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Messages - conrado

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Applications / On the Wiki Engine
« on: June 11, 2007, 01:50:21 pm »
One of the toughest decisions is what Wiki engine should we begin with.

There are many excellent alternatives. Any choice will mean the sacrifice of the exclusive features the others might have.

After some discussion we came to realize that one very important feature for the selected wiki engine should be the existence of a plugins API or, better yet, known extensions.

Yed suggested that we build both the spreadsheets and the presentation apps over the wiki engine. It is an interesting idea, but one that makes this choice very hard.

What are your thoughts on the subject, and which are your candidates?

Feature requests / Re: Word processor or wiki exporting?
« on: June 07, 2007, 05:46:46 pm »
Yes. I get the points and they make a lot of sense. Specially for the same "family" of apps. In this case, we are talking about the "Composing" or "Document creation and edition" applications. Those would include:
  • Word processor
  • Spreadsheet
  • Presentation Program
  • Flowchart
  • Raster image processor

*Taken from the Wikipedia Web Office definition.

Now we have to find that engine... or build it?

I still would like to experiment with an integration at a higher layer. For instance, I think it would be cool to have a blog, and maybe have a "post in blog" button in the menu where you create a document. Then why put a blog on top of the wiki-like engine if we have cool frameworks like WordPress?

Applications / Re: Open Source on-line spreadsheet
« on: June 07, 2007, 05:15:21 pm »
This is what I believe in a very abstract way what the spread sheet should simulate.

The online spread sheet is  broken down to cells
Each cell is like a wiki page with its own history
Each cell like a wiki page can have their own attributes
Operations on cells and combination of cells will be based on the attributes of the cell

Many wikis already have a spreadsheet plugin. A few examples below

But they are not exactly as feature rich as the other (namely editgrid or google spreadsheets) May be because we dont have a FCKspreadsheet  ;)

Ok. Agreed on that definition.

The spreadsheet is a very tough one. Having done a simple "bird-eye view" of the lot (Zimbra still a miss) I am still going with wikicalc. Of course, a formal evaluation would be the way to decide this. That is no small task though  :-\

Architecture / Re: Concern with present architecture/platform
« on: June 07, 2007, 05:08:42 pm »
I guess then the ploy should be to look at existing and pick the best of each and provide a way to run them all together under a single banner. - Is this what you mean?

Or better still take an existing open source project and build on it. (Say Zimbra)

Yes and... I don't know... I'm not sure. The second choice is almost joining the Zimbra team. It could give us a quicker start... But less communities would be involved. I believe that if we achieve the integration and inter-operation of a set of projects developed by different communities we could be greatly empowering the Open Source community in a way that it is not being done at the moment. Zimbra is a company, so I am not sure how many developers it could attract.

With the first approach, we will have all the developers of the other projects "working for opengoo". The sum, I think, will be greater. OpenGoo would provide "the glue" (by means of standards, tools, frameworks and a community) for them to integrate with other projects.

There is a topic created for the kick start of the first approach, suggesting some candidates for integration. The idea is to decide which ones will be going in the first milestone.

Feature requests / Re: Word processor or wiki exporting?
« on: June 07, 2007, 04:44:22 pm »
The trick I have found about the web based office suites is mostly on the user experience end of it. As long as the user finds himself on familiar grounds it is a success.

Agreed. Absolutely.

We can reuse a wiki but in its simplest form with only the following features:
1. History tracking
2. Authentication
3. Simultaneous edits tracking

Excellent. But what do you suggest? Do we use a wiki as "the engine", use FCKEditor and work from there, or start something new from the ground?

This is actually the analysis that have taken us longer, and we still didn't decide which way to go.

One thing I do know: It would be great to always use the same WYSIWYG toolbars. As you said, it would provide a familiar ground in every part of the system.

But I would suggest that we don't get too much drawn into the wiki thing.
The idea here would be to give the user a view with a transparent wiki component to it. Give them the familiar word like view. The only interesting thing would be to make sure that the user gets the to know when and what changes were made and if the document is being use collaboratively then if any simultaneous edits happen the user is dynamically shown the changes being made and a way to recover the edits (with the overwritten)  in case the user would like to keep them.

