Monday, April 12, 2010

...let me check my CalDAV...

Ever needed to coordinate schedules with friends or colleagues? Find yourself sending multiple emails or SMS to everyone involved in a project just to see if they're available on a particular date? Why not use a unified calendar?

Online collaborations are not new. Big corporations and IT firms have been using them for more than a decade. But these usually make use of a corporate server that handles all the appointment traffic and scheduling. Usually in the form of an Exchange server.

In recent years, open source and cloud computing have evolved to the point where this technology is now available to most of the computing public for a very reasonable, or no cost at all.

Enter CalDAV. This is part of an internet standard that hopes to unite all calendar applications regardless of OS, device, or user.

I've recently configured my devices (1 desktop, 1 laptop, and my iPod Touch) to sync calendars automatically whenever they're connected to the net.

The first step is to have a working online CalDav calendar. Gmail's calendar is CalDAV enabled, as is Yahoo Mail so these are 2 very good free starting points.

Once you have your Gmail or Yahoo calendar set up, follow their respective instructions on how to configure your particular device.

Microsoft doesn't seem to have any built in support for CalDAV just yet (nothing final anyway..I won't bother with ongoing projects that have too many bugs or are difficult to implement for average users), since it is a competing standard vs their Exchange Server. But you can use CalDAV in Windows via Mozilla's Thunderbird with the Lightning Add-on.

The reason I recommend CalDAV over Outlook Sync, or any other proprietary protocol is because it's free... and it works with pretty much any system. Both Apple's iPhone and Google's Android mobile phone systems can work with CalDAV so that allows a much easier migration and integration method without being locked into one manufacturer or software system.

The beauty of CalDAV over Gmail or Yahoo Mail is that it allows live syncing of all your calendars. A good example would be if you sent an email to all of your friends to meet up for lunch... everyone accepts the invite... this automatically places an appointment entry in their calendars with the date, time, locations and attendees... if anyone changes their mind, and cancels, this updates everyone else's calendars as well... so everytime you check your system ... whether from your phone, laptop, or PDA... the info is always up to date.

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