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Mitch Kapor's Outlook-Killer 371

Kent Brewster writes "In the San Jose Mercury this morning: 'For more than a year, [Mitch] Kapor and his small team have been working on what they're calling an open-source "Interpersonal Information Manager." The software is being designed to securely handle personal e-mail, calendars, contacts and other such data in new ways, and to make it simple to collaborate and share information with others without having to run powerful, expensive server computers.'" Kapor explains his intent in his own words.
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Mitch Kapor's Outlook-Killer

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  • by troll ( 593289 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:18PM (#4491267) Journal
    Or did anyone else read the headline and think there was yet another outlook vulnerability?
  • for a good replacement for some time now for the windows platform. Outlook works fine but from a security standpoint, its horrible. I'm glad this is open source because i don't want to shell out lots of money either. Updates will be prompt as well :D
    • It would be possible to make mozilla act as described, wouldnt it?
      The mail functionality is there and the calendar is getting there, although it is very basic right now.
      • by cscx ( 541332 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @08:31PM (#4492114) Homepage
        It would be possible to make mozilla act as described, wouldnt it?

        No. Not even close. Not trolling here, just talking reality, my friend.

        Think Ximian Evolution -- but that's such a verbatim copycat of Outlook that I'm very surprised that they haven't been sued yet.
        • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @11:53PM (#4492965)

          Think Ximian Evolution -- but that's such a verbatim copycat of Outlook that I'm very surprised that they haven't been sued yet.

          Yes and no. Screenshots would make it seem like an Outlook clone. And Evolution does mimic some of Outlook's functionality. But they're actually quite different.

          So what's the same? Layout is simular. Mail, calandering, tasks (todo), contacts. Summary. And that's about it.

          Outlook has memos and a journal. It has a more advanced flagging system. And numerous other tidbits and features I'm probably completely unaware of. It also has better integration. For example, you can create an appointment with an email note in the appointment's notes by dragging an email to the Calendar. No such functionality in Evolution.

          But Evolution has its own features. Its searches are better. I prefer the way it threads messages. And its vfolders have proven to be rather amazing once I started to understand their use. Evolution also has nice touches such as quick access to email source and headers. And it is rather sane when handling potentially abusive HTML email (ie: by default, it won't load images from remote sources until told to).

          Yea. Evolution and Outlook look simular. And they're bound to compete in one way or another. But they're hardly identical.
          • by cscx ( 541332 )
            Two things that caught my eye were the Office-like shortcut toolbar on the left side, and the calendar page, which copies every single mundane detail from Outlook's interface, especially the date-book stacking (i.e., squishing more than one day's view on the screen). Even the positioning of the Calendar and Tasks list.

            But then again, Evolution is meant to be an alternative to Outlook, with the least user training required to transition.

            But like I said, I'm surprised that they haven't been sued yet. Maybe cause it's freeware.
            • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:06AM (#4493422)
              Can you sue for "look and feel"? I thought that became a lost cause early on with legal battles between Microsoft vs Apple, and Lotus?

              Outlook's main interface may be becoming commoditized (assuming this layout is an Outlook first). Other PIM implementations, like the default Palm calendar, allow multi-day views simular to Outlook. I seem to remember a third-party Palm app that squished ToDo items in that view too.

              It may very well be that there is nothing for Microsoft to do. I would imagine they would put their considerable legal resources to work if they thought they had a case. Freeware or not.
  • by colin_n ( 50370 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:20PM (#4491280) Homepage Journal
    Why not build on the success of evolution?
    • Re:Evolution.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CvD ( 94050 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:37PM (#4491364) Homepage Journal
      +1 Insightful... why reinvent the wheel when there's Ximian Evolution [], which already has a whole load of these features and an actual working product. I know it happens all the time in the open source world, but that doesn't take away my right to bitch about it. :-)
      • Re:Evolution.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <{ac.oohay} {ta} {ssorGHnaitsirhC}> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:51PM (#4491438)
        If you read his weblog he wants it to work on all platforms.

        "Have I mentioned it's going to run on Macintosh, Linux, and Windows and will not require a server"

        Evolution is not exactly intended to be run on a Windows Box or a Mac...
        • Re:Evolution.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by egreB ( 183751 )
          Well, Outlook does exist for Mac (OS X AFAIK, maybe others as well). It's just called something else. Entourage is actually quite good, and doesn't contain as much security holes as Outlook on Windows does. But still, it's too complicated and [feature|bug]-filled to get as useful as it could.

