Archive for the ‘Live Calendar’ Category
I bang on quite a lot on this blog about ways in which data can get published over the web and one of the most interesting ways, in my opinion, of publishing data in a structured manner that is well understood is to use the iCalendar specification. There isn’t much information in the world that doesn’t have some concept of “when” so iCalendar is a great way of distributing that information.
You have probably used iCalendar at some point without even knowing about it. All files with a .ics suffix are iCalendar format files and that is why you can happily import them into Outlook, Hotmail Calendar, Google Calendar etc… where they can be parsed and have the semantic data (when, where and who) extracted from them. Importing of iCalendar format data is really only half the trick though; in my opinion the real value of iCalendar-formatted calendar is the ability to subscribe to them.
Subscribing has a simple benefit over importing but that single benefit is of massive importance: a subscriber to an iCalendar calendar can periodically check to see if any updates have been made and, if they have, automatically update the local copy. The real benefit to the user is the productivity gain – a single update to an iCalendar means that all subscribers are automatically made aware of the change and there is zero effort on the part of the subscriber; as my former colleague Howard van Rooijen is fond of saying, “work smarter not harder” – nowhere is this edict more ably demonstrated than subscribing versus importing of calendars.
If you want to read some more thoughts about iCalendar then go and read my past blog post Calendar syndication – My big hope for 2009’s breakthrough technology or better still go and seek out Jon Udell who speaks very authoritatively on the issue of iCalendar.
With this subject of iCalendar on my mind I was interested to discover (via Steve Clayton’s blog post Download the world cup fixtures) that the BBC had made a .ics file available containing all of the matches in the upcoming World Cup. As you can probably guess this was a file that was made available so that it could be imported into your calendar of choice. It had one obvious downside though, right now nobody knows who is going to be playing in the knock-out stages so the calendar looks like this:
with no teams being named after 25th June. How much more useful would this calendar have been if the BBC had made it possible to subscribe to the calendar instead, thus the calendar could be updated with the teams for the knock out stages when they are known and every subscriber would have a permanently up-to-date record of all the fixtures in their calendar. Better still, the calendar could be updated with match results as well or perhaps even post a match report from the BBC sport pages; when calendars are made subscribable a sea of opportunity opens up for distribution of information.
So with that in mind I have decided to go one better than the BBC. I have imported their .ics into a brand new Hotmail calendar and made it publicly available at the following URLs:
The link you’re really interested in is the second one – click on that and it should open up in your calendar software of choice. Or, if you want to view it in an online calendar such as Hotmail Calendar or Google Calendar, copy and paste that URL into the appropriate place.
Some people have told me they’re having trouble with the iCalendar link in which case hit the HTML link and then click “View ICS” at the resultant web page:
I shall endeavour to keep the calendar updated throughout the World Cup and even if I don’t you’re no worse off than if you had imported the BBC’s .ics file so why not give it a try? If I do keep it up to date then you will have a permanent record of the 2010 World Cup available in your calendar. Forever. If you have your calendar synced to your smartphone then you’ll be carrying match reports around with you without you having to do a single thing. Surely that’s worth a quick click isn’t it?
If you have any thoughts let me have them in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
Recently I sent the following request to http://feedback.live.com:
- My work-based calendar is hosted on Microsoft Exchange. it would be great to be able to access that calendar via webcal and then add it to my Live Calendar.
(which, incidentally, you can see on my Feedback submissions lista).
I figured that it would be a long long time until we saw this because, as far as I was aware, there was no way to view my work-based calendar on a public website. How wrong could I be? Today I saw Sarah Perez’s blog entry Take your work calendar home and realised that, actually, its dead easy to publish your work based calendar to the web from right within Microsoft Outlook. When you do so your calendar can be viewed from anywhere via Office Online.
I was stunned when I found this out. Why? Because Office 2007 has been out for nearly a year now and this is the first time that I’d heard about this feature. It is the very definition of software+services that Microsoft keep harping on about. Its a perfect example of the Ray Ozzie envisioned future and yet until today no-one from Microsoft had even mentioned it as far as I know.
