GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkZimbra Is Getting Press For Bringing Lotus Agenda Features To Email
10:57:53 PM

Zimbra, which previously got attention merely for the fact that it is an AJAX-based mail client -- or should I say yet another AJAX-based mail client, given that both Lotus and Microsoft have had them for a few years now -- is now getting more press for "providing contextual links to corporate data". The example given is this: "when we sent an e-mail message including phrases such as "next Friday" or "Jan. 13," these phrases in the recipient's e-mail message become links. The alt-tag information associated with the link (which appears when the cursor hovers over the link) displays availability information from the recipient's calendar.".

It was sometime in the late 80s that a fellow named Zyg Furmaniuk, whom I had known earlier when we both worked at Wang Labs, showed me Lotus Agenda. Amongst its many truly unique -- especially for its time -- features was its ability to analyze free-form text, pull out phrases like "next week" or "the day after Thanksgiving" and use them to index and cross-reference data. It didn't turn the text into hyperlinks -- or at least I don't remember that it did -- but I've always wondered why Agenda's text analysis capability never made it into Notes and Domino. With the appropriate programmability hooks, it could open the doors to some really interesting applications, and extend the power of many existing applications.

If Zimbra starts to make an impact with this feature, perhaps IBM will dig deep down into the archives and dust off some of that code.

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Comments :v

1. Dan Sickles01/29/2006 12:35:54 AM

And Mitch Kapor is working on chandler:

The current release is 0.6. As a former Agenda user, python programmer and daytime Notes guy, I'd like to see this get to 1.0 but the glacial pace of development is frustrating in these "concept to release in 6 months or die" times.

2. Carl Tyler01/29/2006 09:11:00 AM

When I was at Lotus I constantly asked for a function like @dates that could analyze a rich text field and do Agenda like analysis to give me all the dates mentioned. Never got it. The reason I was always given for not reusing Agenda code was they were not totally sure who owned it. I personally am not sure I believe that, perhaps they have just lost the code...

A trully great product, that when killed alienated Lotus from many a CIO. Prince Charles even used it as we had to fix his corrupt agenda file one time.

3. Jerry Glover01/29/2006 04:58:00 PM

I seem to recall a Notes add-in from the late v3 days (maybe v4) that did the same sort of things. I wonder if my semi-vast archives have something about that somewhere.

4. Carl Tyler01/29/2006 05:19:47 PM

@3 there was a 3rd party tool. It shipped with R5. Would allow you take what was on the clipboard and create a calendar appointment figuring out the date etc. Can't recall the name though.

5. Gab Davis01/29/2006 07:47:06 PM

Agenda was a fantastic product - was it based on the Metro engine? I regularly consider writing myself code to emulate what it did in Notes and got very overexcited in the innovations lab at LS when I thought I saw an Agenda type development - sadly up close it turned out to be something completely unrelated

Oh for the days of typing "Meeting on Enigma with Rich next Tuesday" and have it automatically categorised under the correct date, under the "Enigma" project and under "Richard Schwartz" it could be done in Notes I just wish it was.

6. Joe Litton01/29/2006 08:37:16 PM

MAN! I loved Agenda. I used it to manage a year-long project developing a voice response application in the early 90's. There were so many people and concepts that were new to me (it was the first time I'd used a mouse, a GUI - which was Presentation Manager in OS/2, C, Smalltalk, phone switches, and on and on the various players at various levels in our organization and that of the IVR vendor) ....and Agenda let me manage all that disparate information! I suppose today I would cobble together some version of a discussion db, but Agenda was *perfect* for that task! *sigh*

7. Carl Tyler01/30/2006 12:09:30 AM

Actioneer was the product that shipped with R5 I think.

By the way, last time I checked Agenda was still downloadable from the Lotus FTP site, I will see if I can find the url.

8. Carl Tyler01/30/2006 12:38:05 AM

Agenda 2 can be found here...

9. Bob01/30/2006 03:33:03 AM

There was an article on Agenda in CACM back in 1990. ( written by by Mitch, Jerry Kaplan, Ed Belove, Todd Drake and Rich Landsman.

As I recall Todd was working on a Windows version of Agenda (can't recall the codename) but the project was killed.

10. Nathan T. Freeman01/30/2006 04:55:11 AM

How difficult is this sort of language parsing? Richard Davis did this stuff back in Notes 4 via LS. I've seen many primitive implementations of it in Notes.

11. Todd05/17/2006 02:42:56 PM

The Agenda data parsing code was written internally (not licensed), and actually used YACC and a fairly twisted grammar to generate an internal representation [subtypes of a base class depending on recurrence, etc].

Doing it in YACC made translation in German [say] "possible". Not super fun, but not un-amusing.


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