          Even though, I'm all for a free (as in speech) alternative. I especially like the server-free solution they're laying out, although I'm curios about how that will be implemented. I really hope someone will take the initiative to hack some syncing with palm-devices into this thing as well. I Outlook-syncronisation is one of the main features that still attracts users to Outlook..
          • Re:Evolution.... (Score:3, Informative)

            by Tokerat ( 150341 )
            ...although I'm curios about how that will be implemented.
            Rendezvous []?
          • Re:Evolution.... (Score:3, Informative)

            by dbrutus ( 71639 )
            Entourage, Outlook Express, and Outlook all exist on the Mac platform. What's really weird is that Outlook (the Exchange client) is not made by the Mac BU but is made by the Exchange client group. It's a horrid little client but it gets the job done.
        • Re:Evolution.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:13PM (#4491775) Homepage Journal
          ALL platforms?

          There's no mention that it will run on PDAs. In fact it sounds like it's not intended to. I think it should. If it's a really lightweight app, it should run on a PocketPC.

          (Yeah, Microsoft, dont' feed the trolls, blah blah blah. Stay with me folks.)

          The very last line of The Article says "In the era of the WEB, are PC applications obsolete?" I think, for an "outlook killer" the answer has to be yes. Not having a handheld version of a LIGHTWEIGHT, MULTI-PLATFORM PIM seems to completely miss the point of that whole "market space." Leveraging that portability onto the PDA-space would enhance this product's Outlook-killability.

          You can get PDAs with 400 MHz processors and 64MB RAM nowadays, with WiFi those things are capable of playing in realtime. Why ignore that?
          • Re:Evolution.... (Score:4, Informative)

            by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:55PM (#4491926) Homepage
            If it's a really lightweight app, it should run on a PocketPC.

            Typical slashbot that didn't read the article, eh?

            It uses P2P, with a no-server, freenet style data distribution model... think that's lightweight???
            Well, even if the binary was small enough to fit on an ARM based proc, you would still have problems with the amount of bandwidth and always-on connectivity that P2P implies.

            Now if they managed to make some soft of satellite *mobile* program that attaches to your always-on desktop/laptop app, that would rule... but then again, that would be a different approach, and so far, this project is still vapor.

    • Re:Evolution.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by illusion_2K ( 187951 ) <slashdot.dissolve@ca> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:38PM (#4491373) Homepage

      Being an evolution user (and former Outlooker) myself, I was curious to see what he plans on doing. But from what I see on his features page [] I only noticed a couple features that interested me. (Naturally YMMV)


      • auto-archiving of old mail
      Information Sharing & Exchange
      • integrated Instant Messaging and presence management (Jabber)
      • remote peer-to-peer browsing of others' data
      • flexible security model to control access
      • file and document sharing
      • remote queries, e.g., look up address in another person's contact list
      • automatic updating of information from remote sources: receive new contacts, changes to existing contacts automatically (publish-subscribe)
      • home and work PC's with complete automatic replication of data

      Evolution seems to have all the other features already in place (although some may only be accessible via the Exchange connector). I'm sure they would be able to add the others without too much difficulty.

      Apologies for the total cut & paste job.

      • Re:Evolution.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by H310iSe ( 249662 )
        I think the point was that it would run without exchange - that's the killer part of most small-business email systems, the expense (outright and TCO) of exchange. And try to find commercially hosted exchange servers to use. Don't exist.

        I'm all for anything that does an end-run around exchange.
    • by colin_n ( 50370 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:39PM (#4491378) Homepage Journal
      Why is that considered funny? I wasnt trying to be funny. Was it funny to people?
    • Re:Evolution.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by arnoroefs2000 ( 122990 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:07PM (#4491503) Homepage
      Apparently this is why:

