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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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The GroupCal Servlet

As we saw in Part I, we tend to ask more of email than it can deliver. Conferencing can help restore email to its realm of appropriate use while providing an alternate venue for groupthink activities. But newsgroups, too, have their limits. A private newsgroup is a great place to share drafts of work in progress or to discuss travel plans. You don’t want to go there, though, to find out whether Bob turned in the report that was due yesterday or to find out who’s going to be at the conference next week.

These kinds of things belong in a calendar. Unfortunately, Internet calendaring isn’t yet as standard or as universal as the core mail/news/Web services. Netscape and Microsoft both offer calendar servers—but they’re quite different creatures. Netscape’s Calendar Server works only with Communicator’s Calendar client. Likewise, the calendaring features of Microsoft’s Exchange Server, though exportable to web clients, work best with the Exchange client. The standard Internet client doesn’t yet include a calendar client that can interoperate with mature, open, standard, and multiply implemented calendar servers.

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) committees are working to define a framework for standard Internet calendaring and scheduling (see http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/calsch-charter.html). Works in progress include iCalendar, a MIME type specialized to represent things like people, appointments, and todo items; and Calendar Access Protocol ...

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