I’m in Cupertino, where Apple is hosting the fall CalConnect Roundtable meeting.
Gary Schwartz from RPI is talking about the proof of concept of federated free-busy information that was developed for the Open Group Challenge on the subject last spring. The idea of free-busy aggregation is that it solves the difficult problem of seeing when people have free time in common, even if they’re on disparate calendaring systems.
The requirements of the challenge were to us open standards, could be implemented today, and cross timezones and geographic and network boundaries.
The proof of concept was constrained to a list of named attendees at a specified list of times, with all users having accounts on calendar servers.
The aggregator program provides the UI and business logic. A CaldAV compliant free-busy interface provides the interface between systems. Connectors translate from proprietary protocols to CalDAV. Systems that were interfaced included RPI’s Bedework, Oracle Calendar, TimeBridge (via a CalDAV proxy), Exchange (via a connector written by Boeing), OSAF’s Cosmo server, Lotus Domino (via a connector that IBM wrote), and Google calendar (via a connector that RPI wrote to the Google calendar API).
Users are registered with the aggregator by their email address.
Apple’s iCal server is added for this demo today.
Gary notes that the advantage of the aggregator is that it takes an enterprise approach and doesn’t require work on the part of the individual user, aside from just noting to the aggregator where their calendar is located.
Next steps include discovery, authentication and access control, and adding additional calendar systems. It would be nice to utilize the richer functionality of the new CalDAV Scheduling spec.
The aggregator toolkit is available at:
Boeing is looking to “productize” their work to use with their partners.
Mike Douglas says that Boeing did a survey and found that it typically takes 20 hours of work to schedule a meeting, so clearly there’s a business justification to make this happen.