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Handhelds Syncing w/ Web-Based Calendars? 67

Posted by Cliff
from the using-the-same-data dept.
hacker asks: "I have been asked many times over the past few years to support "web-based calendaring" with pilot-link, so people can syncronize their PalmOS handheld devices directly with 'online' calendaring software. The problem is...what calendaring software? I've looked at the various alternatives (PHP iCalendar, WebCal, and about two-dozen others) free and commercial, and none of them really offer a good, powerful, flexible way to integrate the same kind of data that resides on a Palm handheld device. I would write the conduit between Palm and calendaring software. Has anyone actually used a web-based calendaring product they like, and if so, which one, and why? Would the ability to syncronize your Palm handheld with your web-based calendaring software be useful?"
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Handhelds Syncing w/ Web-Based Calendars?

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  • by bfgimpexe (208666) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @05:47AM (#8415576) Homepage
    I've been using Yahoo Calendars for a couple months now and it does everything I need, as well as syncing well with Outlook and Palm Desktop. In Windows it's convenient to make it your active desktop--you have your entire month laid out in front of you.
  • by profet (263203) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @05:48AM (#8415577)
    If you go to university you probably have dealt with the Blackboard [blackboard.com] web application and its various features.

    ArcStream makes a conduit for Blackboard called Blackboard toGo! [arcstreamsolutions.com] I have never used the software but it seems to be exactly what you are looking for.

    Again...this all stems on you already using the Blackboard software...(from what I understand most Universities in the states already do)...and you getting your University to use the Arcstream software.

    Note: I am not affiliated with ArcStream Solutions, Inc. or Blackboard Inc.
  • I was actually asking myself a similar, but more genral question. How can you have ubiquitous, but comfortable access to *all* your data? Email, calendar, 2do, ...

    One possibility would be to always use some sort of groupware suite (e.g. phpGroupWare), but:
    - they are focused on groups, not individuals
    - it's more comfortable to use a real mail/calendar/... client when you have it available than always using a webclient

    So, I was wondering if there is some sort of 'personalware', as compared to 'groupware'
    • Re:More general... (Score:5, Informative)

      by biglig2 (89374) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:09AM (#8415765) Homepage Journal
      Well, Exchange 2K3 springs to mind, although probably not a popular suggestion, and in your case probably way too big.
      The web client is almost identical to Outlook, and every PDA syncs Calendars, ToDos etc. with Outlook.
    • Re:More general... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by benjamindees (441808) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @10:20AM (#8416212) Homepage
      - they are focused on groups, not individuals

      There is no 'focusing' on groups. An individual is just a group of one. Designing for groups is the more generalized solution.

      I am much more aghast at the number of solutions that *don't* include support for groups.
    • Re:More general... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot@stefa n c o .com> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @01:26PM (#8417030) Homepage Journal
      One possibility would be to always use some sort of groupware suite (e.g. phpGroupWare), but:
      - they are focused on groups, not individuals


      On the backend, it probably doesn't make much difference if the product is focused on groups or individuals.

      In the Web UI, you could probably clean up the interface a bit to remove some of the more group-based features (We don't really need "Discussion Groups", etc.

      However, it doesn't seem that there is a simple way to sync your handhelds with PHPGroupWare or eGroupWare (It still lack a complete implementation [phpgroupware.org].
    • I've only recently been forced to use this kind of software, but I've found KDE's new Kontact to be very good. Of course, I don't publish my appointments and other personal information on the web, but you can do it if you want to.

      It doesn't do everything Outlook does, but since Outlook sucks like a Hoover, this might actually be a Good Thing(tm).

      Don't know about PDA support though.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I wanted everything you guys have been talking about, but couldn't find anything, so I wrote my own. It is still beta, and is GPL. It is on SourceForge at http://ssis.sourceforge.net/. It uses coldsync to syncronise the contents of a MySQL database, and PHP to give a web interface. It also does a basic sync with an LDAP server as well.
      I am about to do a major re-write and I could do with some help, guys !
  • Mobical.net (Score:3, Informative)

    by d99-sbr (568719) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:12AM (#8415770) Journal
    For SyncML-devices, Mobical.net [mobical.net] offers a good service. They let you synchronize contacts and calendar for free.

    I use it primarily as a backup of my contact info, in case I'd lose my cell phone. However the web interface is quite neat.

    • Re:Mobical.net (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gouldtj (21635) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @05:50PM (#8418619) Homepage Journal
      Anyone tried this with MultiSync [sourceforge.net]? It seems to provide the Palm to SyncML translation (and it will do Evolution). That would be a really cool solution if it'd work (I may have to try it now) -- but if anyone has experience that'd be great.
    • They let you synchronize contacts and calendar for free.

      The SyncML backend of Mobical is Tactel Blues, which is fairly arcane (and nowhere to be found). They apparently developed a SyncML client for Palm about 2 years ago, but it is probably wildly out of date, and won't work on current Palm handheld devices (OS5+ API, larger screens, smaller fonts, network capabilities, etc.).

