Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Calendaring update: CalDAV and Google Calendar

A while ago I published a post on my problems trying to work in an enterprise environment without an Exchange compatible calendar.  It's been tough, it's been heart-breaking, it's been a lot of work, but I have managed to hobble along with various forms of updates, patches, syncing tools that failed, etc.  

Then today, while still looking for a solution to Outlook 2007 and iCal Server compatibility, I read it:  Google finally enabled CalDAV for their calendars.  It's still very much in the beta stage, but it works.  

For those who are not familiar with the CalDAV protocol, it's an open source subset of the WebDAV protocol, which is a subset of the HTTP protocol.  The standard was developed as an open source, non-proprietary competitor to the Exchange format, and works with cross-platform clients.  The protocol allows for publishing and updating iCalendar files from multiple sources.  Apple developers spent a lot of time and effort with this protocol in order to get it out there for their Collaboration server setup (iCal Server, Wiki Server, Blogs, iChat, etc.).  As such, iCal 3.x (the version that came with 10.5 Leopard) supports it, as does a number of other clients (Thunderbird, Sunbird, etc.).  

The set up went very smoothly.  Google has a support link here that shows you how to set up your iCal client to connect to your Google Calendar, and any secondary calendars to which you have access.  It's very painless, and from what I can see so far works just fine for regular calendar entries.  That being said, beyond just scheduling my classes, lab deployments, and the odd meeting, I don't use calendaring software much.  

Of course there enters a new wrench:  Outlook.  I still need to share my calendar with other people in the department using Outlook.  Outlook 2003 doesn't support viewing iCal calendars through a WebDAV connection (which allows sharing, but not multi-user publishing), without a 3rd party plugin.  It can read files that are in the iCal and vCal format, but from what I have read it doesn't support them very well (if anyone has heard or knows otherwise, please let me know!). 

Enter Outlook 2007.  Outlook 2007 will let you read a Google Calendar without a problem.  It's actually fairly easy to set up.  You can also publish a calendar the same way using WebDAV.  The problem is, you can't use a CalDAV calendar, no matter how hard you try.  There are, in theory, some applications that act as a bridge, but I'm not too keen on bridges like that (though if you must, Calgoo has added CalDAV to it's calendaring utility!).  I'd much rather use the application that comes with the OS (or in Windows case, the application that comes with the Office software you purchase separately).  If anyone is aware of an alternative solution, please let me know!  

So while my personal calendaring needs are met with the Google Calendar solution, there is still one missing:  setting up Outlook to add to a CalDAV calendar.  Perhaps, with a patch to Outlook, this will be possible.

No comments: