Good Enough!

A blog about "good enough" things - for those who don't need, can't afford, or don't care about the "very best".

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

NOT good enough!

What's not good enough for me, lately, are the various calendaring things around me. Various pieces of software have various features, but of the few that I own, not one has all of the features I want to use. This, despite an IETF RFC describing calendar objects - RFC 2445, also known as iCalendar - which has been out for a number of years. Here are some of the currently frustrating examples of calendar "failures":

  • Palm Desktop- my wife and I use this at home to coordinate schedule information for ourselves. She's more of a planner than I, but I still participate. This product will NOT open, import nor export iCalendar information, instead continuing to support the earlier standard, vCalendar. If I find iCalendar files (usually an .ics extension) somewhere that I want to add to my personal calendar, I'm out of luck. Why a company so focused on personal information management hasn't done this is beyond me... and it's worse than that, because iCalendar is a superset of vCalendar, so managing to implement just the backward-compatible part of it would only mean that they have to check for "VERSION: 2.0" in their code instead of "VERSION: 1.0" to "get by".
  • Lotus Notes - can import .ics files from attachments but not open them directly. This is the choice for mail and calendaring where I work, and the same limitations as mentioned above apply - I'd like to be able to click on the .ics files and add schedule information. I believe Outlook can do it, but I don't have Outlook to try it out - Outlook Express doesn't do calendaring that I know of.
  • Event listings on the Web- far too many do not provide iCalendar versions of the event calendar, though this is improving, probably due to the support in Apple's iCal (and Microsoft's Outlook?) for the iCalendar standard.
  • Band touring schedules! Not only do many of them not supply iCalendar files, I've noticed that an awful lot of them don't include the time of the engagement. If I'm driving to a concert, say from West Palm Beach to Miami, not an unusual occurrence when I was living down there, I need to know when to arrive, wouldn't you say?

These things are bound to improve. There's work going on to improve iCalendar and related standards, and software publishers (except maybe for Palm!) look like they're improving their support for the standard. It would be nice if more of the Web publishing tools like FrontPage, ColdFusion, and the like, provided easy ways for people publishing event listings to provide the support too.


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