My response to Dan Gilmor on online calendars

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Dan Gilmor has a short post today in ressponse to a piece from the Mercury News about Trumba, a new web-based social calendaring service. Trumba is the brainchild of Jeremy Jaech, a UW Computer Science MS grad and one of the co-founders of Visio.

Dan’s take is that online calendaring is not yet ready for prime time, and he notes that he’s hoping that Chandler will be the product usable for real people in this space.

I commented on Dan’s post as follows:


Dan –

The big missing piece in online calendaring remains the lack of widely adopted standards for interoperability between different calendar systems – in calendaring we remain stuck where we were with email some twenty years ago, where you could exchange information easily only among people using the same system.

While I also hold out hope for Chandler (a group of us computing folks from higher-ed institutions have been very involved in contributing funding and working with OSAF on the genesis and development of Chandler), it may very well be that one of Mitch and OSAF’s greatest contributions may be the work of OSAF people on helping to define and agree on standards in the calendaring space.

While there’s a long history of failed attempts to get going on calendaring standards, the latest attempts actually give me some hope for success – there is work going on both in simplifying the existing Icalendar data standard (rfc2445) and in achieving real interoperability via a new protocol called CalDAV (latest draft at http://ietfreport.isoc.org/idref/draft-dusseault-caldav/ ), that layers calendaring extensions on top of the WebDAV protocol. CalDAV takes the approach that Apple and Mozilla have started and pumps it up to be more truly useful in many more scenarios.

There are a bunch of companies and other organizations working towards achieving interoperability in calendaring through the CalConnect Calendaring Consortium ( http://www.calconnect.org/ ). This group has been holding regular roundtable and interop events since last year, and we’re starting to see real progress be made on achieving disparate implementations of calendar software work together. The membership of this organization includes commercial companies such as Oracle, Novell, Yahoo, Symbian, MeetingMaker, and Isamet; open source organizations including Mozilla and OSAF; and academic institutions with an interest in this space. This is exciting work, and bears watching by anyone with an interest in online calendaring. The big missing piece in this work so far is the decided disinterest on the part of Microsoft – but I believe that if most of the other software products can work together in common ways that our friends in Redmond will be willing to come aboard in the long run.

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