CALCONNECT ANNOUNCES NEW MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES AND INTEROPERABILITY TEST EVENT FEES

CALCONNECT ANNOUNCES NEW MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES AND INTEROPERABILITY TEST EVENT FEES

Membership Categories and Fees

In response to suggestions from interested potential members, CalConnect has established two new membership categories. The first is a new small commercial vendor membership for vendors with revenues in the $0-$5M range. This membership is equivalent to existing commercial vendor memberships but applicable for vendors who have not yet reached $5M in annual revenue. The second new category is an Emergent Vendor membership, intended for small, new endeavors. This membership has an initial membership fee for the first year of only $1,000. The fee rises over the next two years; at the end of three years, the Emergent Vendor member becomes a regular Commercial Vendor member in the appropriate fee class based on its revenues at that point. Only one member representative may be appointed by an Emergent Vendor member in the course of a membership year. The Emergent Vendor membership is also offered a reduced Interoperability Test Event fee as discussed below. See Membership Fees for more information and a table of fees.

Interoperability Test Event Fees

Several changes have been made to the Interoperability Test Event fee structure. The regular commercial vendor member fee has been changed from $1795 to $1800 (to make the numbers more rational). Additional participants have been changed from $150 to $200 to ensure CalConnect doesn’t actually lose money for each one (additional participants for the host are also $200).

Non-vendor member participation fees remain unchanged at $350 per person.

Non-member participation fees have been reduced to $1800 for one participant and $600 for each additional participant.

The new Emergent Vendor Member participation fee is $800 for one person.

See Interoperability Test Event Fees for more information and a table of member categories and related fees.

On a recent petition to eliminate the time change caused by Daylight Savings Time

A petition has been initiated on the White House petition site to eliminate the twice-yearly time shift caused by Daylight Savings Time, either by eliminating it completely or imposing it all year.

CalConnect has no stance either for or against the suggestion itself. However, we strongly advise that any decision to change the current DST rules be made long in advance to allow enough time for the necessary changes to software and computer systems which accommodate DST.

In 2005, Congress decided to change the start and end dates of Daylight Savings Time to provide three more weeks of DST in March, and one more week at the end of the year; so called “Extended Daylight Savings Time”. This was signed into law as the Energy Policy Act of 2005. CalConnect submitted an Advisory document shortly before the EDST legislation was signed, recommending as much time as possible because the scope of the change was so broad and affected so much. In that document we noted:

Anything that keeps a calendar, including cell phones, is potentially affected. Many embedded environmental systems such as building management systems, time-lock control, work-shift and time clocks, may also be affected. It is also not clear whether other countries that currently share the
same timezone and DST definitions as the US will adopt the new definitions at the same time, or stay with the current ones. This has serious impact for cross-border commerce as for two months in the year, regions of the US will have a local time one hour different than similar regions in other countries.

The law allowed 18 months before the new rules went into effect in March of 2007. During that time, CalConnect published a Review and Considerations document and followed it with a set of Links, Advisories and Changes, noting:

This document is a compilation of links to vendor-provided advisories, technical notes, change documents, and the like. Its primary purpose is to try and consolidate in one place links to references for Calendaring and Scheduling systems and major underlying operating systems, but links for related products and services will be provided when possible.

In the event, the actual change in 2007 caused considerable disruption, much of it in the Calendaring and Scheduling area due to necessary fixes and patches either not being distributed in time, or not being applied to the C&S systems.

A change to the DST rules today would have a far broader effect than five years ago, and of course far broader than calendaring and scheduling. The effect on areas as diverse as financial, travel, logistics and shipping, and in particular embedded systems, is likely to be extremely disruptive, and would spread even to the level of “intelligent” thermostats in the home. The impact can only be mitigated by serious and early attention on the part of the builders and vendors of any software, firmware and devices which accommodate DST, and a similar diligence on the part of the customers owning the software and devices.

Within CalConnect, after EDST went into effect we realized that much of the impact of the change was due to actual timezone definition data being resident in systems. In EDST Reflections and Recommendations, published in April of 2007, we offered some recommendations. Much of our subsequent focus in the area of timezones has been towards a Timezone Service protocol, which would allow systems and devices connected to the internet, calendaring and others, to obtain timezone information when needed rather than having it embedded in the systems themselves, and thus would not have to be modified to accommodate changes in DST definitions. Whether such a protocol can be in widespread use in time for any future DST change is questionable, but ultimately the adoption of such a mechansim will go a long way towards shielding users from the effects of DST transition changes.

