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.
If you’re incorporating date and time data into a website, it may not make sense to roll your own calendar system. Using someone else’s service can cut down on development time and may give you more features than you’d have if you did it on your own.
Here are three free APIs to look into if you want to build a calendar or event tool.
30 Boxes – The basics are covered: programmatically add, retrieve, update and delete events on this popular calendaring site. The API also lets you search events by full text or tag. 30 Boxes also has todo data available through the API.
Google Calendar – Does everything that 30 Boxes does, minus the todo stuff. It’s hard to deny the power of ubiquity. If your app needs to access your user’s data elsewhere, you’ll probably use Google Calendar.
Spongecell – This event promotion service also has a surprisingly complete API. If you’re looking to create private calendars, this might not be the one to choose. If you organize events yourself, check out Spongecell. In addition to normal calendar stuff, you can send invitations, check on responses, and more.
Calgoo is solving you and your significant other’s scheduling problems by offering its calendar synchronization tools for free. Tuesday’s announcement coincides with the release of version 2.0 of its software.
There are several software products vying to be your primary calendar. Depending on what you have at work or at home, most calendars offer the ability to import each other, but prohibit interactivity. In most cases, creating an event in one calendar means the event stays there. You would either have to import the event among other calendar sources or create events in each one. Calgoo solves the problem by updating all events among all calendars automatically when an event is created.
Among different standards and synchronization services, me.com and Windows Live included, there seems to be too many calendar solutions. This software provides a pretty decent workaround while the other providers battle it out for dominance.