More Thoughts on Cooperation Between and Integrating Open Source Projects

I posted a comment on a Ziff-Davis blog the other day in which the author, Dana Blankenship, suggested cooperative efforts between Mozilla Sunbird and Open Office. While I agree that such cooperation between projects can only benefit users, I think those are the wrong projects to marry — at least in their present forms.

Sunbird is too bloated to even use as a standalone let alone as the Lightning extension available for Thunderbird. I don’t see how something so clunky in a Mozilla-only setting will work if it’s integrated in a setting even more bloated as Open Office’s is.

As it stands now, I no longer use Sunbird/Lightning. It’s just too big, too slow to load. I also disabled and removed the Lightning plug in from Thunderbird. I increasingly use Google Calendar and calcurse.

The former is germane to what I wrote in the aforementioned comment. Google Calendar is totally portable. I can access it via my phone and PDA as well as any computer where I can access the Internet. I can download my calendar and use it locally, etc.

And Google Calendar’s mobility is important: I can change, add, delete wherever I am. With Sunbird/Lightning, I have to be in front of a computer where I have it installed.

Open Office and Sunbird aren’t very portable, much less mobile. The future will be increasingly mobile. Google is already steps ahead of the ball in bundling the services Blankenship suggests should be bundled and taking a lead in providing mobile applications. Google services like Apps and Gears are already popular in some small businesses, and Google appears ready to make a bigger play for enterprise adoption. With a push into wireless communications, Google stands ready to dominate the market for years to come.

Of course, Microsoft is also already a big player in integrated mobile applications. So, too, is Apple with the launch of the iPhone and with what it will be able to do as more applications become available.

That’s the future. Not taking big, bloated desktop applications and throwing them together.

There’s already some desktop integration of office and productivity applications. KDE’s offerings — Kalendar and Koffice — come to mind. They already share a common codebase, and even though KDE’s base libraries are as comparably large as Open Office and Mozilla offerings, the apps don’t add nearly as much overhead as would standalones like Open Office and Sunbird because KDE’s apps share so much of their own code. One thing where KDE may have more relevance, though, is in mobility. Nokia already has developed a browser for their phones based on KDE’s Konqueror.

Mozilla needs to prune the codebase of Sunbird regardless of what they do. So does Open Office. If Open Office can develop their own lean calendaring app, they won’t need Mozilla. I don’t know how two disparate projects can work together if they can’t share more common code to make their offerings nimble and sleek enough to be used in mobile environments, let alone on desktops.

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