OSAF in Transition
After six and a half years, I’m going to be ending my involvement with the Open Source Applications Foundation and the Chandler project. OSAF and Chandler will continue, as led by the extremely able Katie Parlante. You can read the official announcement on the Chandler Project blog.
When I conceived of the project in 2001, I had high aspirations for an innovative Personal Information Manager built around an open source model. We invited Scott Rosenberg, who was embarking on a book about why software is hard to make, to be an embedded journalist on our journey. His account of OSAF’s formative years, Dreaming in Code, captures the big vision as well as the many struggles to realize the it. By the end of 2005, the end of the period covered by the book, OSAF still had not produced any usable code.
Determined more than ever to produce something, we retrenched and cut back on the ambition level drastically. I stepped back from an operational role, while remaining Chair, and Katie became the project’s General Manager. In September of 2007, we released Chandler Preview. I have been happily using it as my sole calendar for half a year now.
Since the release of Preview, there’s been a lot of soul searching around 543 Howard St. Members of the core team felt strongly about proceeding to a 1.0 release and beyond. Personally, I felt the time had come for me to move on and focus on other projects.
I’m proud of everyone who worked on the project, their persistence, and their contributions. Besides Chandler itself, OSAF was the birthplace of CalDAV, which is emerging as the standard for calendar coordination across multiple clients and servers. OSAF also served as the fiscal sponsor for the Mozilla Foundation between its spinout from AOL/Netscape and when it secured its own tax-exempt non-profit status. In that respect, it played a small but important role in the great Firefox success story.
The fact we did not produce what I had originally envisioned, should not detract from the value of what has actually been done so far nor should it detract from the possibilities for the future. I take responsibility for failing, early on, to match OSAF’s idealism with proportional pragmatism. It’s been a good and valuable lesson to learn and apply.
I spoke to one reporter who asked what my reaction was to bloggers “throwing dirt on the bones of the project”. I said, “that’s the job of the blogosphere, to be outrageously outspoken about everything. Bloggers are sometimes mistaken, but never in doubt.”