      Trust me, I've looked into a lot of these solutions VERY heavily (as mentioned in my original article submission). I didn't ju

  • Web-Basec? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @08:58AM (#8415999) Homepage
    Is that some kind of new technology?

    Screw it, it's too early in the morning to make fun of /. editors.
  • Based upon your mention of PHP-based calendars, you're obviously trying to have a fully home-grown solution. But just for fun, I thought I'd mention Yahoo's calendar [yahoo.com]. It uses Intellisync to sync up their Web calendar with Outlook, Outlook Express, Palm OS handhelds, Lotus Organizer, and ACT. You might look at what they're doing, if only to see a system that works relatively well.

    (If you can't find the sync link, after you login to your calendar, look for "sync" on the upper right side.)

  • by stonebeat.org (562495) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @10:55AM (#8416357) Homepage
    Check out Steltor CorporateTime [oracle.com] by Oracle. It has a web based Calendering Client, integrates in Outlook, and support Sync to Palms and other PDAs.
  • by ctdean (202870)
    Communigate Pro [stalker.com] works for me!
  • by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot@stefa n c o .com> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @01:08PM (#8416919) Homepage Journal
    In addition, you can sync your Yahoo Calendar, Addressbook, Todo list, etc with Intellisync [yahoo.com], which is a free (beer) program.

    Installation is pretty straigtforward. It's Windows only.

    For the first fews syncs, or if the data on either Yahoo or your Palm gets out of sync, you'll have to spend some time telling Intellisync which entry is the correct entry.

    Now, if Yahoo would change their email GUI to display message threads, and let me have more then one level of subfolders, I'd be really happy.
    • Unfortunately, this does not work with tasks. I've emailed the primary Yahoo! contact within the Calendar project group, and will see what his take on it is.

      As you can see in this Outlook task [gnu-designs.com] entry, everything looks kosher. That hash in the Note field is for DateBk5 [pimlicosoftware.com]'s icons.

      When I sync to Yahoo!'s Calendar, I see something that looks like this [gnu-designs.com]. Opening the Tasks form, I see this [gnu-designs.com] output. No titles for any tasks.

      Let's focus in on the 9/18 task. Opening that one, shows this form [gnu-designs.com], where you can see the Note

  • I publish some Apple iCal calendars on my webserver and they're great for anyone who uses OS-X and iCal, they can subscribe. But what about when people just have a web browser and want to take a look at my calendar? Any iCal->HTML (or Zope) translators out there?
    • by lanej0 (118070)
      PHPiCalendar will parse iCal files server-side and display them as HTML

      http://sourceforge.net/projects/phpicalendar/
      • Thanks, I'll take a look at it, though I'd like something that doesn't rely on Apache/PHP, if only because it's something I'm not familiar with yet...
      • by hacker (14635)
        phpiCalendar is read-only, and does not allow modification of the iCal calendar files without significant restructuring of the back-end (i.e. adding MySQL, adding hooks to all of the PHP code to allow edits, locking, and so on).

        It is great, for a static "events" calendar, but it really isn't remotely close to a solution for an interactive web-based calendaring/PIM solution.

    • I don't know how much this will help you, but you can publish an iCal as HTML to a WebDAV-enabled server. I've got a .mac account so I publish mine [mac.com] that way, but WebDAV is obviously cheaper. ;)
      • Yeah, I publish to my Zope (webdav enabled) server, but I'd like to make it available via just a web browser as well. Someone else pointed out a PHP module for converting the iCal format to straight HTML, but I'm hoping to find something for Zope.
        • But I can view the link I mentioned in my last message with a browser on OS9 (which I'd class as "just a web browser", since you can't run iCal on OS9)... or do you mean you're trying to remove the bloat from the auto-generated HTML?
        • It would be nice if this went to the Plone calender as well.

          I did find this link: http://starship.python.net/pipermail/triangle-zpug /2003-August/000211.html

          and this: http://cmf.zope.org/Members/andrew/projects/CMFCal endar/examples/talkback/1051263512

          and this http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/09/23.html

          Seems like enough to get started...

  • Doesn't OpenGroupware [opengroupware.org] have pretty extensive Palm sync?
  • Both of the options you suggest are compatible with iCal on the Mac. It's pretty straightforward using iSync with that data to synchronize with a Palm.

    It's a bit magical: Here's my calendar on the Web, no -- here it is on my Desktop. Look, it's the same data on my Palm!

    For what its worth, PHP iCalendar seemed the most reliable to me when I used it.
  • by BluEyeZ (464959) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @04:04PM (#8417966)
    I currently use a little known product called InFone [infone.com]. You can access your address book and calendar on the web, and by phone. They'll even connect you out to any number you want. They have an advanced directory assistance system that will help you find the business you're looking for, even if you don't remember everything about it. The software conduit is a simple plugin that works with most of the popular PIMs (Outlook, Palm Desktop). The only drawback is for Blackberry users, as it seems to cause more than a few problems with the sync software for that device.

