I think this is really quite important, though it sounds pretty technical and geeky at present. Google Calendars now support the CalDAV protocol. (So, incidentally, do Calgoo).
CalDAV is an open standard for synchronising and updating calendars, and I’ve been keeping an eye on it ever since Apple quietly announced, way, way back, that it would be supported in the Leopard version of iCal, their desktop calendar program. This meant that you could publish your calendar to a CalDAV server, and that other people could also subscribe to it and update it.
This is important because, for many people, calendar synchronisation (allowing things like meeting room booking as well) is the only reason they run the expensive abomination that is Microsoft Exchange. To have broader support for an open standard would be great! But my hopes of a brave new world were moderated somewhat when implementations of CalDAV servers, other than the one Apple shipped with its server OS, seemed to be few and far between.
Well, it’s still early days and there are limitations and some rough edges – like iCal not syncing such calendars to iPhone/iTouch – but it’s a good start: with people like Google and Calgoo now creating server implementations, and iCal, Calgoo and Mozilla Sunbird (at least) supporting CalDAV on the desktop, my hope is renewed…
Thanks to Garry for the link.
Aside from an open calendaring client/server specification and protocol (i.e. an Exchange replacement) the neatest thing about CalDAV, I think, is that you should be able to do “cross-realm” scheduling. Ie, I should be able to see your free/busy time and invite you to events, etc., even if you’re not in my “server’s” calendar system (and the notion of that I think is built-in). It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the details of all of that and so I qualified my statement with “should” and even if it were possible it would take practical implementation from the server vendors, too, but neat stuff all around.