      "Recent open source groupware products and projects (Evolution, Kroupware) use Outlook as the baseline for design and functionality, an approach which benefits users by being familiar, but doesn't take design risks which could have big pay-offs for users in power and simplicity. We're trying to re-think the PIM in fundamental ways and expect to be judged in terms of our success in achieving that goal. We're building the product on using up-to-date architectural components (peer-to-peer networking, integrated instant messaging, an RDF-compatible semantic database) and are not saddled with legacy code. At the same time, we will be fully compliant with a variety of open standards, such as iCal, vCard and the Jabber protocol."
      • Re:Evolution.... (Score:4, Informative)

        by MythosTraecer ( 141226 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @08:15PM (#4492035)
        Exactly. Rather than clone Outlook, or try to make a more usable version of it, Kapor et al. want to create a new, completely different PIM, one that fits people's needs in a way Outlook does not. They believe there's a market for a PIM like that, and I'm in agreement with them. However, I'm dubious of the prospect that the long-dead Agenda is the correct prototype for such a revolutionary new information manager. On the other hand, calling "revolutionary" a program that does things differently than Outlook shows just how far Microsoft has eaten all innovation from the market.
      • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @09:12PM (#4492305)
        If you are thinking of "rethinking the pim" go look at an old version ecco pro. That was one awsome pim that got buried for no reason.
  • by schlach ( 228441 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:20PM (#4491281) Journal
    Kinda disappointed... For a second there, I thought it was another email worm that uninstalled Outlook on its way out...

  • sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karamchand ( 607798 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:22PM (#4491288)
    But as long as I do not see at least some screenshots it is just vaporware for me.
    Perhaps this is a bit exaggerated but I've simply experienced too many disappointments with software which does not exist yet.

    Anyway, still I wish good luck to this project! :-)
  • good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solendril ( 415296 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:23PM (#4491294) Homepage
    Good thing. I despise outlook. I work at a tech support department at a medium sized college, and we officially support netscape (not much of a better choice) but outlook attracts email worms like a neon light attracts bugs. After the hundreth box that I had to zero or get our net engineer to block I'd love to see something more secure. I'm using Eudora right now.

    Also, I'd love to see popular email programs support background encryption, something that happened behind the scenes without the users notice, so even the most inept id10t could handle it. It's ridiculous that 90% of the world is sending it's email around in cleartext. Are we just begging the FBI or the NSA to read our minds?
    • Re:good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:34PM (#4491345)
      Don't confuse Outlook Express for Outlook 2000. OE is the worm attractor. OL2K, though somewhat vulnerable, is nowhere near as problematic as OE. It's kind of surprising considering how much more OL2K does.

      OL2K is more than an email prog, it's got a lot of cool things going for it. You've got the calendar, the todo list, the sticky notes, and contact list. This may not seem all that interesting until you synch up with an device such as a PDA.

      I have an Ericsson T-68. It has an IR port (and bluetooth) and synchs up with my laptop. My laptop is running OL2K and has my contact list on it complete with phone numbers and email addresses. If I update a contact with a new phone # in Outlook, then it appears on my cell phone. In other words, if I buy a new cell phone, I don't lose all my phone #'s. Pretty cool considering I didn't have to buy a $120 cable to link the two.

      The todo list has been a surprisingly useful feature on my phone as well. I do not carry my PocketPC around. My laptop's not on all the time. So what happens when I need a reminder? Well, I enter something to do in Outlook, the phone grabs it and will alert me. This may not be interesting to all of you, but it is to me. Nearly forgot my gf's birthday is on Tuesday and I need to go buy her present today!

      Anyway, this isn't a 'Run out and get Outlook!' post, it's a "here's why people use it" post so that it's clearer why something like what is mentioned in this article is so interesting. MS basically has no competition in this area because nobody else seems to understand the value of it. The only app I can think of that could have given OL2K a run for it's money is the Palm Pilot desktop. It had similar features, though I don't remember it having mail. (note: I'm not saying it wasn't a mail client, I'm saying I don't remember it having one.)

      Until OL2K has competition, it is really hard to replace Office. Until Office is replaced, Windows cannot be replaced. (in a bidness setting...) As a matter of fact, that's why I'm not using Star Office right now. I'm too dependent on OL2K's org features. Might as well install the rest of Office while I'm there.
      • Re:good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by delta407 ( 518868 ) <> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:07PM (#4491756) Homepage
        OL2K is more than an email prog, it's got a lot of cool things going for it. You've got the calendar, the todo list, the sticky notes, and contact list. This may not seem all that interesting until you synch up with an device such as a PDA.
        Or, until you hook it up to an Exchange server in a company with a few hundred employees. Most corporations that use Outlook do so not for the e-mail capability, but rather the groupware capability -- scheduling appointments collectively, meeting requests, delegatation, etc. As it stands, there are few products that can match Outlook's rather full feature set.