    Also available is a service called TeleConcierge. Most restaurants in their system allow for the operator to make reservations on your behalf. Hotel reservations are also available. Flight status, movie times, horoscopes, weather, driving directions, it's all there. Just $0.89 per call for up to 15 minutes, and just $0.05/min after that. Automatic debit from most major credit cards and there's no contract. You can access the service from any phone, home, cell, or pay. Just dial 888-411-1111.

    Best of all, the operators that answer will be in the area you're calling from, no matter where you are in the country, including Hawaii, so you'll always have a local to give you advice when you're away from home.
  • by millisa (151093) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @08:20PM (#8419542)
    Webcalendar [sourceforge.net]'s features include:

    # Export events to iCal, vCal or Palm

    # Import from vCal or Palm

    # Optional general access (no login required) to allow calendar to be viewed by people without a login (useful for event calendars)

    # Users can make their calendar available publicly to anyone with an iCal-compliant calendar program (such as Apple's iCal or Mozilla Calendar)

    • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @10:41PM (#8420234)
      #Import from vCal or Palm

      Unfortunately, it can't import the standard Palm data. I have 697 events in my calendar, which show up in Linux under Evolution and J-Pilot and with a Perl dump of DatebookDB.pdb. They also show up in Windows under Outlook and Palm Desktop.

      Following the instructions in Webcalendar, to import the datebook/datebook.dat file from the Palm Desktop setup, only imports 53 entries, mostly holidays.

      If it can't handle the format supplied, it should not advertise that it can. Clearly nobody tested this capability (and yes, I'll be reporting the bug with the Webcalendar maintainers).

      That's a blocker for me, so I stopped testing it right there.

  • I don't have an answer to the question, but I'd like to suggest that people check out Mozilla Sunbird for their calendaring needs.

    I just learned that it does not yet synch with Palm Pilots.

    http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/ [mozilla.org]

    Sunbird nightly builds:
    http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/calendar/su nbird/nightly/ [mozilla.org]
  • by invisik (227250) * on Sunday February 29, 2004 @12:19AM (#8420627) Homepage
    Hey,

    You can sync from Windows with Palm Desktop and the help of the SUSE OpenExchange palm conduits to their OpenExchange server. Works great. There also is a Linux client available, haven't tried it yet.

    OpenExchange is getting there, people!

    -m
  • by elvisior (230844) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:31AM (#8420982) Homepage Journal
    We wrote a php/oracle calendar for our university and migrated all users (30 thousand plus) to it (previously we were using netscape calendar).

    We also wrote a palm conduit for it for pc and mac..

    It has been in production for over a year now with many thousands of users using it every day.

    We were going to open source it but havent because of how oracle centric it is .. we really should have used pear to not be oracle centric.
  • There is a soap bar looking device made by danger.com, being widely sold through t-mobile cellular service. It does everything a PIM does, and it syncs automatically with a personal web interface that is included in the plan. AOL Instant messenging, and a full qwerty keyboard in a cellular phone is great. Check em out!
  • by n3xu5 (205312) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:28PM (#8433135)
    My current PDA is a Pocket PC (Dell Axim for those interested). The only builtin way to manage calendar information with the Pocket PC seemed to be through syncing with Outlook (no big surprise...it is all MS after all). I wanted to have my calendar available on the web, and use something other than Outlook on my desktop to manage my calendar. Plus, I wanted this all available on my Axim. So I decided to use the iCal format. This lead me to Mozilla calendar, which could sync with ical files on a web site using WebDAV. I then found PHPiCalendar which does a decent job of using an ical file to generate a web-based calendar. Since there appears to be no mechanism with the calendaring software on Pocket PC for exporting to ical format, I wrote a little application to export the contents of my Axim's calendar and upload it to my website via WebDAV. Since I use WiFi at home on my PDA from time to time, I update my calendar on my PDA and upload the changes to my website. My web-based calendar is instantly updated, and Mozilla calendar can simply refresh and grab the latest copy of the ical file from the web site. So far I've been pleased with the results. The Pocket PC app is currently limited to exporting only. I plan on adding the ability to import and resolve any conflicts, but so far that has not been a priority. Don't know if that helps any of the Palm folks much, but maybe some of the Pocket PC users out there may be interested.
  • http://www.wesync.com
    had a Web i/f prepared; but the droids 'in charge' of Palm, pre-split, buried it, just like they buried the PalmOS5 version of WeSync (which, BTW, WORKS GREAT!).

    WeSync syncs up to fourteen calendars, and has a Windows desktop component so you can see what's going on without a Palm. Wireless syncs work just dandy, have ever since I got my first wireless Palm.

    It also does address book syncs for shared contacts. It is the Killer App for married Palm users. Really. And, it's free.

    Sur

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