02 Apr 2013 - Münster (by Dominik)

Don't let your data get trapped in a silo!

You might have heard that Google is killing Google Reader. For those of you relying on it for personal usage or as developers building software on top of it, that is devastating news.

Unfortunately it is much worse than that.

What else is Google killing?

Google has been quite busy discontinuing products and technologies in the last couple of months. It all started in late 2012, when they announced that they'll shutdown their ActiveSync and SyncML APIs.

ActiveSync and SyncML are both technologies for the synchronization of personal data, such as contacts and calendars.

Why does that matter?

Both ActiveSync (a propitiary technology, developed by Microsoft) and SyncML (a bit outdated cross-platform synchronization technology) are tools that allowed you to access and modify your data with your devices and applications. So if you wanted to have your contacts and calendars on your phone and your computer, these technologies were your friend.

Ok, got it. Can it get any worse than that?

Unfortunately: Yes, quite a bit!

Just a few days ago, Google also pulled the plug on their CalDAV API.

CalDAV, what?

CalDAV is a modern technology and official IETF standard solving the pain of cross-platform synchronization of calendars and todo-list. CalConnect, a consortium consisting of vendors, developers and researchers plays a crucial role in the further development and the interoperability among different vendors. Or easier: Their goal is that a device or application advertising CalDAV support actually works with everything else that is CalDAV compliant.

But Google is shutting down CalDAV, right?

Exactly. They are gradually phasing it out. Developers were able to apply for a stamp of approval (which Google may revoke at any time) to continue using it, but new developers will only be able to interact with calendar data via the propriatory Google Calendar API.

Your calendar ends up trapped in a data silo.

This not only limits your freedom to do whatever you want with your data, it also limits your productivity.

Especially open source developers will have a hard time to integrate with propriatory Google-only APIs, so you will have less choice of awesome tools to help you with your tasks. Device and application vendors will have to waste additional resources on implementing specifically with Google, instead of working on great features you'd actually benefit from. And lastly, whenever Google as the gatekeeper of the propriatory Google Calendar API changes its mind, your device or your application might no longer be able to access your stuff.

Google is stepping away from open standards.

Instead of openess the new strategy seems to be: Completely lock users into the system. This is not only happening for calendaring, they are also crippling XMPP/Jabber (a great open standard that allows you to chat with people that use different providers). The functionality that allows this distributed communication called "federation" has also been limited quite a bit recently.

Google certainly has the right to shut stuff down, but discontinuing open standards in favor of Google-only APIs seems to be a very bad approach - it's certainly not in the best interest of its users.

How is fruux different?

We're committed to open standards and your freedom Open standards are at the core of what we believe and do. We want our users to have the greatest possible freedom. With open standards such as CardDAV and CalDAV we're making sure that interoperability is not only a marketing claim. Developers are able to integrate with our CardDAV and CalDAV APIs, so their applications will not only work with fruux, but instead with every service that supports these open standards.

Why CardDAV and CalDAV?

You may wonder, why CardDAV and CalDAV are the way to go. The answer is fairly easy: These protocols are the only modern and sophisticated standards out there that allow you to sync your contacts, calendars and tasks between different platforms and an ever growing list of devices and applications. CardDAV and CalDAV adoption is increasing at a fast pace. Just recently BlackBerry started supporting these technologies on the BlackBerry 10 platform and PlayBook OS. Microsoft also just announced that CardDAV and CalDAV support is coming to Windows Phone.

Boldy go way beyond syncing!

Syncing your data between different devices and applications is just the basic functionality. With CardDAV and CalDAV you're able to do so much more, like:

If you haven't tried fruux yet and are looking for a great and free alternative for the soon to be discontinued Google CalDAV sync, give it a spin!

About Dominik

Dominik started fruux back in 2007. He's a lawyer that writes code and has Amazon subscriptions for stuff that normal people buy in the supermarket. Follow him on Twitter or contact him via e-mail.

fruux is a free service that looks after your contacts, calendars and tasks so you don't have to. It makes sure that they are always in sync, no matter which device or operating system you're using. If you've not tried it yet, then why not check us out and let us know what you think! And if you're already using fruux, then we'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. You can also suggest a feature for any upcoming releases or tweet us: @fruux.