On Tuesday I posted a rant regarding the problems inherent in the collaborative calendaring world. I mentioned the frustration I have with having to use several different calendaring programs in order to provide appointment data to multiple locations, as well as my wife. All of it stems from the inability to share my Outlook calendar without having to give my wife access to my Exchange account. Well, two things have come up that have since changed my mind regarding this problem.
After posting my rant, I got a comment from someone at www.calgoo.com, telling me about their product. They said that you can integrate Outlook, iCalendars, and Google Calendar all into one location. Well, It sounded great, and as it was written in Java, I thought I would give it a try.
I started out by reading as much as I could about the program. The blurbs were encouraging, but there wasn't a lot in the Fax about configuring the program. Well, I figured that it would be really easy, so I signed up.
Once registered and confirmed, I was able to download the application for free. The program, as far as I can see, is not open source, but not having to pay money for it sits well with my pocket book, so I went for it.
The first thing I will note is that the application is in Beta, so all the functionality that they are working on is not yet available. But what they do have is the ability to edit your Google calendar from your desktop! Yes, that alone makes this application really worth it. You can also link to other shared iCalendars very easily.
Well, as it has an Outlook option, I thought I would give it a try. I started by trying to add an Outlook calendar, but the option wasn't there. That became a bit of a problem, as I was hoping to get access to it somehow on my Mac without using Entourage. Well, I decided to test it on my Windows XP install through Parallels, and sure enough it gave me the option to import my Outlook calendar from Windows. Why? Because it doesn't make an Exchange connection to the server, just pulls the calendar information from the computer's hard drive. That was a bugger.
So now I have additional functionality by editing the Google Calendar on my Mac Desktop (or Windows, for that matter), but I can't do anything with Outlook natively. My hopes were dashed again. But only temporarily...
The Outlook Solution
While I had my Windows Install up and running, I thought I would poke around with Outlook 2007. While in the Calendar window, I noticed a new feature. In 2003 you can open shared calendars and share your calendar, but now with Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Office Online you can publish your calendar to the web. That means anyone using a calendar program (like iCal or Calgoo) that reads iCalendar files can pull in the calendar from Outlook. The only drawback is that the calendar needs to be updated from your Outlook 2007 client instead of the Exchange server.
So now, instead of having to find a client that would access Exchange, I found a way to publish that exchange information to the Web, so that I don't need to use my Windows XP Parallels install more than once a day. ^_^ Needless to say, this made me very happy.
So now, I can view my Exchange information in iCal or Calgoo. Which will I probably keep using? Most likely Calgoo, because I can edit my Google calendar right from my desktop. The only problem that I have with it now is with notifications from non-Google calendars. The Reminder pop-up will not go away after I have clicked "dismiss". But as I said, it's still in Beta. Hopefully they will have the feature fixed here soon.