Hertzfeld and Kapor on Chandler


Andy Hertzfeld (of Mac fame) and Mitch Kapor (of Lotus fame) are speaking about Chandler, an open source productivity tool that Kapor is funding out of his own pocket. The organization Mitch created to build it is the Open Source Applications Foundation. Why Chandler?

  • email is the most important productivity tool
  • there are gaps between what email is and what users want.

Mitch describes it as Lotus agenda meets the Internet. A rich ability to associate all kinds of thing and people in natural ways. Here are some features:

  • Power email - managing large volumes of email
  • Sharing and collaboration - share anything with anyone including browsing other people's repositories. Publish and subscribe to let you receive changes automatically.

Chandler is a platform (seems to be the mantra here). The UI is scriptable with a graphical font-end for doing the scripting. Andy says "the hard thing about being a programmer is keeping track of lots of abstract things." I disagree. The hard part of programming is creating static documents (whether textual or graphical) that result in correct dynamic interactions. This static to dynamic barrier is something most people don't cross with ease.

Beyond scripting, the program is designed to be extended in many different ways. All of the subsystems, including the UI, the object database, networking, sharing, and security, will be usable independent of the application.

The application uses wxWindows for cross-platform development and Python as a development language. There is a persistent object database for storage. The architecture allows for multiple front ends: GUI, PDA, cellphones, Web, etc.

I enjoyed the tour around the site and seeing how they've set it up for managing the open source development. They are using a WiKi.

OK, here is the coolest thing I've heard so far: every item in Chandler has a URL. This is totally the right thing. I want all of my items to have a unique address that i can reference. Its interesting that even though naming is very fundamental to Computer Science, we build do many applications that don't give names to things.

Chandler is available now as a 0.1 release. The early releases are not feature complete, although what's there now is interesting to play with. Mitch thinks that by the end of the year, 0.5 will be out and the most extreme early adopters will be able to start using it.