I think I get the idea, and I agree. I am all for hiding the "Edit as Wiki" mode if that is what you mean (just enable the WYSIWYG). Programmers and Web Designers learn to write in Wiki language very fast, but I am sure it is a tedious task for Joe Average.

I know the above lines can be broken up more neatly. Let me know in case I am not clear above. I am able to give only a small idea with what I have setup, used and observed with the 3 years with PmWiki. And compared it with Google Docs since writely came in. I have received comments from so many that they would prefer a google doc like application than a wiki (which is far more feature rich and extensible). I have been recently toying on an idea of implementing spreadsheets on PmWiki.

That would be neat! But have you tried WikiCalc? Maybe it is a good starting point with many functions already in place. Just a thought. I haven't dug much in this area.

Architecture / Re: Concern with present architecture/platform
« on: June 07, 2007, 03:14:40 pm »
That is the approach that first came to our minds. Then we decided to use JBoss as the platform. We are Java gurus (  :D ok, we know Java).

We could use the JBoss Portal and write portlets for each app. JBoss already has portlets for Wikis, Blogs and Forums.

Then... we might get very popular with the JBoss crew, but everybody else is going to seat there and stare, and all other platform's fanboys will be criticizing and expecting our failure.

We could have used Joomla as a framework. Even WordPress might be a good start (did anybody notice how 37signals' Highrise interface looks a lot like WordPress?)

Plone and Rails are other strong candidates.

We could write YAF (Yet Another Framework).

And then the idea of "the mashup" became slowly a good option. Google is doing it. Microsoft has now popfly (that is why Ignacio brought it up), Yahoo has pipes...

So, OpenGoo could attempt to bring one up. After a lot of thought, I started convincing myself that is not that hard, and there could be huge benefits: We would stand on the shoulders of other communities, having (indirectly, of course) much more support. We would empower other projects, instead of competing with them. Each piece could be easily replaced by a completely different app, over a completely different framework.

The site intends to be a proof of concept. At the time, the main page and the about sections are static html. I used this free template from Solucija to build it. Then I though maybe someone adapted this template for WordPress. Turns out someone did. Now if I get to adapt this template to the forum, the wiki, the spreadsheets... I think that is kind of what Google is doing (adding a couple of orders of complexity magnitude).

Next steps would be to have a single sign on and automate the template transformation to export a simple index, header, sidebar, footer and css to each app, and we already something that looks and acts quite integrated. Unifying contacts information would be next. And then... I don't know, my neurons are aching, plus I have a cold today.

I look forward for your input.

Architecture / About the licensing
« on: June 06, 2007, 03:20:47 pm »
Another tough question that I would have liked to decide by poll.

The 'spirit' is to give all products away in the most 'free' possible way. To be honest, I never completely read none of the licenses specs. I guess it would be one of GPL or BSD, or both. Suggestions are open.

Then there is the issue that we are going to use large chunks of other projects or, most probably, whole projects. I expect some minor troubles with that. For that matter, each project added to the mix should be contacted, asking them if there is any possible issue.

Architecture / About the programming languages
« on: June 06, 2007, 03:12:22 pm »
Wow Yed, that was a very thoughtful comment.

In the older version of the site I had a poll asking which language should we focus on. Unfortunately, the poll did not get many votes. This is the one question that has kept rolling around my head since the first days of OpenGoo.

The languages/platforms that I mostly considered involving OpenGoo were:
  • PHP
  • Python/Plone
  • Ruby/Rails
  • Java/JBoss

Every language and platform has its advantages and disadvantages, and the arguments are never-ending. I have no experience with Ruby, although I would like to. All of the team members are very good with Java, so that is why the little programming we did was made in Java. But we are back in defining the mashup architecture, so no programming is being done at this time.

