second display mode (in addition to icons) which displays the text of each appointment in the tiny font. This option is only available on devices with high-resolution screens. It works best obviously on devices with extended screens in landscape mode (such as a T3/T5/TX, Zodiac, etc.) but is still quite useful on any device with a high resolution screen. Note that in this view, all repeat items are displayed before any of the non-repeat items (which are then displayed in chronological order). There is now a [T]  button on the top line which toggles the text display on or off, or you can just tap the spacebar to toggle this button directly.

Context-Sensitive Popup Lists

This new feature in DateBk6 has now been extensively enhanced to allow the user to select up to three dozen different functions to appear in the popup list when a Tap&Hold is issued on an appointment or ToDo. There are completely separate lists for appointments and ToDo's, so different functions can be invoked. You can have nothing in the list (which effectively disables Tap&Hold on the description field), one item in the list (in which case a Tap&Hold invokes that function directly without bringing up the list that would otherwise normally appear), or any number from 2-30 items depending on the user's preferences. Displaying more than about 14 items will require that the list be scrolled. There are just a few functions which only make sense in one list vs. the others (an undated appointment has no meaning, for example) and if they get inadvertently included, they just generate a message indicating the function makes no sense in that list. These functions are also maintained as part of saved views, and can therefore be tailored for some particular function. Tap&Hold can also be used in split-screen mode when the ToDo database is being displayed.

Dial Phone # Feature

This feature appears as an item in the popup list preferences. This function will scan the description, location and note fields (in that order) looking for a phone number and will then (based on preference in More Adv. Settings) display a confirmation dialog with that number and also a name, if you include the name in angle brackets after the phone number with no more than five characters intervening (such as: (501) 453-6666 <John Carstairs>). The phone number can only consist of digits, open and close parentheses, and hyphens - no other characters are allowed other than those put in the delimiter list in More Adv. Settings and there must be at least two consecutive digits and one hyphen (or delimiter) in the phone number for it to be recognized. This feature is only supported on devices that properly implement the Palm OS API for dialing, Samsung I-300/330 (500?) phones, and any phone if third party app TakePHone is installed. For now, it will only find the first phone number.

Adjust Date/Time in List View

It is now possible to automatically adjust all the dates and times for a block of items in the list view. This functions in a manner similar to the functions that can change the icon or category for a group of icons. In other words, it can either apply to the current screen, or the current screen and all prior screens that you have paged through. There are two modes for this command based upon the pushbuttons at the top of the dialog. Adjust Date/Time allows you to adjust the date and time for all selected items by a number of days and/or hours/minutes. The items can be adjusted forwards or backwards based upon the pushbutton setting in that dialog, and there is a checkbox that allows you to also adjust untimed events (in that case, only the date is changed, the item is left as an untimed event). Set Date/Time allows you to force a specific date and time to all selected items. Just tap on the Date selector or Time selector to specify that date and time. Again there is a checkbox to adjust untimed items, and in this case, an untimed event will assume the specified time and no longer be an untimed item.

If this command is applied to a ToDo, setting a time will adjust the time associated with the alarm set for a ToDo.

Repeat Attribute on Saved Views

This is an immensely powerful new feature in Datebk6 - saved views can now have a start date and a full repeat specification including start/end times. To assign this attribute to an existing saved view, just go into the Custom/Saved Views dialog, tap on the Change pushbutton and then select the saved view. Tapping on the REPEAT selector will bring up the standard repeat dialog where you can indicate when the Saved View is to run. You can also set the start/end times for the saved view. This could be used for example, to automatically suppress all alarms associated with events in your business category when you go on your regular holiday at the end of March. The uses for this feature are endless, even if they are just cosmetic (I have a different color background in the Today View for weekends, so just turning on the screen has instant feedback that it's a weekend and I can safely snooze my wakeup alarm).

This feature has now replaced the prior feature of automatically showing and hiding categories which was in the Profile dialog of the Appt Categories display. This feature can trivially implement that former feature, but with vastly more power as any preference setting can be changed as well.

Cautionary Note: The Alarm Manager does not take into consideration the possibility that at some future date a saved view may be invoked by the repeat feature which in turn could change the nature of alarms, so the upcoming alarm list might not be completely accurate if repeat saved views are used that change the alarm criteria.

Urgency Attribute on ToDo's

Users of the popular Franklin Covey system have always wanted the ability to attach an urgency attribute to a ToDo that is separate from a priority and so Datebk6 now has a new field for ToDo's to convey this information. By default, ToDo's have no urgency, but you can assign one of four letters, A, B, C, or D to indicate the urgency of the item. There are several similar schemes to Franklin Covey, but the basic idea is to separate priority from urgency. Remembering to buy your spouse a birthday present next year after you forgot this year may be a matter of the highest priority, but if it's still a year away, it is not urgent. Equally, getting your haircut may not be a high priority, but if you are going on a 3-month vacation in Liberia the day after tomorrow, it may well be very urgent. The exact use is up to the user, but you can display the Urgency field next to the priority (you do have to check a box in the ToDo preference dialog to enable this display) and then selectively sort on this field, so you can sort by Urgency first, and then by priority within an urgency level. The Category profile dialog also allows you to filter the display by urgency levels, so you could for example, just include level A urgency or A&B, or A-C or A-D (the latter would include all items for which an explicit urgency setting had been specified.

Miscellaneous Minor Features

Important Note:

Note that DateBk6 now requires two prc files to be installed. Due to size limitations in the Palm OS development tools, the program had to be split up into two separate modules.

DateBk6 has a new registration system. Registration codes from DateBk3 or Datebk4/5 will not work with Datebk6. The upgrade to DateBk6 from DateBk5 may be free to users who registered DateBk5 on or after January 1, 2005 and before September 15, 2006. A DateBk6 web page at has information on upgrading.

Known Bugs in Palm OS Devices

PalmOne Tungstens with NVFS Memory (T5/TX/LifeDrive etc.) have a serious bug in handling bitmap resources when 16-bit color mode is enabled. The symptom is that if any application opens a large icon database in 16-bit color mode, taps on the status bar seem like Tap&Hold's because the PalmOS futzes around for several seconds trying to find the bitmaps to draw in the popup lists. It takes so long to do this, that it errs in thinking a brief tap is a long one. Until PalmOne fixes this bug (and so far it does not look likely that they will), the only workaround is to use a smaller icon database or set the option Force 8-bit Color Mode in the Advanced Settings panel of the main preferences. You won't be able to get nice gradient fills in the Today View, but at least the device won't be exhibiting this problem.

Sony OS/4 Clies  - all tested OS/4 Clie's so far exhibit a problem in that what should have been implemented in the graphics libraries for an OS/4 device was incomplete and so error messages may appear instead of the function working (as it does on all other OS/4 Palm OS devices). A workaround is being investigated but may not be possible - in the mean time, just set the Force 8-bit Color Mode option in Advanced Settings and set NONE as the background for the Today View if your device exhibits this problem. Note that you can get to the Today View's View Display Options dialog by going into the main preference panel (Options | Preferences in any view) and then selecting Today View... from the Options menu.

C. E. Steuart Dewar (aka CESD), Pimlico Software, Inc.