Ming the Mechanic:
Chandler

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Chandler2003-11-24 05:37
14 comments
by Flemming Funch

Chandler is an open source project envisioned and spearheaded by Mitch Kapor. A very ambitious and well-funded effort, working on bunch of things that really need doing. At the very first glance it might seem like nothing special, just another e-mail, calendar, to-do list kind of program. But it the way it aims and doing things, and how shared it will be that is interesting. See Roger's overview of places to learn more. Like this Compelling Vision.
With Chandler, users will be able to organize diverse kinds of information for their own convenience -- not the computer's convenience. Chandler will have a rich ability not only to associate and interconnect items, but also to gather and collect related items in a single place creating a context sensitive "view" of many types of data, mixing-and-matching email, mailing lists, instant messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, free-form notes, blogs, web pages, documents, spreadsheets, slide shows, bookmarks, photos, MP3's, and so on (and on). Data in Chandler is stored on repositories on the user's local machine, on others' machines, and on shared resources such as servers.

This is a very different approach from that of today's common PIMs. For example, users can usually only view a given email message in one specific folder, grouped only with other email messages. In the user-centric world of Chandler, the basis of the ‘relatedness’ of items is completely at the users discretion and is merely facilitated, rather than imposed by the software.

Chandler lets the user keep track of lots of concurrent, ongoing activities. Managing activity extending over time requires the ability to collect just the right sets of related items. Too much information and the user the can't find what's relevant. Too little information and the needed item goes missing. This ability to gather relevant information from disparate sources is at the heart of Chandler's design. A Chandler user could, for example, relate a variety of emails, contacts, documents, and calendar events into an ad-hoc collection related to a specific project.

Chandler will provide unified search over all of the user's information, both on her own personal computer(s) and stored in other Chandler repositories across the network. It will allow searches to be saved for re-use.

Chandler will give non-programming users the ability to customize and extend the program in all sorts of ways, for instance, providing ways to automatically manage complex, asynchronous tasks like organizing a meeting and to automatically respond to events as they arise.
I've known for a long time that this is what I would want. Seems obvious. And I've made a few attempts of programming pieces of that, that I've never finished. Nobody else seems to be doing it right. But I bet Chandler will go where it intends to go.


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