Bachelor thesis on REST and groupware standards
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Bachelor Thesis: Development of a rest API for Kolab

Kolab is a free software groupware system utilizing a PHP web frontend (Horde). A RESTful API is missing so far and should be developed in this bachelor thesis. Several media types should be supported:

  • vCard is the most widespread format for contacts
  • portablecontacts is a JSON format that got integrated into opensocial
  • XHTML is primarily meant to be used by humans and can contain arbitrary data. It should be investigated how this view could be enriched with micro data to be parsed by machines.

Beside the implementation the work should investigate, which components of the draft could be shared or reused for the support of different media types. Furthermore the support for hypermedia of the different formats should be researched: How much does a client need to know beforehand and what can be discovared through hyper links?

Optional extensions:

  • CardDAV as an alternativ protocol with research of the reusability of components
  • Examination of calendaring media types and their support for hypermedia
  • read access to calendar data over the REST API

Personal Motivation

Using free software in a large organization is often hindered by the lack of a satisfying free alternative to Microsoft Exchange. Several free software groupware systems exists, but synchronization between groupware servers, desktop clients and mobile devices is still a problem.

In my thesis I want to explore the possibilities of recent standard developments regarding the representation of calendaring and contact informations (xCal, xCard), their exchange (CalWS-ReST, portable contacts, open social) and the adequacy of ReST principles and HTTP as a base for groupware communication.

As concrete groupware projects I want to investigate Kolab and Bedework. Both projects have very interesting and diverse properties. Bedework aims for compliance with standards and developers of bedeworks also participate in standard bodies. It is written in Java, a type safe language suitable for large projects.

Kolab has a very pragmatic appproach in that it tries to reuse existing free software projects as much as possible. Therefor Kolab itself is more a repository of glue code and a knowledge base of how to configure and combine OpenLDAP, Cyrus (IMAP server), Postfix (Mail transfer agent) and other components. Kolab however has developed its own file format and only recently started to discuss the adoption of the new xCal and xCard formats.

Kolab is also special because it uses an IMAP server as the data store and synchronization protocol for calendar and contact informations. I want to compare this approach to a restful one.

I want to see, which (preferable JVM based) libraries and frameworks already exists to implement groupware systems to conform to the proposed standards, which parts are missing and to contribute to the implementation of the missing parts.

Some of the candidates for evaluation:

The current state of the thesis is available as PDF, HTML (single page) and HTML (multi page).