At the When 2.0 workshop, Open Source Application Foundation Chair Mitch Kapor addressed the status of Chandler, OSAF's evolving Personal Information Manager (and answer to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook) that will integrate calendar, email, contacts, task management, notes, and instant messaging.
Kapor seemed keen on explaining why Chandler, which has been in the works for about three years, has taken so long to develop. "If you have an enormous vision, it's impossible to implement in one gigantic release--you have to innovate through a series of leaps--calendar is the first such leap you would want to download and use."
Sounds like a lesson learned in the midstream of a very ambitious open source project: "Getting the equivalent to Outlook and Exchange won't be good enough," Kapor said. "It's a moving target. [Chandler] is the equivalent of getting a whole operating system, to get something a big corporation might actually switch to." The latest Chandler release (0.6) due this month includes shareable calendars with a note field, "just enough to get started," Kapor noted.
Kapor illustrated some of the problems in developing calendaring functionality, citing time zones as highly nuanced and difficult to get right. For example, some people want calendars to change to reflect the local time, to view events based on the location's time zone, or have a floating time zone in which events, such as going for a run, are anchored at a specific time no matter the location.
Kapor hopes that OSAF can leverage the open source model. "Most open source projects redo things that have already been done once or twice or 20 times in the open source model," Kapor said. "You can iterate rapidly--if it's good enough to attract criticism, we will be able to improve it and move forward much more quickly. We have yet to prove that and hope to be surprised by making a tool that has extensibility, so people smarter than us can figure out neat stuff that will roll into the product. The model has not penetrated the deep semantics of activity management--it's more of community based things with participation from people we haven't met yet."