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Open source identity: Horde lead developer Jan Schneider

Lesser known business suite contains wealth of applications

Horde lead developer and release manager Jan Schneider

Horde lead developer and release manager Jan Schneider

We currently have over 50 applications of varying degrees of stability in our stock. We just released first stable releases of our ticket tracking system and a time tracker tool, and we are preparing releases of a photo gallery and wiki system. But even the applications that are still in development are used on a daily basis on a lot of production sites and intranets. Those cover Web site tools, office applications, Web 2.0 modules and developer tools, like a forum, a shop, a file browser, a video community, and a spreadsheet, to only name a few.

I think the combination of available applications and the possibility to create your own stuff quickly makes Horde attractive. You don't have to reinvent everything, but you can if you want to, and seamlessly integrate with existing modules. We are in the process of laying out the foundations of the next major version, Horde 4. So this a good point for developer to jump on the bandwagon and have influence on future directions of the Horde Application Framework and all the applications we provide.

More recently, the Horde project has release an Ajax-interface Web client for e-mail. Is Ajax something Horde is adopting more of? Which Horde applications can we expect to be more "Ajax-like" and what are the benefits?

Users are demanding this, and it's a great chance for us to finally concentrate more on the "applications" in "Web applications". But this is a lot of work, especially if you don't start from scratch but want to build on the strong foundation that you've built up over the years. That's what we did with the Web mail client. It has a fresh, modern interface, but under the hood works code that has matured over the last 10 years.

We are currently working on an “ajax-ified” version of our calendar client Kronolith, and I see the address book Turba as a good candidate next. Since this a lot of work though, it's hard to do this in reasonable time without external foundations, so we are really happy to have partners like SAPO that sponsor such development.

Another recent development is the packaging of Horde applications into a groupware suite and portal. Has this helped Horde gain users? And will it be extended to include some of the other applications like the wiki?

Absolutely. Gaining more momentum as a groupware solution and making the installation process easier were the two driving forces to create the groupware suites. And we are more than happy that we succeeded with both goals. The Web mail groupware suite is our most downloaded package today and has gained us a lot of new users, especially in the small and medium size businesses.

These suites seem to have become kind of showcases for us, since many people didn't know which functionality Horde provided before those. New Horde users are often surprised that the applications that build up our groupware suites have been released for many years.

Our plan is to provide more of such bundles in the future. We haven’t made any final decisions yet, but most probably there will be bundles for CRM, software development (like Trac), and secondarily a business-office bundle, and one for Web 2.0 community sites.

What are the main initiatives you have planned for Horde as we approach the end of 2008 and start 2009? What would you like to see happen to make Horde "jump up and be counted" so to speak among open source software?

The two most important projects for the coming weeks and months are the Ajax calendar client and the Horde 4 development, the latter also implies a lot of structural changes in the development process.

We hope that this is not only exciting for us, but also attracts more developers so we can further enhance the functionality of our open source applications and improve the commercial support for paying clients.

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