Friday, April 14, 2006

Google Calendar

Google has launched Google Calendar (Beta), and for those who already have a Gmail account, it's a great addition to the Google suite of online productivity tools. I haven't explored the calendar fully as yet, but for starters, the site seems to work a heck of a lot better with Firefox than it does with IE. Even with the site working well in Firefox, I did have problems with it -- little nuisances that adds up to make it not ready for prime time as yet.

For instance, after I created an event (added a calendar entry), I was allowed to edit it, but the site refused to save my edits. Guests can be added to an event by email invitation, yet that functionality doesn't seem to be up as yet -- can't save. Which tells me that integration with Gmail isn't there as yet. The promise however sounds great. From what I see, you can invite a guests, and then allow them to further invite guests of their own. Great if you really are trying to arrange an event.

Google also seems to be trying to integrate discussion functions into the calendar. There is comment functionality ready for events. I'm only assuming that this means those you invite (or others) can add comments to your events.Integration with other services seem to be mostly misses so far. Mapping integration is there, but all it does is allow you to look up maps via Google Maps. It would be great if you can specify the map URL in the event so that guests don't have to do the look up on their own.

Google Calendar also has functionality to give a user multiple calendars. From there, you can specify how you want your calendar to be shared, who you want to share with, and to what level. With a public share, you can then make your calendar available via an XML feed or in iCal format -- which is cool if you want to integrate it into a website. By sharing you calendar, it also allows other Google Calendar users to subscribe to your calendar. If you share your calendar public however, you should be aware that it means it will be available via Google search for anybody. Google Calendar also seems ready to import calendar entries via a CSV or iCal file. Those using Outlook or other popular calendaring programs would find this useful ... however, it would be nice to have support for calendar synchronization with other programs, as well as devices.

Google Calendar is currently in beta. Hopefully they'll integrate it well with their other online offerings to provide a solid suite of productivity tools. While Microsoft gives away a lot with Outlook, I hate being tied to a client. Google's offerings are open, especially with their parsing everything to XML. I suppose Windows Live is already getting there as well, which only means great things for consumers, as we'll have choices.


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