Group Calendaring

Being able to

  • schedule a meeting for a group of people based on their availability, as controlled by their PIM/Calendar schedule.

  • "share" a Calendar with someone (this always seems like a fuzzy concept to me, which includes multiple things - from letting someone see part/all of your calendar, to being able to define someone as a proxy who can Create and Accept schedule changes for you.)

Most software supports this only among people sharing a single server.


== Competing with MsExchange ==

Some existing calendar-sharing technologies to investigate:

I'd like to see someone build standalone servers and clients for this, rather than extending existing complementary products (EMail clients, PIM apps, etc.) so that people don't have to change those other apps to gain calendaring support. Likewise, make it platform-independent to maximize market: MsWindows client support is key. Even a hosted WebApp might be OK...

There are standards in play: VCal is a format for data about an event, ICal (not the Apple software) is for the full event lifecycle transactions, but isn't final (I'm not sure how close to final it is...)

User Stories to support: (need to describe how to accomplish these with MsOutlook without using MsExchange)

  • background/setup info:

  • suggest meeting: initiator picks list of people to include (time for that Digital Identity directory, otherwise it slides into EMail address book); pick a day/week to consider; grab Free-Busy data from each user (need to store location for each user - FOAF/Digital Identity) (that data needs to be stored/cached somewhere that's online all the time); pick free time. Generate invitations (EMail with Attachment? SOAP envelope?).

    • Jon Udell wrote a good piece on the issue of Time Zone management

    • what about scheduling other resources (e.g. conference room)?

    • MsOutlook

      • initiator enters invitee names in newEvent form; Outlook looks up Free-Busy URL of each user from Contacts records and pulls in Free-Busy info

      • when initiator picks date/time and save records, it sends EMail message with VCal Attachment to each invitee.

  • Invitee: accept or decline, send response with optional attached message (counter-propose alternate timing, etc.). Goes back only to initiator? (I could even see this waiting for v2, as email is OK for this.

  • Initiator can send change to proposal, or cancel.

  • Can invitees see list of other invitees? With acceptance status?

  • Synch to PDA. Ugh, what a nightmare, having to go platform-specific.


Aside from the technical issues, there are tricky usage issues, esp. in an increasingly networked Free Agent economy. Do you accurately block out travel time in your calendar?

  • In more detail: When I think about calendaring in a network economy my head explodes. Imagine you split your time between 2 different enterprises, and you might work from either of those physical sites, or from home (or Starbucks). You probably want to block off the big chunks of on-org-site time in your calendar. But if someone at one of those sites wants to schedule a meeting when you'll be onsite, how will they know which chunk of time works? And of course you might be willing to do a phone meeting from one site to the other...

  • Cory Doctorow on MacOs X ICal Time Zone nightmares (Oct'2003)


phpicalendar --2003/11/18 15:15 GMT
Just want to point you to a very nice ics calendar viewer phpicalendar: http://phpicalendar.sourceforge.net/nuke/

Experiment design --BillSeitz, 2004/02/20 21:29 GMT
Using Yahoo and MsOutlook (which I don't normally use)

  • put some entries in Yahoo calendar, turn on sharing

  • start MsOutlook, make some dummy account (to avoid sucking in real email),

    • put some events in the calendar, figure out how to save the Free-Busy calendar somewhere.

    • add my Yahoo identity (and a couple others) to the Address Book, enter URI for that Free-Busy calendar

    • try to create a meeting with the Yahoo identity

  • go back to Yahoo

    • does meeting request show up? What actions can I take in response?

    • can I see the MsOutlook Free-Busy


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