        Outlook is actually a decent program with far fewer vulnerabilities than Outlook Express. Also, since a corporate deployment of Outlook is in a controlled environment, server-side antivirus solutions are possible and make a whole lot of sense. Properly set up, Outlook can be a good solution to an office communication problem.

        (Of course, I still hate Exchange, but the users don't seem to mind...)
      • Re:good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

        by florin ( 2243 )
        Don't confuse Outlook Express for Outlook 2000. OE is the worm attractor. OL2K, though somewhat vulnerable, is nowhere near as problematic as OE. It's kind of surprising considering how much more OL2K does.

        Sorry, but this is just not right. Outlook (9x or 200x) is at least as vulnerable as Outlook Express, and probably more so. More often than not the MIME header, buffer overflow or Windows scripting host exploits that affect OE work just as well in Outlook too. And then it's also susceptible to malicious VBA code.

        That said, Outlook isn't all bad. For one thing, few people actually have to pay for it, because MS likes to throw it at you as a package deal every chance they get (like say when you buy Microsoft's word processor & spreadsheet, or client licenses for your MS mail server, or a Pocket PC). It's also pretty easy to use - witness the abundance of Windows software that rips off its interface these days, like Evolution does as well.

        One annoying thing is that it used to be possible to share information among Outlooks in smaller workgroups without having to go all the way to an Exchange server, using a concept called Net Folders. It was a bit quirky but inexpensive, unlike Exchange. And unlike Bynari InsightServer, which is currently the only way to sort of emulate an Exchange Server on a Linux platform.

        More than a new (type of) client, what I'd really love to see is a free open source Exchange Server type program that would be usable with both Outlook and Evolution. Make Exchange unnecessary and let everyone use the client they're used to/like/got for free from MS.
    • Re:good idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@monkelec[ ] ['tri' in gap]> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:36PM (#4491360)
      I'd love to see something more secure. I'm using Eudora right now

      Eudora is full of spyware my friend. I switched from eudora to evolution for that reason.

      • Re:good idea (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:03PM (#4491483) Journal
        Qualcomm's response to the accusation of spyware in Eudora: []

        I've been using Eudora for years, including 5.1, and I can't recall any other times Eudora was accused of being spyware, so unless their response is false, it's not "full of spyware".

        I do keep meaning to switch to a fully Linux-based client, but email seems to be one of the big issues for me. I have tried Evolution, KMail and at least 4 others but never quite find it as usable. I spend probably 50% of my work time answering email.

        Of course, this whole thread is off-topic.

    • [OT] Re:good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by benedict ( 9959 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:01PM (#4491477)
      It's not necessarily sensible to encrypt non-
      sensitive material. There's a performance cost,
      a risk of future unreadability, there's the key-
      distribution problem, and of course the difficulty
      of making everyone's implementation compatible.

      There are good reasons to encrypt everything, too,
      I'm just saying it's not black and white.
      • by dbrutus ( 71639 )
        As a rule of thumb anything that I wouldn't be comfortable shipping out snail mail using a postcard should really be encrypted in an e-mail context. That SOP makes the vast majority of mail encrypted.

        Btw: what kind of processor are you running that it doesn't have enough cycles to burn to encrypt/decrypt mail?
    • I use Outlook at work. It's vastly improved from MSMail on Win3.1, which was the third-worst mail system I'd ever seen.* It's mostly usable now, except when things go wrong, but there are some behaviours to avoid.
      • Keeping the mail in one huge monolithic binary undocumented-format file is a really bad idea.
      • Encrypting the mail file can be a good idea, but only if you use a credible encryption algorithm instead of some "compressible encryption" snake oil, and use it in a way that doesn't prevent somebody who has the password from recovering broken mailfiles.
      • Close interaction between the mail system and the network is a bad idea - Outlook has gotten less cranky about starting it up when you're not connected to a network, or connected to the Internet but not your WINS server, but it still doesn't adapt well when you turn the network on and off or change your IP address by moving your laptop or start a VPN. By contrast, Eudora just works - when you tell if to send or receive mail, it opens a network connection and works, but you can start the system without the network.
      • Having the user interface stall when you're receiving big mail messages is bad - if you want to look at something in your mailbox but somebody in marketing sent you a 5 MB Powerpoint that's trickling in over modem, it'll be a while before you can find out the phone number on that calendar entry you wished you could open.
      • Starting up the whole mail system just to get at your calendar or address book is a mistake, especially if starting the mail system is closely tied in to the network status. That means if you're trying to look up a calendar entry or phone number, it can be really slow (see previous two complaints); much better to be able to look it up directly.
      • Incrementally showing search results is nice, or at least showing results from local data while you're waiting for that LDAP server to respond.
      • Having separate local and network-based spam filter tables is fine if you can use both - it's really annoying if you can't add a spammer to the table without discarding the system table.
      • Undocumented files and file formats are bad bad bad...