But, resuming the language issue, bottom line is OpenGoo will not have an official language. That is because the new architecture approach is to build a framework made mostly of standards sets, mashup components, and mashup tools. Each piece can be written in your language of choice. One crazy idea that even crossed my mind was to make various versions of OpenGoo:
  • The PHP OpenGoo
  • The JBoss OpenGoo
  • The Ruby OpenGoo
  • The Zimbra OpenGoo
  • The Plone OpenGoo
  • The Jive OpenGoo

And then you could mix all components, independent of the language. Of course this would take for ever, so right now we are just aiming at one version, selecting each component on its functionality merits, and not by language. Coincidentally, I think most components will be written in PHP, which seems to be the most popular language for OS projects. Note that by 'component' I refer to: 'the wiki' component, 'the blog' component, 'the spreadsheets' component, etc.

So, just like Google and Google Apps don't have an official language (I think Writely was written in .Net and Spreadsheets in Java), OpenGoo doesn't have one.

Applications / Re: Open Source on-line spreadsheet
« on: June 06, 2007, 02:45:28 pm »
Wow, I forgot. Good thing you mentioned it.

I think Marcos and Ignacio did try it. It would be good to learn their opinions.

Zimbra is definitely a sister project we should be following, and maybe trying to work together.

Architecture / Re: OpenSAM
« on: June 06, 2007, 02:42:29 pm »
I mentioned OpenSAM because we came to the conclusion that the best approach for an Open Source (OS) Web Office (OSWOff) is to do a mashup of existing OS projects. Building it from zero (like Zimbra is doing) will take much longer, would take more resources, and would involve a smaller community.

By focusing on a framework to merge existing OS systems we will enable future mergers to be very easy. For instance, we may chose one platform for blogging now (lets say WordPress), but then MovableType becomes much better a year from now, and someone wants to use that platform instead. The idea is to do that with little work, empowering the OpenGoo project and giving more options for the users.

Feature requests / Re: Word processor or wiki exporting?
« on: June 06, 2007, 02:35:35 pm »
Hi yed. Welcome aboard!

It seems you back the idea then. Which OS Wiki and text editor do you think would be best for the merger?

It is true we have OpenOffice that comes handy quite often (It's been over a year now since I last used MS Office). But there is no Wiki->ODF translator. That should be a priority feature for OpenGoo.

Feature requests / Re: Word processor or wiki exporting?
« on: June 05, 2007, 12:08:29 pm »
Mario was asking in this post why should we use a wiki instead of a word processor (WP), and I realized we didn't give too many reasons for the suggested approach.

To be honest, FCKeditor would be my candidate for the Word Processing app, by two main reasons:
  • Features set
  • Recent announcements of Adobe and Oracle support

But then I think reality dictates...

Create content, not design
When working on a company, most of the time you should follow the company guidelines for Document formatting. Font family, style, header size, alignment, etc., should be dictated by the company, and workers should simply adhere to that, and not waste time 'crafting' a document each time they work on it.

If you use a wiki, then you already know it is much faster to create a document than to use a Word processor.

Collaborating needs versioning
The Web Office is about collaborating. And when a single document is the work of a team, you need revision and version history. Most popular Open Source Web (OSW) wikis already deal with that. Word processors don't.

Wikis are, at this stage, more mature than OSW Word processors.

You can embed a WP in a Wiki
Finally, I think that you could embed a Word Processor in a Wiki. Just like adobe is probably doing. Kind of what google does when you are writing an e-mail in gmail. That, I think, is the trend.

Wouldn't it be great to always use the same word processing toolbar, be you writing a blog post, a forum post, an e-mail, or a document? And, depending on the circumstances, you could chose between the complex or the simplified version.

And more
And, as usual, what I am missing. That's why your opinion is important. What arguments have not been discussed?

Applications / Re: Suggested apps for Milestone 1
« on: June 05, 2007, 11:26:04 am »
Hi Mario. Nice to see you around! We should get together to start the ball rolling again! I'll give you a call  ;)

That is a very good question. In fact, there is a post here to discuss the subject. I am very interested in your opinions.

General Discussion / Re: Why OpenGoo
« on: June 04, 2007, 05:47:49 pm »
Excellent contribution Ignacio. Those two are most certainly very good reasons.


Applications / Re: Open Source on-line spreadsheet
« on: June 01, 2007, 01:18:54 am »
After watching this terrific demo I have already made up my mind for the preferred Open Source Spreadsheet.

It is wikicalc. Check it out.

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