Review: Fantastical

Fantastical enhances iCal, Busycal, Microsoft Entourage, and Microsoft Outlook. It allows you to quickly and easily create new events in the menubar using natural language input. Fantastical also lists your events. The only thing Fantastical doesn’t do is list or edit your To-Dos.

Entering sentences in Fantastical is done in natural language, so for example “meeting in London on July 25″ will be considered as a sentence meaning on the 25th the location where the event will take place is London, while the event itself will be a meeting. Fantastical will also search your Apple Address Book when it looks like you’re trying to invite someone to the event. So, typing “lunch with Eric” will highlight Eric and allow you to invite Eric to the event. Another feature of Fantastical is synchronisation with CalDAV calendars. Google Calendar is an example of the CalDAV specification. The synchronisation with CalDAV happens through iCal.

Fantastical is AppleScript aware, supports multiple alarms, and allows you to uncheck calendars you do not want to add events to. The one and only thing that I missed from Fantastical was the ability to create and list To-Dos. Fantastical itself looks great, showing you a nicely designed calendar with below it a list of events that you entered before in iCal, a registered CalDAV calendar or Fantastical itself. Double-clicking on a date allows you to create a new event that will automatically be synchronised with iCal or Busycal, Outlook or Entourage. One thing that I almost overlooked was Fantastical’s Service; you can select text and send it to Fantastical from within any application supporting Apple’s Services — very useful.

When double-clicking an event that you entered in a CalDAV calendar, Fantastical will first open iCal and allow you to edit the event. If iCal hasn’t synschronized with the server yet, you’ll first have to let iCal finish its business and then select the event manually. Fantastical synchronizes with CalDAV by itself, unless iCal was open first — very clever, because this ensures you’ll always have the most efficient path to immediate action, whether it be editing or creating events.

On my system the Address Book feature worked some of the time. Sometimes only part of the name was recognized. The Address Book integration seems to work through Apple’s data discovery technology that also enables you to copy address details in Mail to Address Book without first having to select and copy/paste the data in the first place. It looks the same and behaves the same. The Location recognition, however, never failed.

Nice detail is that when you enter your sentence, the words Fantastical recognizes as data snippets ‘fly’ into the correct fields.

Do you need Fantastical? Given the many features that are so well worked out, and the enhanced ease of use, and indeed efficiency that you get out of this little application, I would certainly recommend it. It does not require a calendar application to be open, instead offering direct access to your events from the menubar, so it certainly beats any calendar application used by itself. Its CalDAV synchronization capabilities make it useful in a workgroup environment. Fantastical sells for the low price of just under 16.00 Euros.