      * IBM PROFS was the worst. The original Prodigy 300-baud 24x40-character mail system was heinous also. The homebrew Kermit-based system we used that crashed when receiving more than 200KB of mail was about on par with MSMail in those days...

  • Chandler (Score:4, Funny)

    by T-Kir ( 597145 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:24PM (#4491300) Homepage

    Code-named ``Chandler''

    At least it wasn't named after the same character from 'Friends'...

    People might have worried that the software would take after the character... get a bit bloated and be a bit sarcastic. :)

  • More Useful URL (Score:5, Informative)

    by frenchs ( 42465 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:25PM (#4491303) Homepage
    I wasn't too impressed by his description and explination, so I found the page that had the real details, enjoy: []
  • by schlach ( 228441 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:26PM (#4491314) Journal
    ... is Exchange =)
  • by pcx ( 72024 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:30PM (#4491326)
    Mozilla is already open source why do these guys need to re-invent the wheel when they could take the mail and news client already exists and expand on it to make it infinately more useable?

    I mean isn't that the whole point of open source, not having to re-invent everything but to expand and improve on what's already out there?

    Maybe I'm missing something.
  • Cool apps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {cn.dnajd}> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:30PM (#4491327)
    Linux ( FreeBSD, etc...) already has many small single purpose cool apps, but not many large ( mozilla scale) cool apps. Agenda spawned a whole wave of business users to the DOS world and could do the same for Linux.

    From the feature list, this takes care of 80% of the needs that keep business people using windows just to have Outlook calender functions. Agenda was replaced by Symphony and Symphony wasn't the simple freeform database/calendar app that Agenda had been.

    Agenda was allowing complex datamining from freeform databases before the term 'datamining' existed. If this is going to be an extension of Agenda, then much coolness is ahead and many people will be interested in trying Linux just to run the new Agenda.

    • Re:Cool apps (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I ran Agenda as my PIM for about 7 years.

      Speaking as a fully qualified geek, Agenda is an amazing piece of software and the team was thinking totally out of the box. It's not useful to think of it in Outlook terms; it's another beast entirely.

      Poke around with google and you can find out much more about Agenda. Two references to chase down: 1) Agenda: A Personal Information Manager, CACM, Jul 1990, Vol 33, No. 7 (Kaplan, Kapor, others),

      2) There's also a patent (5,115,504)on some of its core ideas, so that should be some good slashdot flamebait. The patent describes Agenda's internal data structures and algorithms. I have no idea how this patent influences the Kapor's current work. Presumably IBM owns the IP from its Lotus purchase.

      Agenda was a complete failure in the market. It wasn't like any word processor or spreadsheet or database program, and the market gave it a collective, "huh?" No doubt Kapor knows all this and wants to take Agenda's intelligent inferencing database and make it useful in an email/calendar/browser/P2P setting.

      It's a good thing.

  • by barracg8 ( 61682 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:34PM (#4491346)
    • it's going to
    • Users ... will have to wait ... to get a version they can fully use
    • a small team ... has just begun writing the production code

    Am I missing something, or is this story a little premature?
    Why not wait until, say, a single line of code has been written before proclaiming it an Outlook killer?

    I wish these guys all the best, and hope they succeed - this just feels more like anti-M$ fud than any real news yet.

  • I -want- a server (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:37PM (#4491363) Homepage
    It's the server-side of calendaring that's missing from Linux, not the client.

    I want to store my calendars, to-do lists, contacts and mail messages on a central server. I want a variety of clienjs, from fat clients to web-based, on a variety of platforms to be able to connect to it.

    There's no shortage of client-side software on Linux to handle this. It's the server-side centralisation that's missing.


    • Kolab (Score:3, Informative)

      by FreeLinux ( 555387 )
      We're still waiting for it, of course. But Kolab has a completion deadline of December 2002.

      It still isn't ready but, you can find it here [].

