Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin...

Seems that I need to set some kind of calendar alarm to remind me to post here!

I haven't heard any new news on the Calconnect.org front, although there was another Interop in early June, so there's nothing to report there.

There is, however, some new news as far as uses of iCalendar goes.

I regularly attend SHARE, which is a conference of computer users. SHARE started as a group of IBM users 50(!) years ago in 1955. They are now a group of IBM users, but users of anything which runs IBM software. The conference happens twice a year, and the sessions at SHARE run the gamut from Windows desktops to "giant" (actually smaller than some server racks) z/990 machines.

Like many other groups, SHARE tries to have conference agendas online to make it easier to plan your attendance. Well, starting with the next conference, their 105th, each session will have a calendar link attached to it, which allows you to dowload and open an iCalendar file! This, of course, lets you add the sessions directly to your calendar, if your calendar package supports iCalendar. It works in Outlook - I tested it at home even though I don't use Outlook for my home calendar. It won't, of course, work in Palm Desktop - because its VERSION component is "2.0" and Palm Desktop doesn't support that "new-fangled" iCalendar, they just support vCalendar. It may work in Apple's iCal but I don't have one to test with.

At any rate, this is great news - now we will be able to build our own personal agendas and sync them to our PDAs (if we have them). If you've ever tried to keep track of what sessions you want to attend for a large conference like SHARE, you'll realize what a boon this is.

3 comments:

Bob Jonkman said...

Hi Tim: Have you seen the Hula project? I'd love to read your comments on it...

--Bob.

(is there a better way to correspond with you, other than leaving a comment?)

Tim said...

Bob - if you read this, you can e-mail me at (obfuscated to prevent spam)

TimHare A T Comcast DAWT Net

I went to look at the Hula project, didn't find contact info for you there... Maybe Hula should also submit their URL to Calconnect.org if you haven't already.

Bob Jonkman said...

Hi Tim: Thanx for the response.

I'm not involved with the Hula project myself, just an interested third party. I'll pass on the Calconnect.org URL to the organizers, tho.

I read some interesting comments about Hula by Jamie Zawinski (and there's blog commentary. The most salient comment for me is

The first thing you want to do is make it trivially easy for someone to publish their calendar [...] . Right now people can do that by publishing .ics files, but it's not trivial to do so, and it's work on the part of other people to look at them. If it's not HTML hanging off our friend's home page that can be viewed in any browser on a public terminal in a library, the bar to entry is too high and it's useless.

This nicely sums up why iCalendar support is so scarce -- if it's too difficult to share calendars with iCalendar, people don't use it, so there's no demand, so vendor's aren't motivated to make it easier. hCalendar may change that.

I've been interested in interoperable calendaring for years -- in 1987 I figured out the calendar file format for Borland's SideKick, and integrated it with a dBASE client tracking application I was writing. I fear things haven't improved much since then...

Today I'm a GroupWise administrator... As a proprietary application GroupWise has one of the most elegant calendaring paradigms I've worked with, but its big failing is the lack of iCalendar support. Even the new version 7.x doesn't have iCalendar integration. Sigh.


Thanx for your blog, I'll stay tuned.

--Bob.