Prominent author John Udell notes that the iCalendar specification turns ten next month. Known to its friends as RFC 2445, the standard for describing events is used by Microsoft Outlook, Apple’s iCal, and many other calendar programs.
Udell thinks calendar sharing hasn’t reached its potential. The way RSS has been adopted for sharing and syndicating content, iCalendar could be better used, according to Udell. Where there is support for iCal, it tends to be read-only:
“Services like Eventful and Upcoming produce calendar feeds. But because they do not consume them, they don’t encourage individuals and groups to publish feeds, and to think and act in a syndication-oriented way.”
Calendar aggregators, which work in both directions, are the answer, according to Udell. He created a prototype of how these might look. There are eighteen separate calendars, local to Keene, NH, flowing into one events page. Similarly, there is an open source project, Calagator, based in Portland, OR, working on the issue. There are likely others. Let us know in the comments.
A related project, hCalendar, is a microformat based on iCalendar. As with all microformats, the event data is embedded within a standard HTML document, with special tags surrounding the data, which is often styled for the user. For more on microformats in general, see our microformats tutorial.