To get an idea on how Horde 5 will look like: click the link or the image of this post.
Why does Horde 5 get a face lift? Simply because the current UI was mentioned often enough as an issue by many Horde users. And since the Horde 4 release had a very technical focus the switch from Horde 3 to Horde 4 last year did not help - it even degraded consistency between the applications. At the same time the competition does not sleep and there are more and more large installations that offer their user base two different webmails - one of them being Horde for the power users that feel they need a lot of features but that care less about the UI. Time to get our act together.
So what is the primary target of the redesign? First and foremost we want to unify the main user interfaces. At the moment we have the static application views, the dynamic webmailer, and the dynamic calender as the core parts. All looked somewhat different. These are the elements that we wish to give a consistent look. The special views such as the minimal webmailer or the smartphone UI will remain untouched.
We also hope the new design looks somewhat fresher than what we had before but please keep in mind that we are oriented towards people that use the interface for their daily work. We do not aim for a UI that looks like the last hype. It should be functional instead.
The Horde LLC has been the driving factor behind the redesign. At least financially. A subset of the Horde core developers started the LLC a while back as a contact point for people that want to pay for Horde support or feature development. A part of the money that such contracts pay goes to the developers dealing with the particular customer request. But another part of the money remains within the LLC. The idea is to use the latter to drive features that we consider to be important for Horde and its community. The redesign is the first project that has been financed this way. The Horde team tried finding designers interested in contributing to an Open Source project several times before. This was unsuccessful however and paying a designer for the work remained the only reasonable alternative.
We contracted No agency for the design. After several rounds of communication between them and all Horde developers we managed to end up with the draft displayed above. This has been converted to HTML and CSS this week and will be hammered into code during the next week by Jan Schneider. We do hope to present you with an alpha of Horde 5 - including the draft of the new design - on the 22nd May of 2012.
Feedback and comments - as usual - are welcome!