Zimbra to make HTML5 push in next version

The goal is to provide online and offline access to its email and calendaring server via the same client interface

VMware's Zimbra division has provided a preview of some of the enhancements it's working on for the next major release of the Zimbra Collaboration Server (ZCS), including an HTML5 Web client interface for both online and offline access to the product.

Currently, ZCS has both a Web interface and a desktop application, but the goal is to merge the two experiences so that users will be able to work both online and offline via the same client interface.

ZCS, a Linux-based enterprise email and calendaring product, is currently in version 8, which began shipping in September.

The next version, code-named Judas Priest, will focus on HTML5 capabilities to give end users access to the software via "any desktop, tablet and mobile device while providing support for native clients using sync protocols," wrote Jon Dybik, a Zimbra product management leader, in a blog post.

VMware hasn't announced when this next version of ZCS will ship.

Dybik described the existing Zimbra Desktop client application as "essentially an offline HTML experience using SQL lite to store data, Jetty to serve our web app locally, and Prism -- Firefox -- to render the client UI."

With HTML5, Zimbra will be able to cache the Web client application in local storage and provide SQL services in Chrome, IE and Firefox for local copies of recent emails, calendars and contacts.

For people who need a complete replica of their mailboxes, Zimbra will continue to provide and expand support for specific desktop client applications from vendors like Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla.

Zimbra is also remaking its mobile Web application to give it a more agile user interface and support for common touch and swipe gestures used in tablets and smartphones.

"The Zimbra desire to place its bet on HTML5 browser technology as the primary access mechanism, plus the drive to upgrade the mobile browser with improved gesture support, are clearly in line with customer demands," said Gartner analyst Matt Cain.

ZCS can be installed on customer premises or accessed as a cloud-hosted subscription.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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