End-to-End Calendaring “Solution”

My post asking for calendaring suggestions resulted in a lot of feedback, but no solutions that accomplished the goals I was looking for:

  1. Sync between desktop computers and handheld.
  2. Web access for viewing and entering/editing.
  3. Public view of combined free-busy state.

There is a solution that does all of this, but is isn’t one I’m willing to use at the moment. Here are the tools involved:

  • Hosted Exchange account which provides Outlook Web Access
  • BlackBerry Enterprise Server
  • Microsoft Entourage
  • Apple iSync
  • Apple iCal
  • Apple Address Book
  • PHP iCalendar (or Google Calendar)
  • FTP iCal or similar program to FTP iCalendars to my web server
  • Script I’d have to write to combine multiple iCalendars into a single iCalendar, replacing all events with a simple “Busy” subject (I’ve basically got this written – needed it previously)

It would work like this: The BlackBerry and Microsoft Entourage talk directly to the hosted Exchange account. On my Macs, Apple iCal and Address Book send and receive information to Entourage via iSync (which Entourage then sends back to Exchange)1. An automated process would export the iCalendars from iCal and push them to my server. A script on my server would read these iCalendars and combine them into a single “free-busy” iCalendar which can be displayed by PHP iCalendar or Google Calendar.

So this :scare: works :/scare: , but is horribly complex and inelegant. It also has a ~$200/year additional price tag for the hosted Exchange account. If the solution were a little cleaner, I might think harder about it but at the moment the setup complexity and cost are prohibitive.

One piece of the puzzle that would still be missing is the ability to let people request/schedule appointments though the free/busy web interface (though I could probably script that too), but I can do without that for now.

Feedback welcome…

  1. Thanks to Ethan for figuring out this part of the puzzle. [back]