Internet Calendaring: Q&A time...

There were some great questions in the comments to my previous post about Internet Calendar Subscriptions in Outlook 2007. I wanted to answer those before I go on to talk about Internet Calendar Publishing in Outlook 2007. - Can

"However, the downloaded calendar will not be updated automatically when the original calendar is changed." So how do they get updated?

Internet Calendars that are ‘subscribed to’ via the webcal:// protocol will get updated  automatically. The webcal:// handler on the URL tells Outlook to establish a dynamic link with the calendar that lets us check for changes at each update interval.  Downloaded, or imported calendars, are static and will not receive updates.  That operation is a one-time only import.

Can you compare and contrast the functionality offered here vs. that of Outlook Calendar Sharing in an Exchange Environment?

Within a corporation or any Exchange Environment, Exchange sharing is still the best way of sharing calendars and other Outlook data. For instance, Exchange calendar sharing can have “read/write” access for the subscribers, whereas Internet Calendar Subscriptions are always read-only. When sharing through Exchange, you will need a connection to your server (possibly inside your corporation’s intranet) to stay up to date with any shared calendars.  Internet-based calendars can be accessed whenever Outlook has regular Internet access, and does not require Exchange connectivity. 

Willthis work for Free/Busy information (i.e., is it shown when you go to schedule an appointment with someone).

Yes. It’s a great way of scheduling with someone who is outside of your coporation’s Exchange environment.  For scheduling amongst people in the same environment, free/busy information through Exchange is still the best way to go. 

What scenarios do you see this primarily used in?

If you’re a sports fan, you can easily subscribe to an Internet Calendar version of your favorite team’s schedule.  This would allow you to see all of the upcoming games and even overlay that calendar on top of your own – now find out exactly where and when you’ll be able to catch a game.  If the team changes location and/or time for a game, as often happens in the playoffs, any schedule change will be automatically sunk down to Outlook.  For projects, it offers an easy way for the coordinator to create a group calendar that is accessible by all members of the team.

The personal space has some awesome applications of Internet Calendaring that become accessible with our calendar publishing functionality.  Look forward to a blog post about that soon.

Have you looked at using RSS as a transport mechanism for this information? I think there is a service called that does this. RSS to me seams like a natural way to syndicate this calendar information. If you have looked at it, what was the decision to not go in the RSS direction?

Outlook 2007 will not support using RSS as a calendar transport protocol.  It is a compelling use of the RSS format and we are investigating its integration in a future release of Outlook.

What will be the link (if any) to Outlook Web Access? I guess what I am trying to ask is if calendars added to outlook will be accessible in Outlook Web Access?

Subscribed Internet Calendars are local to your machine, however, the information we use to subscribe to the calendars roams through Exchange. This means that on each machine that you connect to Exchange you will be able to see the Internet Calendars after they have been download onto that machine’s local store.  However, they are not available through OWA since they need to be downloaded to your local store.

Would Microsoft provide tools and code samples for developing with the webcal protocol?

The webcal protocol is just a derivative of the http protocol, which enables the browser to hand the Internet Calendar address correctly to any registered iCal client. Thus generating a webcal address is trivial once you have the http address for the *.ics file. For generating ical content, users can choose to save their calendar as iCal (*.ics) or publish their calendar directly in Outlook and share their calendar, as I will outline in my next post.

Thank you for your interest and questions. I’ll be talking about Internet Calendar Publishing in Outlook 2007 in my next post, and until that time, let us know if you have any other comments and questions about Internet Calendaring…