Charlene Li of Forrester research has a blog post entitled Google Calendar creates a platform for "time" applications where she writes

Having trialed a half dozen of them (including Airset, CalendarHub, 30Boxes, Planzo, and SpongeCell), Google Calendar is truly a best of breed in terms of ease of use and functionality. Here’s a quick overview of what’s different about the new product:

-          Manage multiple calendars. ....

-          Easy to use. ....

-          Sharing. ....

-          Open platform. I think this is the most interesting aspect of Google's calendar. The iCal standard along with RSS means that I will be able to synch my work calendar with my Google calendar. Although tie-ins with programs like Outlook aren’t yet available, Carl Sjogreen, Google Calendar’s product manager, said that such functionality will be coming "soon". Google is also partnering with Trumba to enabled "one-click" addition of events to your calendar (Trumba already works with calendar products from Yahoo!, Outlook, MSN Hotmail, and Apple). Also promised are synching capabilities to mobile phones. Carl also said that an API was in the works, which would enable developers to create new products on top of Google Calendar.

I've always thought that Web-based calendaring and event-based products haven't hit the sweet spot with end users because they are too much work to use for little benefit. The reason I use calendaring software at work is mainly to manage meetings. If I didn't have to attend meetings I'd never use the calendaring functionality of Outlook. In my personal life, the only times calendaring software would have been useful is integrating invitation services like eVite into my calendars at work and/or at home (I use both Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Mail).  However either eVite doesn't provide this functionality or it's unintuitive since I've never discovered it. So web-based calendaring software has been pretty much a bust for me. AJAXifying it doesn't change this in any way. 

On the other hand, I could probably build the integration I want between my work calendar and my eVite calendar if they had an API [and I was invited to enough parties to make this a worthy excercise]. It seems there is now an awareness of this in the industry at the big three (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) which is going to turn online calendaring into an interesting space over the next few months. Google Calendar is a step in the right direction by providing RSS feeds and announcing a forthcoming API. Yahoo! is already thinking about the same thing and also announced an upcoming Calendar API last month. As for Windows Live, our CTO has been talking to folks at work about using RSS+SSE as a way to share events and I'm sure they are paying attention [or at least will now that both Yahoo! and Google have thrown down].

With the increased use of RSS by Web-based calendaring applications perhaps it is time for RSS readers to also become more calendar aware?


 

Categories: Web Development | XML Web Services
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Friday, April 14, 2006 5:55:26 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Minor correction: "Google Calendar is a step in the right direction by providing RSS feeds and announcing a forthcoming API"... Google Calendar provides Atom feeds, not RSS.
Friday, April 14, 2006 5:53:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Heh, I was going to make the same point as James - I must have skimmed a dozen blogs referring to GC, virtually all mentioned RSS, not a one seemed to notice (or maybe care) that it was actually Atom.

re. "With the increased use of RSS by Web-based calendaring applications perhaps it is time for RSS readers to also become more calendar aware?"
Yes please! And don't forget there's a miriad of other kinds of data out there that a smart tool could profitably use.
Friday, April 14, 2006 7:34:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare, do you never have to remember birthdays, anniversaries etc.?
Saturday, April 15, 2006 2:50:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I called my wife and asked her to estimate the number of things on her calender next week (a white board kind of thing that hangs across from the fridge). She said there were six kid sports practices at three different fields on five days (that's for two boys), her book club meeting on Wednesday, four times she has to be at our parent assisted school program at specific times to support reading and writing activities, and a task deadline thing dealing with mailing something to friends so it gets there in time for whatever event they're celebrating. And there are some to do sorts of things on there for me and the older son.

You'd think a calendar would work for her. Wouldn't it just be great if she could arbitrarily add things to my task list?

And in fact she tried to use an online calendar at least once, but it was more trouble than it was worth. I think much of the value of any calendar, let alone an online version, comes from it's consistent use across a sizable enough social space. The school, the sports coaches, the relatives and friends, and all the rest, would have to be into it to make it useful. Even then, the whiteboard like thing would still be tough competition. It works very well.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 12:49:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Good information!
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