15.1 Chandler: RDF Within an Open Source PIM

Chandler is a product resulting from an unusual project, managed through the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF), founded by Mitch Kapor. If that name doesn't ring any bells, Mitch founded Lotus Development Corporation and created Lotus 1-2-3.

As of this writing, Chandler is in the design stage, a process that's quite open. For more information, access the OSAF main web page at http://osafoundation.org. A Wiki has been set up to handle external contributions to the design at http://wiki.osafoundation.org/bin/view/Main/WikiHome.

Chandler is a personal information management (PIM) application, being designed in the open, based on open source technologies and specifications including RDF and RDF/XML.

OSA incorporates RDF into its architecture in two places. The first is an import/export mechanism allowing import and export of data from Chandler into RDF/XML. The hope is that this functionality allows Chandler to incorporate data from other sources more easily; data sources such as FOAF, described in Chapter 14, would be a natural candidate for information in a PIM.

In addition, according to the technology overview of the product, Chandler's own data model will support RDF Schema semantics, which means that the data conforms to all of the semantics defined by the RDF specification, including the very basic concept of triple. According to the Chandler Architecture document, OSAF decided on RDF:

...because of its ability to describe data in a very flexible format and exchange semantic information between applications in a standard format without loss. Because RDF is a World Wide Web Consortium standard, we hope to gain benefit from the existing tools, validators and applications that have been developed or will be developed.

The group is also focusing on a Python object-based data store based on ZODB, the Zope database (at http://www.zope.org/Products/StandaloneZODB). Rather than the more traditional approach of storing RDF in the form of triples, the Chandler development team is pursuing a possible mapping between RDF and the object classes supported in ZODB. There originally was an interest in a mapping between Zope and RDF (at http://www.zope.org/Resources/Mozilla/Projects/RDFSupport/), but there hasn't been any activity on this for several months. Whether Chandler will rekindle activity in a mapping between Zope, ZODB, and RDF should become more apparent as progress on Chandler continues.

At this time, Chandler is in the planning/design/early implementation stages. To follow the progress of this product, you can subscribe to or view the archives of the OSA mailing lists at http://osafoundation.org/mailing_lists.htm, in addition to accessing the main web site and the Wiki.