Thu 29 Apr 2021 6:16AM

Modern, Open, Standards-compliant Productivity Suite

US Ujjwal Sharma Public Seen by 19

I might be "scratch your own itch"-ing too far here, but I feel that there's no good options in this space and pretty much every professional would appreciate better tooling.

Thunderbird is on life support, Evolution looks like it's stuck in the 2000s and everything else is closed off.

"Players" in the space building modern solutions either want to create completely walled gardens (like G-Suite) or don't care about standards (like every single TODO app out there).


The rough idea I have so far is to start with some kind of cross-platform desktop application, likely an electron frontend that uses a binary daemon (in Rust? Go?) in the background for the heavy stuff (sync/network/fs/...). We could use alternatives but this is the general direction I've been thinking along. Once we have things running well, we might want to pivot into things like phone clients (React Native?) and such.


If we proceed along these lines, we'd need folks proficient in frontend, networks (and other low-level stuff probably) and possibly standards work.


Pravina Thu 29 Apr 2021 3:27PM

I enjoy this idea, seems like there's a lot that can be done here. There may be a few more tools in the FOSS space to look at - Owncloud / Nextcloud maybe? Getting together a highlight of what exists, and a plan of attack on what value we'd be adding in concrete terms would be a good idea.


Ujjwal Sharma Thu 29 Apr 2021 4:31PM

Thanks! I'd love to scope out the current FOSS space further. The Owncloud / Nextcloud component is the server-side solution that I was thinking not to focus on (folks could host nextcloud, buy fastmail or use their hosted work email, whatever they prefer) and keep focusing on the client-side of the problem.


Liam Egan Thu 29 Apr 2021 6:14PM

I like this idea a lot. You mentioned in another comment that the focus could be on the frontend/clients, rather than the backend/server, which I think is also a good idea.

One idea I've seen a lot in other areas is that when you want to not attack a problem space, leaving it in the open for users to figure out can be good, but sometimes it can be more beneficial to provide clear integration points; i.e. here's the boundary where you can hook the service up to your own server, ownCloud, whatever, and some docs to do so. That bridges the gap between "basically non-functional" and "locked-in walled garden"


Ujjwal Sharma Thu 29 Apr 2021 8:16PM

Absolutely! Thanks.


Kat Marchán (they/she) Thu 29 Apr 2021 6:55PM

just gonna put this out there, but if this is what we do, I can definitely not participate because it falls outside of the moonlighting policy for MSFT :)


Woozalia Hypertwin Sat 1 May 2021 6:52PM

My partner (Harena) is always lamenting the lack of any modern replacement for Eudora, and we've had to jump through considerable hoops just to keep hers (installed on Win98 in VirtualBox) going -- including me providing an alternate POP3 client that still supports a deprecated SSL version.

I used to do some fairly involved desktop app work 20+ years ago; I need to get back up to speed with a modern IDE. I do have some understanding of the protocols and such, but haven't yet dug into coding with them.


Ujjwal Sharma Sat 1 May 2021 6:58PM

Your partner seems to be in the same boat as I am, although my "Eudora" is still relatively new (Thunderbird). Also your experience sounds awesome! I've been working with the folks at IETF on the relevant standards more recently so I'm fairly new but getting there... However, I doubt we'll need to get so deep into it, atleast in the early stages...