      On the client side Ximian's Evolution rocks and has been available for a while.
    • Re:I -want- a server (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kubla2000 ( 218039 )
      There are also many groupware suites. One of my favourites is phpgroupware [].
    • by j7953 ( 457666 )

      For calendars and to-do lists, you can simply store the calendar data on a WebDAV share. Apple's iCal is doing that. The file format for the calendar data is documented in an RFC, i.e. it's an open format (iCalendar). I think that for a large calendar, speed might be an issue, though, I've heard rumors that iCal is pretty slow (but I don't have a Mac, so I cannot comment on this). Anyway, there are free WebDAV servers available modules for the Apache HTTPD server.

      For contacts, you could probably use LDAP. There are free LDAP servers available (openldap).

      For E-Mail, IMAP is the obvious choice. There are plenty of free servers available.

      For instant messaging (you haven't mentioned it, but the project this story is about is going to include it), there is Jabber.

      So the only thing that might be a problem is calendaring (speed issues, see above), but I don't think it would be too difficult to "invent" a better protocol if one should be needed.

      The real problem, however, are applications, not servers. I don't know of any integrated Windows application that handles all of the above protocols, so if you want to migrate your servers to Linux in an environment with Windows clients, you're out of luck unless you're also planning on switching your clients to Linux. Developing a good Windows-based alternative to Outlook that relies on open protocols is necessary, imho, and it will help Linux on the server.

      This doesn't mean that a server for Linux that supports the Exchange protocol wouldn't be a good idea, but using open protocols certainly is better in the long term.

  • by Josuah ( 26407 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:39PM (#4491382) Homepage
    In a followup story, the San Jose Mercury has stated that Mitch Kapor's open-source Interpersonal Information Manager project will now need to be self-sustaining by 2004 instead of 2005. Kapor released this statement: "We should have never announced this. Within a few hours, and lasting for almost a day, our server was slashdotted and we had to dish out one tenth of our operating funds just to stay afloat."

    Way to support a new non-profit open-source organization!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:40PM (#4491387)
    was a tie between melissa and the love bug?
  • by Big Sean O ( 317186 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @05:46PM (#4491415)
    Let's see:
    • Cross-platform using wxPython
    • No expensive/incomprehensible server needed
    • Embedded Jabber technology to manage things like shared calendars, etc.
    • Backed by big minds like Kapor and Andy Hertzfeld.
    • The success of PDAs, Outlook, and iCal indicate that the area is ripe for innovation.

    Sure it's vaporware (or Kaporware, if you prefer), but it's likely to be an interesting project.

    I maintain that the Mozilla project isn't just a browser. The code developed will fuel the next ten years of browser development. You can make a similar claim about OpenOffice and office suites.

    I'm going to guess that this project will do the same thing for office and personal information managers. It's an important announcement and I'm looking forward to following its development.

  • Ummmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:00PM (#4491472)
    I don't mean to diss their work, but considering they've spent a year "designing the architecture", where are the docs explaining exactly how it's going to work?

    So far the only info on the site are a rundown of the technologies they've "evaluated". However, they talk about using Jabber as a P2P transport - but Jabber is server based. I've not seen any demos of a p2p version of jabber either. Have they actually thought this through?

  • by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:12PM (#4491525) Journal
    I've seen a number of responses asking why doesn't Mitch and his group put their efforts into (Evolution||Mozilla||etc).

    I may be in the minority, but I hate the Mozilla mail client. It just doesn't work for me.

    I refuse to use Evolution ... if I wanted to use Outlook, I'd install Outlook. I don't like the interface of Outlook and Evolution seems to be a rehash of the same.

    In fact, right now I use Palm Desktop for my PIM (even though my PDA has been without batteries for 9+ months due to inactivity) and Eudora for my email. I would love the -functionality- of Outlook including reliable synchronization with integration with a good email client.

    If I had that, I would switch to Linux as my primary work machine (currently I experiment with several distributions and my off-hours machine is Linux, but my work desktop still runs Windows).

    My point is, why should they contribute to projects they don't like? It's their time and it sounds like they have adopted project directions that many of us have been wanting for a long time ... that is to be -better- than what Microsoft has currently locked most work desktops onto rather than just replicating those interfaces and functionality on a different OS.
  • Cross platform UIs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maunleon ( 172815 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:38PM (#4491624)
    Now I'm not familiar with wxWindows/wxPython, but the problem I see is that by writing using a cross-platform library, you can't take advantage of OS-specific features. You are stuck with the generic widgets that appear to work the same way accross platforms. For example, on windows, you cannot take advantage of COM functionality unless you isolate the code and make it windows-only. Yes python supports COM, but that code will crap out on linux...

