Archive for October, 2008

Chandler 1.0.2

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

We are releasing a new Chandler Desktop, version 1.0.2, in order to address a couple of serious issues some users have reported. The following two bugs affect data export and reload:

  • 12335 Total data loss on chandler startup – restore not possible
  • 12353 Export to .chex fails

There is also a fix that addresses an interoperability problem that came up testing the
iPhone/iPhone Touch Quick Entry widget:

  • 12381 Make eim lowercase all keys

You can download the app here,
or by using the “Check for Updates” feature in Chandler.

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Announcing the new Chandler Users Advisory Group

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

We are pleased to announce the formation of the Chandler Project User Advisory Group. Over the past 3-6 months, it’s become apparent to us (OSAF staff) that there is a lot of energy in the user community and that a more organized approach to harnessing that enthusiasm would do the project a lot of good.

Open source projects run the gamut when it comes to governance and decision-making. One of the challenges we face is ensuring that users continue to have a prominent voice as a volunteer developer community emerges around the re-architecture effort. The formation of the advisory group is a first step towards taking on that challenge.

So I am happy to say that 3 of our most active users on the users-list have agreed to form v.1 of the User Advisory Group. You probably know them from the list. Davor has been involved in the project for over 3 years. Andre, for over 2 years and Keith for a year and a half. Their contributions have ranged from providing user feedback to painstaking debugging and helping new users get started.

(I’ll hand it over to Davor, Andre and Keith to introduce themselves.)

DAVOR CUBRANIC (Vancouver, Canada)
I have always had interest in personal and group information management. Prior to Chandler, after much searching I had settled on EccoPro as my PIM, and was very happy with its speed and power. Unfortunately, it was also Windows-only, closed-source, abandoned by its developer, and wasn’t designed for syncing outside the LAN. Just around the time that the syncing was starting to become an issue for me (since I needed to maintain my calendar/pile-of-info both from home and office), Chandler started to be stable and capable enough to be used on a day-to-day basis. I slowly left Ecco behind for everything except as a legacy reference store, and—just like Keith—wouldn’t want to live without Chandler any more.

What excites me about the project.
At a project level, it has to be Chandler’s openess and its willingness to explore new forms of personal and small-group information management and collaboration. At a technical level, it’s both the basic idea of creating a distributed system for flexible information management, and the opportunity to see it (re)implemented using some very interesting programming techniques (viz. the Trellis framework, which forms the foundation of the rearchitecture branch).

ANDRE MUENINGHOFF (New Jersey, United States)
As did many past and present users of the venerable Lotus Agenda
(MS-DOS) application, several years ago while searching the web for a worthy replacement, I found the Chandler Project. I was also browsing for new PIM tools to use in my implementation of the (then new) Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. Given the promise of the early roadmaps for the Chandler application, the ground-breaking thinking, and the warm welcome and support by the Chandler team to newcomers and neophytes, I became and remain hooked as a user and a contributor. As is well documented, the project has had many successes along with its share of challenges. The 1.0 release is an important and satisfying milestone for users. With the help of an active user community, it is my hope that the 1.0 release will be able to be marked as the “end of the beginning” of the Chandler Project.

What excites me about the project.
The early goals for the Chandler application held great promise. The 1.0 release delivers on many of them, and foreshadows many more. Chandler delivers ground-breaking thinking about managing personal workflows, sharing calendars, and small-group collaboration on top of cross-platform support, Web 2.0 tools, and an extensible architecture. Maybe one day Chandler will be able to pick up where Lotus Agenda left off and also sync bidirectionally with my Palm handheld. What excites me is the continued commitment to ensuring users are involved in the front-end of this open source project as the transition to an all volunteer organization is completed.

