Gmail Contacts… Almost Accessible

Google has provided interfaces to most of its services through standard protocols, which is great. I can access my Google Calendar events via a private iCal address (one-way only, Google to my local client). I can access my Gmail messages through POP or IMAP. I can import my OpenDocument files to Google Docs (even keep them synchronized as I work on them with the help of OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs extension).

One gripe I’ve had since the beginning of Gmail is that I cannot access my Gmail contacts from any LDAP-supported address book — until GCALDaemon. It’s a daemon that, among other things, translates LDAP requests from a local client (e.g. Mozilla Thunderbird) to gmail.com HTTP requests. A bonus feature for me (though this seems to actually be the main feature of GCALDaemon) is that I get two-way synchronization with my Google Calendar now too. GCALDaemon is available for Linux, OS X, and Windows, though the developers are obviously Windows centric — the Linux release comes as a zip file (no .deb, .rpm, or even tarball) and then you are instructed to add execute permissions the the shell scrips as part of the manual installation process! It also lacks an init script, so I wrote a simple one to get the job done (Assumes you unpacked the zip file to /opt):

#! /bin/sh
# /etc/init.d/GCALDaemon
#

# Carry out specific functions when asked to by the system
case “$1” in
start)
echo “Starting GCALDaemon …”
start-stop-daemon –start –pidfile /var/run/GCALDaemon.pid \
–chuid nobody:nogroup –background –make-pidfile \
–exec /opt/GCALDaemon/bin/standalone-start.sh
;;
stop)
echo “Stopping GCALDaemon …”
start-stop-daemon –stop –pidfile /var/run/GCALDaemon.pid –user nobody
;;
*)
echo “Usage: /etc/init.d/blah {start|stop}”
exit 1
;;
esac

for getting up and running quickly. So why are Gmail contacts only almost accessible? Only email addresses and phone numbers seem to supported by GCALDaemon, not postal addresses.

See also:

UPDATE (2008-11-14): I discovered Zindus and have been using it for a few weeks now. It’s a more elegant solution, though they still need to figure out out a better solution for syncing postal addresses. The best solution is to simply standardize the way postal addresses are stored, IMO. Currently the Thunderbird address book keeps sepearate fields for Street, City, etc., whereas Google (and many others) store addressses as one big free-form field.

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