The Haiku Social Desktop (and Buddycloud)


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KDE is trying, Gnome is trying. Haiku is already half way there without really trying, though you have to look a bit closer to find what they have done at all.

Social Media integration is what the cool kids are working on at the moment not only on the Web, but in any and every place you could concieve wedging a "like" or status update. Social media is showing itself to be an increasingly pervasive part of modern life. It's gotten so big that I have gone from ignoring it, playing with it, using it... to requiring it. I'm sure this pattern is likely the same as the advance of computers in society (I'm too young to have known the pre-personal-computer society).

KDE started social media integration quite a while ago and are increasingly making it part of their desktop environment as part of their strategy to stay relevant to users as they become increasingly web-app oriented. Gnome appears to be taking a very vague approach to integration via Zeitgeist/Activity Journal from what I gather. Android has the components which together are sometimes used to create excellent Social Network integration depending on the vendor of your device. Haiku... well it has nothing that would be immediately recognised as social media integration.

The Haiku project has had a lot of other more pressing work on their heads such as hardware compatbility, package mangement and wireless networking and have not paid too much attention to social media integration. That is not to say that they have not begun to address social media. There have been some efforts over the past few years to provide integrated social network support Instant Messaging Kit and general application support for things such as Twitter with features such as syncing messages and contacts to BFS/People files as to provide query support. All Haiku needs to do is to take these features a little bit further and add a little polish an excellent and completely integrated Social Desktop will emerge.

What does Buddycloud have to do with this? Buddycloud is a solid Social Networking platform based on well established, flexible and open technologies. It's also federated, which is awesome.

  • XMPP - Mature, flexible, federated and extremely extensible messaging and pesence protocol, based on XML. No voodoo needed to start producing, serving and syncing messages and states. Can even do audio/video (XEP-0166) and discovery . Buddycloud is made up by open-ended combination of many functions and XMPP readily fits this task. The Buddycloud Channel-Server (the core component) is an XMPP extension.
  • Atom - fits the nature of content description. Easily parsed.
  • ActivityStreams - an already widely accepted activity description format. Activities are important in that they allow individuals to process the latest news of people and things they care about. This is already used by Facebook, Twitter(?) and Windows Live.
  • PubSub - a messaging pattern that allows subscribers to easily follow content they're intrested in. Already used widely. Buddycloud's Channel-Directory provides a PubSub search engine to help users find content.

You might have noticed that the formats and protocols are very open and that there is very little munging of formats as everything is already in an appropriate, flexible and open format. There has been some work done in the 2011 GSOC by a person called Barrett on the Contacts Kit and the Services Kit. Barrett's work allows contacts to be pulled from various sources (local and web) so that they are accessible on the system via People files and Queries. Having this data seamlessly presented to application developers allows pervasive integration -- Haiku is all about seamless integration!

Seamless integration of contacts into Haiku allows the Contacts Kit to potentially recognise groups of people who are are potentially spread across multiple networks, and allow users to target or confine the publishing of content.  Messages (Tweets/Dents, statuses, posts etc.) can be treated the same way as emails currently are under Haiku which means that you can effectively filter, sort, archive and even publish all your social networking data locally.

Integrating Social Networks into Haiku allows for generic applications to be created that could provide a central configuration and publishing point for social media to multiple social networks.

So with Services and Contacts kits both coming along nicely, the built-in features of Haiku and the philosophy of application design inherited from BeOS (think Unix philosophy but for graphical applications) we have the makings of a great Social Desktop. We also have a great open Social Networking platform (Buddycloud) to give such features a purpose and generic base.

I think I know what my next set of holidays are going to be spent doing.

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