    Example: one of the worst interfaces I've seen is Ethereal. Excellent program, very useful, but the interface bites.
  • Python (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:41PM (#4491634) Homepage
    No one has mentioned it yet - I'm amazed it wasn't in the headline. The project is going to be written mostly in Python [].

    Pretty neat. I've been meaning to swap some books in Safari and check out the Learning Python... I guess I finally have some reason.

    This whole project sounds great - but why is there no code available? Supposedly a small group of core developers have been holed up for a year designing this thing... so where's the code already? Man, I can announce an Outlook Killer and throw some html up on the web too. But then again, I'm not Mitch Kapor...


    • Re:Python (Score:5, Funny)

      by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @09:03PM (#4492256)
      The project is going to be written mostly in Python....

      I've been meaning to swap some books in Safari and check out the Learning Python... I guess I finally have some reason....

      but why is there no code available?

      When you learn Python, you'll find that it's high-level, dynamic nature allow you to accomplish a great deal in only a few lines of code. So no code in Python probably contains more functionality than no code in C.

      You'll also find that whitespace is an important part of Python syntax. So look closer--that "no code" could contain a lot of significant whitespace.

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @06:49PM (#4491684) Homepage
    now overwhelmingly dominated by Microsoft's inelegant but overwhelmingly dominant Outlook

    This surprisingly clumsy phrase was clumsy but surprising to me.

  • Frontpage news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MadFarmAnimalz ( 460972 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:05PM (#4491747) Homepage
    OK, now I know that I don't have to write a single line of code to get my project spalshed across the front page. Good. Now, what was it I was going to write...

    (head scratching)

    Oh yea. I remember. Hey, Taco, I'm going to invent a perpetual motion machine the day after tomorrow. For real. Not vaporware. Honest! I demand my story submitted. :-)
  • by mattbland ( 260913 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:14PM (#4491778)
    If the software is going to work without a server I expect it's going to need to share information between clients somehow, so my best guess is that it's going to use P2P technology to do this in conjunction with the Jabber stuff for messaging. But without a central server for replication this is going to mean that data will get out of sync if it has to be cached on other users machines, or otherwise a user will need to keep their machine on all the time they want to share their information such as calendars, etc.

    Inter-operaterability with other systems would most likely be ignored whilst prefering to encourage transistion and migration from one system to another. That way they'll be able to get you to move your data over and use it right away, but not talk with the Exchange server requiring an Evolution like connector (which is not open or free).

    I wish them luck. I can remember sitting in a bar discussing the pros and cons of coming up with a competing product to Exchange and Outlook around about a week before the first time I saw Evolution mentioned, which was on Slashdot.

    I hope that they can pursuade the Mozilla people to allow people to use it if it's that much better.
  • No server? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by styxlord ( 9897 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:31PM (#4491848)
    A bit optimistic. Better hope that the organizer of events never loses a hard drive or leaves their notebook at home. All the technology and specs already exist to make an Outlook/Exchange killer. vCard, iCal, iTIP are all good protocols for PDI and can be used via e-mail and HTTP (defined in iMIP). The best part (and Apple realized this by picking vCard and iCal for their OSX PIM software) is that Outlook already supports auto importing of vCard and iCal data (no if they would auto-export it then life would be great).
  • Q. Protocol? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by simetra ( 155655 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:43PM (#4491886) Homepage Journal
    Is there a standard PIM messaging format to interchange appointments, contacts, etc., between various apps?
  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @07:58PM (#4491943) Homepage
    Among the features [] the email client will have are "in-line viewing of attachments" and "user-scripting capabilities". (!)
    In order to displace Outlook, I suppose people will demand these features. But let's hope the OSA Foundation does a better job on securing these features than MS!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2002 @08:06PM (#4491992)
    I hope I shall not spoil any party!!!

    1. Mr. Kapor is on Groove Networks board of directors, isn't there any conflict of interests...
    2. IMHO the OSAF target features are quite similar to Groove's...never mind the spesific technology used...
    3. MS had invsted $51 million in Groove, and to my best recall parts of Groove were integrated into Outlook (or at least there was intention for such integration)

    One may only wonder if:
    a)Mr. Kapor is looking for a silver bullet against Gate's embrace & extend strategy? as well for Groove financial status?

