timothy falconer's semantic weblog
Big Fractal Tangle

contacts and calendars

My wife and I bought new cell phones last week, both with Bluetooth, both with SyncML. She’s weaning herself off her Palm, trying to find a substitute desktop PIM for Palm Desktop. In the last few days, we’ve run the gamut: Apple iCal/Address Book, Notes (I worked at Lotus on R5), Mozilla Calendar/Address Book, ACT, Chandler, and even such older gems as Ecco, Goldmine, and Desktop Set. The only product we didn’t look at was Outlook, as it’s too prone to viruses.

Why is this so hard! We’re talking about freaking address and event information. Of all application areas, you’d think basic contacts & calendars would be a no-brainer. Getting information to sync between products is trickier, but it shouldn’t be nearly as difficult as it is. Any decent programmer could write the necessary import/export code in a few days at most. It’s incredible how lame this all is.

I want nothing less than completely open interchange between all phones, PIM clients, and PIM services (MightyPhone, Praxo, .Mac, etc). I want translation to and from FOAF. I want LDAP support (sync products should update LDAP servers, so I can sync my Domino directory from afar).

And I want a contact & calendar user interface that’s aimed at non-technical, non-business users. My mom used to use a sub-program of Create-A-Card for her address book. I think they called it “Forget-Me-Not”. She liked it, but then they upgraded the program and she couldn’t transfer her data to her new computer. She actually walked to the back room to use her old computer to look up contact data, which thinking about it now is a tragic thing.

I know there’s a lot of work being done in the area of standards-based contact & calendar cross-pollination. What works now? What can we use next month?

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