KEITH WINSOR (Norfolk, England)
Having been a Palm user for years, I found myself looking for a replacement with a future. I had spent years searching for the ultimate PIM, without success. I’d found Chandler some time before and kept half an eye on it, even though at the time it was little more than vapourware. Starting my own business meant I was on the lookout for a way of sharing a PIM and everything just fell into place. I’d be the first to admit there are still one or two rough edges, but I can’t imagine being without Chandler: it just sort of works the way I do.

What excites me about the project.
Chandler seems to me to be the ‘openest’ of open source projects. It genuinely seems that the future direction of Chandler will be driven by the user community and I’m very excited at the prospect of playing a role, however small, in the evolution. It’s already very usable: who knows where it could go from here?


We will be working out the scope of roles and responsibilities individual members of the group will take on in the coming weeks. Here is an initial brainstorm of project areas.

A few projects we’d like to start right away include:

  • Creating a users web forum. – Davor will be sending out a proposal for comments in the next week.
  • Crafting an advisory group “charter”. – To be worked out publicly on the Users-List over the next month.
  • Recruiting more members! – Ongoing.

One of the areas we expect to work on continuously is the issue of governance. What “rights and responsibilities” does the advisory group have with respect to volunteers who are writing code or contributing in other “tangible” ways, e.g. writing documentation, submitting art work, etc. What is the make-up of the group? # of people? How are members elected? Are there “term limits”? To get things started, OSAF staff has drafted 3 founding members. Going forward however, we want to establish processes for growing and sustaining the group.

Our first governance project is to look for models in other projects.

  • Davor brought up Apache Project’s notion of a “core developer group”.
  • What about non-software development models? e.g. Wikipedia “stewards”?

There are a few points of process we think we’d like to implement right away.

  • The group will work primarily on the Users List. Mails will be tagged [UAG] in the subject line.
  • There is a public, shared Chandler collection to keep track of projects.

I imagine that in the coming weeks, we will be bringing these issues to the users-list, looking for input from the broader community. So stay tuned for more discussions!

Note Some of you may be wondering what my role is specifically with regard to the advisory group. I am not technically a member of the advisory group. However, during this initial period as the group is finding its legs, I expect to be actively involved in getting this rolling.

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How do you use the Chandler Dashboard?

Monday, October 6th, 2008

The Dashboard collection in Chandler has some interesting properties (not all of which, intentional ;) that have proven fertile ground for experimentation by some of our more adventurous users.

Going into Preview, we had a number of theories about what user needs the Dashboard would fulfill. Some of our assumptions have played out, others haven’t. Here is a recap:

1. We thought it was important for users to get a cross-collection view of all their data where the could process items regardless of what collections (groupings, contexts, categories) they had been assigned to. It’s also a handy way to see what’s new across all of your collections without having to click on individual collections one-by-one.

2. On the other hand, given the number of “other people’s collections” an user might subscribe to, we wanted to make sure that people had a way of quarantining FYI subscriptions from the personal collections in their Dashboard. As a result, we implemented a “Keep out of Dashboard” feature that allowed you to quarantine items on a per-collection basis so that they weren’t automatically picked up by the Dashboard.

There are still some behavioral idiosyncracies to be worked out, but it’s been interesting to see how users have made creative use of these 2 relatively simple ways to define the Dashboard view.

1. Some people use the Dashboard get a view across of “their personal stuff” versus “other people’s stuff”. (I use it this way, although I don’t spend very much time in the Dashboard collection.)

2. Some use the Dashboard purely as a place to collect new notes, an “intake” area so-to-speak. Once the note has been “processed” and added to the appropriate collections, it is removed from the Dashboard. In order to make this work, all of your collections must be initially kept out of the Dashboard. (This is analogous to the GTD Collection phase.)

3. Some use the Dashboard as a way of hand-picking a sub-set of NOW items to focus on “Today”. (I imagine these would be users who find themselves regularly ending up with pretty large NOW sections in each collection.) Again, in order to make this work, all of your collections must be initially kept out of the Dashboard.

How are you using the Dashboard?

Dashboard screenshot

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