    To make a long story short, why not open & port Groove Networks source code? would it not be simpler? Groove shall still be the best party to package it as well tailoring new business components...

  • by MegaFur ( 79453 ) <> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @09:35PM (#4492386) Journal

    Note to reader: this is not a flame! I'm just joking around. It's funny, laugh.

    From the article:

    A couple of months ago, it became clear that we could not do all of the above while at the same time fully realizing all of the new ideas we've developed about helping people manage information better. This gave rise to an important idea, which is that we see this project as needing to go through multiple major releases to grow up and become fully realized. We felt it was important to start with something which could over time gain wide adoption, because then there would be a larger potential base of interest for future developments. All of which is to say we're going to wind up deferring working on certain cool features in order to get an initial product out the door.

    At this point, a small team has spent the better part of a year thinking through the problem space and developing the fundamental of our approach and has just begun writing the production code. We've made a number of fundamental decisions about the architecture and have arrived at a preliminary set of features. Andy Hertzfeld has built a terrific prototype which enabled us to explore lots of new ideas.

    A couple of paragraphs ago, it became clear that I could not take all of Mitch Kapor's claims seriously while at the same time fully realizing my internal goals of being honest to myself and others. This gave rise to an important idea, which is that (maybe) Mitch has been in marketing far too long. I felt it was important to continue reading so that I could be fully informed. All of which is to say that I have to keep reading while Mitch drones on and on about "product" and "deferring work" and more "product".

    At this point, a small team has spent the better part of a year thinking through the problem space and developing a theory to explain wtf Mitch's problem is. (Their answer? Five tons of flax! (see ddate(1) or your peneal gland for more info)) I've made a number of fundamental decisions about the quality of the weblog I've just read and have arrived at a (not preliminary) set of conclusions:

    1. Mitch Kapor has been fatally infected by market droids and suits.
    2. I have too much time on my hands.
    3. You have too much time on your hands. (You (might have) read the article, then you read the blockquote of my post (so you read (part of) the article again), then you read all the way down to here.)
    4. I use too many parentheticals. (But it's so much fun, dangit!)

    The part that really got me was the first line of the second quoted paragraph. Yes, I understand what he means by "thinking through the problem space", but I can't ignore that he actually phrased it that way. Guys, the only time a programmer should talk of "problem space" is when she or he is writing code that handles one. E.g. an expert system that has to search its database to find the "best" answer to the user's querry or a (chess-like) games program that has to search the tree of valid moves to find a good one or a root finding program that has to search in the x-y plane (or the x-y-z space or n-dimensional space) for the set of points where f(x[1],x[2],...,x[n])=0.

    Now go talk amongst yourselves while I "think through the problem space" of how to quit being a slashdot bum and go get a job. :-P (I know, I know. The answer is obvious...)

  • by Stoptional ( 469673 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @09:55PM (#4492445) Homepage Journal
    If I hear that sure-fire, badge of stupidity, quoted one more time I may just roll over, die AND throw up on my shoes. Not in that order of course.

    Wheels get re-invented ALL the time. It's called PROGRESS. What? You didn't realize that progress was cumulative? That everyone stands "on the shoulders of giants"? Every post, it seems, that says ANYTHING, someone drags it out "What's the point? We've done that with x?"

    Bozo. You folks are supposed to be thinkers. So think.

    No Wheel, no rubber tyre - no rubber tyre, no tractor - no tracter, no avocado farm - no avocado farm, no Guacamole for the masses!

    And then where would we be? Mmmmm?

    Okay, so I'm a _little_ off topic but at least I have my chips and dip.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @11:28PM (#4492865)
    Reads and updates my calendar from the outlook server.

    That is the only requirement. Anything that does not do this is be defininition not an outlook killer, in that I will still be forced to use outlook at work. Something I can just drop in frees a whole box from runnign Windows.

    I have thought of using Evolution with the connector, but haven't taken a look at it yet.
  • "having every feature a user wants"

    That of course means that /. will have their comments in an email format.

    Imagine the anxiety just waiting for that pop-up window saying: "Your message has been replied" or "You've been moderated insighful".

    And believe that some of us are /. addicts... just wait to see this stuff working !!!

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.