Thoughts on where OSAF is headed in the coming year…

January 16th, 2008 by Mimi Yin

We’re working on solidifying our plan over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I find it helpful to think in terms of the following analogy:

OSAF is a ship approaching harbor.

We know where in the harbor we want to dock, it’s called Small Workgroup Collaboration. We have a growing number of users today. We need to build on that to get to the dock.

But there is a difficult reef to negotiate in order to get to the dock.

We can only cross that reef in a little dingy, which necessarily means fewer people and a clear, singular focus.

So, what’s the reef?

Caveat: What I have here is not meant to be ‘official OSAF thinking’ or the ‘final plan’. This is simply my best articulation of where we’re at, at this point in time. I’m expecting that the real plan will emerge over the next few weeks.

Extend Chandler to reach into places where there are already users. Some ideas we’ve discussed include:

- Thunderbird plug-in
- SMS to/from mobile devices
- Facebook app
- iGoogle widget

Improve our marketing messaging. This includes things like:

- Converge on a crisp articulation of Chandler’s core offering. In particular, who is Chandler intended for, what problems does it solve and how does it solve them? More specifically, we need to answer the question from the ‘Chandler as a Managed Workspace’ design list thread:

Why is what we have already good enough for some people such that they have Chandler open all the time and use it as a source of truth? Why do they use it even though I know everyone has a long wish list of features they’d really, really like to have?

- Revamp the landing page,
- Pull together a demo build around real Chandler usage scenarios,
- Post more regularly to this blog to improve transparency into our planning and product decision making process,
- Reach out to build a community around evangelizing Chandler.

Improve usability so that we don’t lose users who are interested in Chandler but get stuck trying to do basic set-up tasks. This includes:

- Smooth out the sign-up process, in particular, setting up the Desktop to sync with the Hub Service,
- Round out basic import/export, share and subscribe functionality in the web app,
- Improve initial split-second visual impressions of both web and desktop apps,
- Implement multi-select to delete/triage/drag and drop multiple items at a time,
- Allow users to re-order collections in the sidebar.

Solidify our offering so that people stick with the product and pass it on to others, aka Remove roadbloacks to people seeing and experiencing Chandler’s core offering.

- Fix pop-to-NOW bugs that are obscuring collaboration workflows and usage scenarios,
- Display the # of unread items for shared collection in sidebar,
- Separate Detail View,
- Finish Month View,
- Print,
- Ways to sub-section the LATER section,
- Reference / Resource / Document Kind for managing reference notes and materials.

Solidify our offering so that we attract a development community.

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7 Responses to “Thoughts on where OSAF is headed in the coming year…”

  1. Webb Roberts Says:

    You left out “make the system reliable for mission-critical use”. Up to this point, every release has been tagged “don’t use this for real data”. So we can’t rely on it, so we can’t use it.

  2. Johann Botha Says:

    Hi Mimi

    I’ve been using Chandler since the 0.7.3 release, so I’m new.. but I like it and use it actively. I’m involved with 4 companies and I have about 10 collections. Using it for calendar and task management… not so much the email parts.

    I use only the Desktop versions (Mac + Linux/Debian). I only share collections with one other (developer) person in the company at the moment. Small company ~20 people.

    My mail client is Mutt. I don’t like GUI MUAs. I don’t use IMAP much, only for Chandler really.

    My primary roles are design, management and communication. From what I’ve read about your goals for Chandler I think I fit the “model Chandler user” profile.

    My Chandler usage thinking revolves around:
    * Planning, identifying/creating/naming tasks, priority of the tasks
    * Calendaring, mostly my own events, but also arranging internal meetings
    * Following up on tasks I’ve delegated

    I’m still not totally happy with the workflow for “following up” but I’ll maybe hack something together with procmail and IMAP where I cc a special mailbox if I need it to become a follow-up task. More about this later.

    First my comments on your ideas..
    * I think the thunderbird plugin, facebook app etc. is a bad idea, focus on your idea and your users. Focus on your power users, the 1% that will contribute, the early adopters.
    * Revamp the chandler website landing page. Good idea.. make it easier to find out what the tool is designed to do in under 2minutes.
    * Post to the blog more. Good idea.
    * Print, can wait.
    * The rest don’t strike me as very useful.. sorry (-:

    My ideas:

    * forget about the web app, focus on the desktop app
    * make it stable, fix bugs, make it a bit less resource hungry, get it to start quicker
    * move, not copy.. it’s annoying that the default action when you try to move something from In to a collection is to make a copy and put a copy in Out. I like to move and keep items in the minimum collections.
    * forget the In/Out email workflow thinking, it’s all about collections, In/Out should not be that special, it’s just a way to talk to IMAP. I’d like special collections that map to IMAP mailboxes or sub-folders. Make it more power user friendly. I’ll design my own workflow.. don’t force me to think in the MUA model.
    * when I send an email and save it to the IMAP events mailbox to remind myself to follow-up, it should not be in “Out”, it should be in “In”
    * remove email MUA thinking, reply/forward etc icons in the top bar should go, focus on building a PIM
    * aggregated overlays: how do people see when I have time to meet with them? how about a feature that allows me to select a group of collections and mark it as an aggregated overlay. I can then flag this agg overlay as “private” so it removes all the meta info (content) and just exports the time slots.. it becomes a very simple list of times I’m already busy. I can then share this with people. I can use this as the default calendar to click on when I want to see when I have time for something.

    Just a brain dump. Hope it makes sense.

    Good work. Good luck.

    ps. I’m giving a presentation about Chandler at the Cape Town GeekDinner soon.

  3. Karim Djelid Says:


    I’m following the development of chandler more than a year now and waiting for the right moment to start using it. I also installed it (desktop version) tried it. For a long period it alsways crashed at startup butlately after a new release it was working.
    My expectations were high due to all the reading I did before and even so I was positively surprised of some things. Where I was disappointed was the mail client functionality. I was reading that you may want to move completely away from being a mail client. For me a PIM System should definitively have mailing functionality. If you find a clean and easy to use way to provide Chandler as an add on to a mail client, ok maybe.

    For now am heavily using Thunderbird (lot’s of Mail accounts, lots of folders, mail marking, virtual folders etc.) and organizing myself almost only with it, specially now with the calendaring functions getting better.

    So for me there is on one side THUNDERBIRD as a great mail client and on the other hand Chandler promizing revolutionary ways of organizing, working, etc.


    Therefore Thunderbird Plugin sounds very good to me.

  4. Uffe Pedersen Says:

    Hi – great app

    increased support for the 24 hrs system would be appreciated, so it is shown in the calendar and in the side bar. (At least I can type in stuff like 16:30 etc :) )


  5. Mimi Yin Says:

    Hi Webb, We removed the ‘Don’t trust your data with this version of Chandler’ from the startup screen for the Preview release, 4 months ago. Could you tell us where you are seeing this message? – Mimi

  6. DaniGro Says:

    OSAF is doomed. Mitch made many statements and did deliver little. There is no trust left.

  7. Johann Botha Says:

    More ideas for improvement..

    I’d like options for:

    * Week starts on Monday (not Sunday), mostly for the week-view
    * Date format is day/month/year
    * 24hr time