Groove orphaned

by Volker Weber

Chad Dickerson of InfoWorld:

It would be great if Santa could have his elves port Groove Workspace to Mac OS X. I finally saw the light with OS X, but as I migrate my applications over from Windows XP, Groove sits orphaned outside of OS X, peering in from Virtual PC with its nose pressed against the OS X window, longing for the warmth inside. I really like Groove, but it's a second-class citizen within my new environment, so I have a feeling I won't use it as much in OS X. That's too bad.

Richard Eckel picks up from there on the Groove company weblog (sans comments) and quotes the old Ozzie interview:

Steve Gillmor: How's the Mac version coming?

Ray Ozzie: [laughs] The Mac version is great. I am so happy that Microsoft bought Connectix.

That would be one complete virtual Windows machine for running one application. He goes on saying:

Steve brought iTunes to Windows. How about bringing Groove Workspace to OS X?

What am I missing here? Is Richard really trying to say that Apple should bring Groove to the Mac? Or is he asking whether Groove should do it? While the company is sold on .Net and busy rewriting the client again for version 3. Ah, and please explain once more, why it is a great idea to run web services at the edge.

Chad, trust me: You won't use it at all. It has been weeks since I last loaded up Groove.


and then there is Andy's, which allows you to run Groove as a Thin Client Service over the browser or with a small Citrix app, regardless of the used OS.
But I agree with Volker, you won't miss Groove much. After ignoring Groove for months, I used it to share info with Andy on a project in October, since then it sits idle again and I wonder if I should get all the data into Notes for backup/archive...

Moritz Schroeder, 2003-12-16

I wanted to meet with Andy when in London but it was somehow not enough time for me to squeeze everything into this short trip. Maybe if I talked to him I would have got it. But from the distance this looks like the worst of both worlds. A closed system that only runs on a server.

Volker Weber, 2003-12-16

Permalinks on the Groove company weblog are currently broken. I just found out this is a minor defect. The permalink is there but it misses one trailing slash. So it tries to go there but the page gets reloaded to this url when you use it. This however would work.

Volker Weber, 2003-12-16

I've used Groove a few times. I must confess, I didn't find it particularly compelling. It offers me nothing over tools already out there, and the creators' continued arrogrance with regards moving it beyond the cosseted Windoze world just adds to the "dead end" effect.

There are some nifty things in Groove, it's just a shame very few will see them, especially with the app coming from someone like Ray Ozzie. As for using it via Citrix... mmkay.

Ben Poole, 2003-12-17

Crossing the line here (given my past history with the firm) ... IMHO, Groove will never be on any platform other than Windoze for reasons that have on the one hand nothing to do with technology and on the other hand everything to do with technology.

The x-platform positives: adoption of xml storage/standards (but unfortunately proprietary and do not interoperate with the stuff from the borg); adoption of web-services (but unfortunately semi-proprietary and useless as a server at-the-edge behind a firewall is what?); adoption/evangelism of binding markup (declarative UI) and behavior in xml format (pre-XUL/XAML) -- but dependence on proprietary custom ATL/COM under the covers to actually assemble/render; voodoo security (meant to be pluggable but, seriously, who would do this?); end-to-end VPN (sort of) tunneling to build distributed dataflow applications...

The x-platform negatives: bizarro, groove-centric xml element management/storage (not surprising given Notes heritage); proprietary xml document store; outright refusal to consider xml schemas as interfaces/interface contracts -- if you can't speak to us with COM ... you can't speak to us; COM/ATL implementation; obfuscation of threading and thread management (making integration with enterprise systems difficult at best); completely custom UI components that are utterly dependent upon underlying w32 controls and not useable outside of the Groove process -- forcing a roll-your-own UI if you actually want to/need to use GWS; UI design point that, at times, seems like notes on psylocyben and ... oh yeah ... god knows how much investment by the borg.

Then of course there's the we're a platform, no we're an app, no we're a platform, no we're an app, no we're infrastructure, no we're an app ... schizophrenia.

Andy is a great guy: absolutely make the time to connect with him next time in the UK. So is Jeroen and Tim (Netherlands), Ashok (in India, occasionally in Germany), Mark Smith (Scotland), Forrest (RIP, my regards), etc. We (collectively) hung it all out there for quite some time ... but the market never developed to support a vibrant developer community. I find myself being pulled back towards (yikes!) Domino/WebSphere by my most recent engagements. That said, I've got some stuff in private beta as I type that extends Groove via GWS. But it also extends other messaging and storage systems.

