Expo Notes: Merlin offers more magic with version 2.5

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Editor’s Note: All this week, Macworld editors will report from the Macworld Expo show floor on meetings with Mac developers, new product announcements, and anything else that catches their eye.

By most accounts—including our own—Merlin 2 was a standout offering in the suddenly competitive world of Mac project-management applications. So what does Merlin maker Project Wizards do for an encore?

Try a 2.5 release of Merlin—released the week before Macworld Expo after a three-month public beta. The latest update delivers multi-user capabilities—”the killer feature,” Project Wizards CEO Frank Blome said—that lets users share projects with far-flung parties. Merlin 2.5 also features the ability to assign access rights to projects and bi-directional synchronization with iCal—change an event in the Apple calendaring program, and it will get altered in Merlin as well.

In Merlin 2.5, tasks not completed on a to-do list carry over to the next day—an addition I both appreciate and dread. And Blome says that financial enhancements in the update offer real conversions between planned and actual costs, giving project managers better control over costs.

“With 2.5, we realized a version that anyone else would call 3.0,” Blome said. However, because he promised networking capabilities to users, Merlin 2.5 is a free upgrade to 2.0 users.

Don’t look for Project Wizards to rest, either—a 2.6 update is planned for the end of this quarter. The company is also working on a Web client as well.

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