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Re: OT: An Open Call to Developers

On (21/09/03 08:59), Kent West wrote:
> I'm one of seven Technical Support staff persons at a private 
> university. My team supports the staff and faculty on campus. Another 
> branch of my department serves the students, and is composed of 
> students. We are separate from the server administrators and 
> programmers, and have little influence over the final decision of what 
> campus-wide apps (email system, database, etc) get implemented.
> Up until five years or so ago the campus officially supported Netscape 
> only as the campus standard web browser. Gradually, with me 
> stiff-necking it all the way, Internet Explorer became the dominant 
> browser used and supported. Now with Netscape development essentially 
> being dropped by AOL, and with the bosses not understanding that Mozilla 
> _is_ Netscape, there's rumblings of IE becoming the only browser on campus.
> Also over the years, Eudora has been the only supported email client. 
> We've had pressure to support Outlook for email, but again, with 
> resistance by me and some of my co-workers, we've avoided allowing that 
> as a supported email client. Now the tide has turned and we've been 
> tasked with support for Outlook also, but only with the client; no 
> Exchange back-end.
> Also over the years, Schedule+ has been the only supported calendar 
> application. From a user's standpoint, it's quite adequate, but it's 
> gotten harder and harder to keep running since Microsoft has been using 
> various tactics to get people to switch to Outlook/Exchange calendaring. 
> This past summer the campus switched to Sun One Calendar Express 
> (formerly iPlanet) as our calendaring solution. It's web-based, and 
> works fairly well. But since it doesn't have pop-up reminders of 
> appointments, the staff/faculty are clamoring for a front-end that 
> provides an easier interface and pop-up reminders. We thought about 
> putting Palm Desktop in place for everyone, which in conjunction with a 
> tool from Sun will synchronize with the back-end calendar, but after 
> reading the license we can only do that for people who have a Palm 
> device. So we've started using Outlook as the front-end. It also can 
> synch with the back-end by using a tool from Sun. Both Palm Desktop and 
> Outlook must be manually synched, which is going to wind up causing 
> missed appointments. Neither app allows Jane Secretary to see her 
> calendar and Joe Boss's calendar at the same time, since these two apps 
> are inherently single calendar user only. (Outlook's calendar sharing 
> requires Exchange or something equivalent on the back-end.) Jane 
> Secretary must use the web interface to work with multiple calendars at 
> once.
> I've found a "Development Plan" document on the web pages of the Mozilla 
> Calendar project. If I understand properly, Moz Calendar will at some 
> day be able to be a front-end for Sun One Calendar Express, and with the 
> subscription feature, could very well provide Jane Secretary with the 
> ability to open multiple calendars at once. This would be a 
> _tremendously_ wonderful thing on campus.
> If the Jane Secretarys of the campus suddenly found Mozilla Calendar to 
> be more useful than the web calendar or Outlook or Palm Desktop, they'd 
> immediately start using it. From there, it'd be a cinch to get them to 
> use Moz as a web browser, and probably as an email client (IMAP mode). 
> My life would get sweet. Our server admins and programmers would start 
> having to code our web site and tools and server backends (Banner 
> database system is the big one, with a native Windows client, a Java 
> client, and a web client) to be friendly toward not just Internet 
> Explorer, but also Moz, and perhaps by extension other non-IE browsers, 
> such as Safari. The domination by Microsoft of both the internet and the 
> desktop would be chipped away a little bit by my corner of the world. My 
> corner of the world would be that much closer to a smooth and easy 
> transition away from Microsoft Windows, preferably to Linux, although 
> I'd be happy with OS/X at this point.
> But, the only way all these wonderful things are going to happen is if 
> the Mozilla Calendar project can deliver the goods. I can't code a 
> "Hello, World!" program without an example right in front of me, so I'm 
> not able to add any programming help to the project. But I figure there 
> are developers on this list that are just itching to make a difference 
> in the world. If that's the case, I'd like to encourage you to look into 
> helping out with the Moz Calendar project. I'm assuming the project lead 
> people could use help; I may just be making noise; they may not want any 
> outside help. But you developers know better how to go about learning 
> what's needed than I do, so I'm making my appeal here, amongst some of 
> the highest quality computer literate folk I know of.

A brief note in support.  We have clients running MS Outlook (different
versions); it, and the security updates issued for it seem to break
their systems from time to time.  We would love to move them to open
source software but the lack of this functionality in debian is a
significant obstacle (not the only one).



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