April 12, 2002

What are our goals in GNU Bayonne?

From David Sugar: Now that we are close to the 1.0 release of GNU Bayonne, it seemed a good time to discuss what my vision and goals are looking forward. We have seen Bayonne become part of the GNU project, and form associations with a number of other projects including GNU Enterprise, and even DotGNU thru phpGroupWare. We have also seen the rise of activity of GNUCOMM, a project for which provides a broader context for understanding what we are doing in Telephony, specifically in regards to Free Software. These are related to our long term goals and strategies, and I will address these questions by describing what we wish to do, especially in the broader context of these other projects.

One goal we envision is the creation of a universal inbox service where one can receive all one's correspondence, whether it is fax, email, video, or voice. To have universal messaging requires interchangable media, whether this means transforming written email to voice messaging, or other forms as needed by the user based on circumstances of the user's choosing on demand and unversally available.

To achieve universal inbox we also require universal and ubiquitous voice services that can be used anywhere. Ubiquitous data already exists; data can be transported over virtually any media, and we have a universal set of open and interoperable protocols universally accessible and implementable. We wish to achieve this same level of ubiquity for voice, whether it is transported over circuit switched networks such as the traditional phone system, broadcast over radio or thru cellular, or delivered as packetized data.

Universal voice means more than just messaging. It means personalized voice agents that can contact a universal client using free and open protocols, whether it is a soft phone, a cellular phone, or a land line. It means voice driven personalized assistances that can perform useful daily functions on your behalf and that can interact in the media we humans are most comfortable with using.

Part of what we envision in universal inbox messaging and personalized voice assistants clearly belongs in the domain of existing projects such as phpGroupWare or Jabber, and certainly plays a core role in anyenterprise. Parts of it can touch many things, including email clients and servers, softphone development, instant messaging, and many other areas of active development. Our goal is to leave none of these untouched and to draw all of these ideas together starting with a more universal approach to the client, perhaps starting by melding softphone and instant messaging into a single entity, and later merging the result into email clients. In fact, the question of a universal softphone/instant message client was one of the starting points for the GNU ccRTP softphone effort.

Universal inbox, personalized and universal voice response, collaborative media independent communications, these are all goals stated within the broader context of GNUCOMM, and envisioned in other broad projects as well. What do these have to do with GNU Bayonne specifically?

To understand GNU Bayonne in the context of these goals, one has to understand how fundamentally I develop. To create something larger, I start by creating something small as a foundation for it. A framework was created as a foundation to create Bayonne, and to create this framework, Common C++ was initially written. Similarly, GNU Bayonne, as it stands today, is also simply a foundation to create the next level of solutions. Within this context, GNU Bayonne will provide fundamental services, in conjunction with many others, to make this larger vision become deployable and commonplace. As free software and by using freely implemented protocols, we expect everyone to be able to participate openly in the advancement of telecommunications and to build upon existing work and projects to create these and other better solutions for industry, and for our users, now and in the future.

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