Web 2.0 is great and all, but I bought a Mac to utilize the power of Mac OS X and its software. While working in a browser certainly has its advantages, I believe that the sweet spot of getting work done shouldn't force the user into choosing between two appealing environments. The sweet spot of which I am speaking, of course, is integration and sync - the much sought-after, hard-to-find features that some companies offer with their products, while others at least leave the door open for enterprising 3rd parties to pick up the slack. Fortunately, one of the 'others' I speak of is 37signals with Highrise, their popular web-baesd contact and correspondence app, and the enterprising 3rd party in this case is Simon Menke, developer of Greatascent. This is one of the hands-down coolest plug-ins I've seen in a while that unites web 2.0 with what I like to call desktop 2.0 - the place where desktop apps can interact and sync with online services.
Greatascent, currently in a private beta, is a plug-in for Address Book (and soon other parts of Mac OS X) that serves as a middle man between the contacts on your Mac and those in Highrise. In its early beta state, Greatascent can pull down the contacts you're already working with in Highrise, but its real appeal is allowing you to drag and drop contacts from Address Book onto a new group that is added (pictured) to instantly sync them up to Highrise. Once synchronized, however, another gem of working in Highrise is brought to the desktop: from Address Book's File menu, you can select a Highrise contact and create a new Highrise note or task that is then synched up to the service. Read on after the jump for some screenshots and details of just how cool this plug-in can get.