What I especially like about Office Online is that it is accessed using a Windows Live ID and thus published calendars can be shared with other Windows Live IDs. This should mean that displaying my work calendar alongside my personal calendar on http://calendar.live.com isn’t much of a jump and I strongly suspect that the boffins in Windows Live are working towards this goal as I speak. When they achieve it they will have met my feedback request and I’ll be absolutely delighted.
If this feature (i.e. viewing an Office Online calendar in http://calendar.live.com) is made possible then this could result in a huge upsurge in activity for Live Calendar and Windows Live in general because now every Outlook user in the world (and there is a lot of those) has a reason to start using it. You will hear a lot more about this, I guarantee it. This is going to be huge!
Courtesy of Brandon LeBlanc, here’s a video that demonstrates how you can view your Windows Live Calendar in an offline client in Windows Vista.
Very cool stuff. Its still not as rich an experience as you might like because, although it might not look like it, this doesn’t actually auto-sync with the online service. You’d hope that one day it will use your Windows Live ID to automatically pull down ALL the calendars that you are subscribed to in the online service. That will happen soon enough I’m sure.
For now though, this is a very good start. I just wish it was built into Windows Live Mail that’s all.
Yesterday I posted a blog entry talking about some things I liked and didn’t like about Windows Live Calendar beta. Since then I’ve been playing with it some more and have come up with a list of other nice-to-haves that I’d like to see in Live Calendar.
I have submitted each of these ideas as suggestions to the Windows Live beta program on Microsoft Connect. If you are a member of that program then you can click on the link after each submission below and hence you will be able to track Microsoft’s reply to these things, vote on my ideas, and comment on them as well.
Here they are:
- I’d like to be able to search for events on public calendars that match some search criteria. For example, show me all music gigs or all events in my local town. Or (even better) all music gigs in my local town. Even better still would be an RSS feed of all these events so that I know when new ones get added. (Connect submission)
- Live Calendar enables us to subscribe to other Live calendars (such as this one or this one). However, you can’t subscribe to webcal calendars such as this one on iCalShare. Sure you can import, but that’s not the same as subscribing. Subscribing means that you know when the original calendar gets changed, that doesn’t happen if you import it. (Connect submission)
- There is no searchable directory of shared Live Calendars. I would like there to be one. This would be similar to http://collections.live.com which is a directory of collections created on Live Maps. (Connect submission)
- There is no client app that allows you to synchronise with your Live Calendar(s) and thus look at them and add to them when offline. There should be one and it should be integrated into Windows Live Mail. (Connect submission)
- I’d like to see a Live.com/Live Spaces gadget that displays my Agenda from Live Calendar. (Connect submission)
- I’d like to see my Live Calendar(s) synchronised to my mobile phone. One day I’d like to see it synchronised to other places like my Zune. (Connect submission)
- If our friends have birthdays coming up then we can see them on our Live Spaces ‘What’s new’ page. I would like to have the option to display them on a Live Calendar as well. (Connect submission)
- I would like to see the Live Spaces ‘What’s new’ feed displayed as a Live Calendar that I could overlay on all my other calendars. (Connect submission)
- If I have photos on my Live Space that have date and time metadata attributed to them then I would like to see those overlaid as a Live Calendar so that I can see them against all my other calendars. Almost like creating a timeline of my life using my photos. (Connect submission)
- I’d like to see all my blog entries on my Live Space exposed as a Live Calendar so that I can see them over time and also see them against all my other calendars. (Connect submission)
- I would like to see statistics on how many people are using a calendar that I have created. (Connect submission)
- If someone adds one of my publicly shared calendars to their own collections of Calendars then I’d like to be told about it via my Live Spaces ‘What’s new’ page. (Connect submission)
- If one of my friends creates a calendar, show it on the What’s New feed on my Live Spaces home. (Connect submission)
- I would like my agenda to be displayed on http://home.live.com (Connect submission)
Let me know what you think!
I’ve been using WL Calendar for a few days so figured now was a good time to give an opinion on it.
WL Calendar is a fairly standard calendar app but that’s not meant to be derogatory in any way. It does what it does and it does it pretty well – I fail to see how a Calendar app could be significantly better or worse then another one. As ever its the little nuances that make an app stand out and WL Calendar has a few:
The hover-over AJAX functionality is pretty nice
Having multiple calendars and being able to overlay them in the same place could be very useful indeed. For example, you could create a calendar containing all of your favourite sports team’s fixtures and share it with the world which on the surface seems pretty cool.