Said too much...

phil, 2003-12-17

Interminable cross-platform Groove debate aside, I've fixed the permalinks. Thanks for the tip :)

Jeff Chausse, 2003-12-17

Same for me - I was excited when Groove 1.0 came out and dropped the Notes Infrastructure we were using in our small company immediately. Groove did exactly what it was supposed to do - sharing information across a distributed organisation.

The last months however, I have hardly used it anymore. Aside from the technical details that Phil outlined above: It's just to big & too slow. Ever since I removed it from my windows startup folder, my machine has become quite a bit snappier again.

I use it once a month now when I bill. My correspondence is stored in a private Groove space that I share with myself. (Distributed Backup)

The old company has reverted to using Mailing-lists to communicate. The new company.... well... hmm - is building something different

Volker: You use the term "closed" with reference to a server service: however, imho, the opposite is true. That is part of the beauty of groove-on-popg. The fact is that PopG (Windows) users get the best of both worlds with absolutely seamless integration of sbc and p2p technologies. Yes it was a shame not to meet up - some other time, definitely.

Moritz: Thanks for the plug, though considering Lotus for backup seems a bit out-of-touch, since Groove has one hell of a backup solution in the EIS add-on.

Ben: So the toolset in groove "adds nothing", hmm. How many places can you get multi-user in-cell editing in Excel (GXcel)? There are some really great tools coming out right now. I agree the basic tools are "basic", good but basic. But that is not where groove is at right now.

Phil: Absooutely great to hear from you again. Agreed, that the Groove developer marketplace has not developed the way some had expected, and agreed that inherent egos and attitudes to technology and business in some high places have both helped put the foot on the brakes rather than the accelerator. But if you take the well-placed cynisicm (spelling was never my strong point, sorry) that these pages purport with a pinch of salt, then you will see that there are some very good signs.

However the fundamental Groove tool developer problem is little to do with technology - it is to do with the original business proposition. "Sell 'em cheap, and by the bucket load" has failed because Groove operates is a very sophisticated high-tech "e-collaboration" market. Come on, what %age of Notes users actually rolled it out as a glorified e-mail client? 95, 99% perhaps? If nothing else, learn one lesson from that - the e-collab marketplace is small and specialised. So the only tenable business model is high-value, low-volume. And that is the opposite of what many of the dissatisfied ex-tool developer community hoped-for and expected, almost as their birth-right.

To close, I consider one of the best success stories of Groove is the fact that for a year or perhaps two there was NO email client interface. And even now the default Outlook-Groove integration has a long way to go... Why was it a success? It meant that in those heady days of "How many users can Groove cope with" back in Decemeber 2001(?) the focus was on pure e-collaboration, 100%. 100% success as opposed to the 95% failure of Notes.

Andy Swarbrick, 2003-12-18

Andy, let me explain "closed": Closed as in proprietary, undocumented, private schemas and protocols. Closed as in closed shop - not running this particular client -SOL. Closed as in self-centered - no notifications of events other than to its own clients.

If there is one participant in the collaboration group that does not run Windows or cannot install Groove because of company policy, Groove fails 100%. This is the one bad thing.

Now we could run this on a server that I access via a terminal service. So I get no notifications at all because of the closed nature of the particular solution and the files are not even sitting in my realm. That is the other bad thing.

I might as well use Quickplace. I can set up a new user in 2 minutes flat. Anybody that can use Mozilla or IE. Licensing issues? I can set up a new wiki faster than a new Groove client.

Volker Weber, 2003-12-18

How many places can you get multi-user in-cell editing in Excel (GXcel)?

Wow ;-) It adds nothing. For me. YMMV. But frankly, any company that says this:

Interminable cross-platform Groove debate aside...

... has already blown it as far as I - and many others - am concerned; it's obvious what they thing of the whole Groove-on-something-other-than-Windoze-puleeze debate. Groove's been around a long time. I don't believe it's done anything earth-shattering yet. Sorry.

Ben Poole, 2003-12-18

Jeff does not speak for Groove. He speaks for himself. Jeff does web sites, not Groove Workspace.

Volker Weber, 2003-12-18

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