froscon06 1.02

FrOSCon 2006
Free and Open Source Software Conference

Mirko Ross
Day 1
Location HS6
Start time 12:00
Duration 01:00
ID 6
Type Lecture
Track Applications
Language english

Next Generation Collaborative Mobile Groupware

The OSS project enables mobile real-time access on server groupware-applications independent of the respective device specification of mobile end devices. framework is based on OSS (GPL) and is free to download and use.The open developping background enables Java programmes to be made portable without much effort.

This lecture will present the goals, concepts and actual developments of the project.

Weblink: - Next Generation Collaborative Mobile Groupware

The project provides an OSS mobile groupware framework. It enables Java-compliant mobile phones / PDAs the access on server-applications and services. The framework is based on open source software (GPL) and is free to download and use.The open developing background enables Java programers to be made portable without much effort. This lecture will present the goals, concepts and actual developments of the Open Source Software community.

Why is necessary? Nowadays mobile Groupware suffers by a couple of technical problems:

  • Synchronisation errors of groupware-data between server and from mobile device to mobile device (popular way done by SyncML): e.g. missing informations or double database entries.
  • Each mobile device provides it's own groupware application.
  • Security problems because groupware data is stored on the mobile devices (therefore take care - don't lose your phone!).
  • Lack of secure service for mobile groupware applications: closed sources and unsecure data transfer (e.g. RIM / Blackberry).
  • No access to real-time collaborative groupware processes (you see a local stored mirror, the sync is just a data update of this mirror.).

[ 1. The goals of ]

Put your Server on the phone! mobile clients allow data processing on the side of the connected 3rd-party groupware-server. User of mobile phones have access to the server-side groupware by using the graphical user-interface of the colamo mobile clients. So real-time communication with mobile online-users through allows the providing of real collaborative groupware-services and mobile multiuser games.

The advantages of

  • All data will be stored and processed on the server not on the the mobile device (if you lose your phone, no data is gone).
  • No synchronistion - the client provides you an user interface to your serverside

Groupware (in fact there are no more side effects like missing or double entries...).

  • Real Time access to calender, appointments, contacts-lists and emails (View the actual calendar, not the stored result of the last sync).
  • Clients always suit on mobile devices (don't care about the technical issues – clients are allways well fitted to your personal mobile device).
  • Rapid deployment of clients to mobile devices (developers can concentrate on general funcionality of their codes using the J2ME-Polish SDK . A pre compiler generates automatically optimal sources for selected devices).

[ 2. The concepts of framework ] abbreviates “collaboration mobile”, the main theme triggering our mission. As collaboration rises associations like groupware, we looked at the ongoings in the telcommunication market. UMTS/EDGE/WLAN and mobile flatrates will change the mobile telecommunication market as fast as DSL changed the useage of the internet. Therefore small devices like mobile phones will be connected in near future to the Internet in a continuous way to reasonable costs and with an absolute sufficient bandwidth.

So approach of synching data between server based groupware solutions and offline clients will be anachronistic!!!

It seems to be much more reasonable to let things base on the online paradigm. Think of mighty applications like ERP products which deliver their interface to your mobile phone – of course they cannot deliver all the data stored in the underlaying database(s) to such a device. But implemented as webservices they can deliver actual views to those small devices based on the “online paradigm”.

A simple clue but not a simple task to do.

First we checked out the technological platforms we could base on. Java in its different flavours came to our mind first and stuck there. The Java Micro Edition (J2ME) promises a lot – a device independent, fast-to-learn, widely supported framework. Unfortunatly, whilst we tested the real world facts about J2ME it became quite clear that there's a showstopping gap between theory and practice. But fortunatly we initiated as an open source project. So we asked the free software community about its answer to the discovered problem. And there is more than one. Finally we decided to establish a friendship to the j2mepolish project, which offers an excellent and lively solution to the dependencequest.

So the mobile groupware nowadays consists of Tomcat, running Enterprise Java Beans on it, talking to exchange4linux in the backoffice via SWAP (Simple Workgroup Access Protocol) and connecting to a J2ME based mobile client using the colamo-protocol "COP". The „COP“ Protocol measures (transparently) the needs of wireless connections: a small memory footprint, convincing security implementation, handling of low quality connections and reduced complexity. COP uses simply TCP/http and is fitted with an end-to-end encryption between the mobile device and the server.

The idea of basically shows up as a distributed software model where the application is executed on the mobile device, asking the server for data and data processing, whilst all connection handling runs in background. As HTTP is the least common denominator provided by J2ME, and connection handling is a tricky task.

[ 3. Goals of the community ] community consist of a strong group of free J2EE/J2ME-developers, Software-Companies and Universities. Tender bonds have been knitted to the communities of and exchange4linux. We are looking forward to spread our mission and to grow the community.

Efforts of the colamo project are now in the focus of mobile device companies. Therefore benQ mobile decided to support by contributing informations and latest mobile devices hardware. We would like to welcome the support of more mobile business companies.

So what else will be done? moves ahead and the main goal of our community roadmap is the stable release of alpha-plattform at the end of this year.