There are some foibles with this though (more on this later).
You can now add social events from Live Events to your default calendar
Again though this is less than perfect…read on to find out why
Following on the Live Events theme, you can create one from right within Live Calendar
but there are problems with this as well (again, more below)
|I love the fact that you can drag and drop events from one time slot to another. Just yesterday I was due to have a phone conversation with someone but for one reason or another it didn’t happen so we rescheduled for a couple of days time. Rather than removing the old event and recreating a new one I could just drag the existing event to the new time slot. Very cool!|
Some things aren’t so good though any my main complaint (and its a big one) is that the integration between Live Calendar and Live Events is pretty woeful, even given what I said above. Sure you can create Live Events from within Live Calendar and yes, you can add Live Events to your default Live Calendar…but there’s a lot of stuff it can’t do. You would think that creating a Live Event from within Live Calendar would cause that event to show on your calendar, wouldn’t you? Well actually..nope…that doesn’t happen.
And when you want to add a Live Event to one of you Live Calendars wouldn’t you like to be given the option as to which of your calendars it goes to? No, can’t do that either. My apologies, I was wrong about this! It turns out you CAN choose which calendar it goes to.
These are big barriers. As you can see from above I wanted to build a publicly available calendar of my team’s fixtures for this season where each fixture is a Live event. Because of these two problems I simply cannot do it.
- Right-click doesn’t do anything. For example, I’d like to share a calendar simply by right-clicking and selecting ‘Share…’. Or right-click on a day and select ‘Create Event…’
- More Live Event disappointments. You can add a Live Event to your calendar but any changes to that Live Event (such as a time change, or URL change) won’t get reflected in your Live Calendar
- The URL for one of my shared calendars contains my name. What’s the point in that? Rather than http://jamie.calendar.live.com:80/calendar/Leeds+United+fixtures/index.html why not just http://calendar.live.com:80/calendar/Leeds+United+fixtures/index.html.Or, even better, simply make it http://Leeds+United+fixtures.calendar.live.com:80/.
- You can’t choose an exact timeslot when dragging and dropping an event from one day to another.
- Double-clicking on a time slot creates an event in that time slot but this doesn’t seem too intuitive to me. I would expect double-clicking to have a drill-down effect where if I double-click on a day when in ‘Month’ view I am taken to a detailed view of that day. Once I am in ‘Day’ or ‘Week’ view double clicking would create an event like it does now. This is a debatable point of view though so I won’t push it too much.
- Why isn’t my agenda exposed on http://home.live.com
- Windows Live Calendar is supposed to be a RESTful service. I suppose that’s kinda true because http://jamie.calendar.live.com:80/calendar/Jamie’s+test+calendar/index.html will take you to one of my calendars. However, I kinda expected more than that. I was hoping that I could enter something like http://jamie.calendar.live.com:80/calendar/Jamie’s+test+calendar/2007/11/08 and it would show me everything for that particular day. But not so. It would be really cool to have this. Being able to go straight to a particular day without having to navigate to it would be really valuable. However, even MORE valuable would be the ability to post new events to my calendar using any HTTP client. For example, I could send an HTTP POST to http://jamie.calendar.live.com:80/calendar/Jamie’s+test+calendar/2007/11/08/13/30 with the details of the event in the HTTP payload and it would create that new event at 01:30PM on November 8th, 2007.
So, its a good first stab and we mustn’t forget that this service is still in beta. I’d expect it to improve a lot before it gets its final release though.
P.S. Here are my own calendars that are publicly available. I’m hoping that linking to them might mean they get picked up by the search indexes:
- Sunbury-on-Thames calendar – http://jamie.calendar.live.com/calendar/Sunbury-on-Thames/index.html or webcal://jamie.calendar.live.com/calendar/Sunbury-on-Thames/calendar.ics
- Leeds United fixtures – http://jamie.calendar.live.com/calendar/Leeds+United+fixtures/index.html or webcal://jamie.calendar.live.com/calendar/Leeds+United+fixtures/calendar.ics
- Horsforth – http://jamie.calendar.live.com/calendar/Horsforth/index.html or webcal://jamie.calendar.live.com/calendar/Horsforth/calendar.ics