CalConnect establishes CALSCALE Ad Hoc Committee to consider non-Gregorian calendar rules

CalConnect has established the CALSCALE Ad Hoc Committee to determine changes and extensions necessary to iCalendar to allow recurrences to accommodate non-Gregorian calendar rules, and will develop a draft specification to be submitted to the IETF for broader discussion within the entire IETF community. The Ad Hoc is intended to complete its work and report out at the CalConnect meeting in June 2013.

CalConnect Calendar Developers and System Administrators Public Discussion Lists

CalConnect offers two general public discussion lists for calendaring and scheduling, one primarily for calendaring system developers and one for system administrators of calendaring and scheduling systems. Each list has a home page on the CalConnect website with information about the purpose of the list, charter and rules of use, and a link to subscribe, maintain, and unsubscribe. Each list has well over 100 subscribers.

CalConnect public discussion lists are moderated, and new subscription requests must be approved to be activated. Only subscribers may post to lists, or receive postings from the list. The list archives are publicly available.

Calendar and Scheduling Developer List

CalConnect has implemented this public discussion list (caldeveloper-l@lists.calconnect.org) for discussion of calendaring and scheduling developers’ issues and questions. The Charter and Rules of Use for this list are given on the list’s web page at the link above. We invite all calendar developers and other interested parties to subscribe to this list and make use of it.

The primary audience and expected participants are calendaring and scheduling system developers, and others working on calendaring-related and scheduling-related projects. However, the list is open to any and all participants that agree to and adhere to the rules of use.

Calendaring and Scheduling Sysadmin List

The Calendaring and Scheduling Admin Mailing List (caladmin-l@lists.calconnect.org) exists to foster discussion about all aspects of calendaring and scheduling system administration and management. This includes, but is not limited to, C&S platforms and applications, emerging C&S standards, message flows, access control, unsolicited or bulk agenda invitations (SPCAL), account management, virus vectors, disaster recovery, and interactions with closely related collaborative technologies.

The primary audience and expected participants are calendaring and scheduling system administrators. However, the list is open to any and all participants that agree to and adhere to the rules of use.

CalConnect Establishes TC TASKS Technical Committee

CalConnect has established a new Technical Committee, TC TASKS, following the report-out of the VTODO Ad Hoc Committee. The TC’s Charter is to “Extend the functionality of the iCalendar and specifically VTODO object model to provide enhanced support for tasks including needs such as project management, smart power grids and business task scheduling, in a way that allows a calendaring system to manage the data and calendaring clients to display and change it.”

The new Technical Commitee has a very aggressive schedule and deliverables (see the charter and schedule at TC TASKS Charter).

Member representatives of CalConnect members are welcome to participate in the new Technical Committee. Non-members interested in this activity are encouraged to join CalConnect and participate in the work of TC TASKS.

Interoperable Calendaring means never, never, ever having to enter an appointment on more than one machine

In the context of CalConnect’s mission, to advance interoperable calendaring & scheduling in practical and useful ways, one of our major activities is to promote open-standards based calendaring and scheduling to the general public as well as the information technology industry. From time to time, we receive unsolicited help in bringing our message to the general public, such as David Pogue’s column in last week’s New York Times, “Bringing the Calendar Up to Date” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/technology/personaltech/mixing-and-matching-to-create-the-near-perfect-digital-calendar-state-of-the-art.html?pagewanted=all).

The majority of Pogue’s article is concerning with calendar program user interfaces, and his suggestion that perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift in calendar UI’s. These issues are largely the province of the creative people and companies which produce end-user calendaring products, and the consumers who will ultimately decide which paradigms to accept, and which products to adopt and/or purchase.

However, at the very end, Pogue ventures into the heart of CalConnect’s territory, “Finally, it goes without saying (sic) that all modern calendars should sync. To other computers. To our phones. To the web. We should never, never, ever have to enter an appointment on more than one machine.”

There is more to interoperable calendaring and scheduling than just entering events only once, such as open standards which provide for a rich set of features which developers find practical to implement to produce the new UI’s Pogue advocates, facilitating scheduling across disparate calendaring systems and/or machine processes, preserving data integrity and semantics across systems, to give just a few examples.

However, Pogue’s almost parenthetical aside goes to the heart of a lot of it, and a lot of what CalConnect is doing today. Although CalConnect is not a formal standards development organization, virtually every important calendaring or calendaring-related standard over the last five years has been authored, edited and/or coedited by members of a CalConnect Technical Committee.

And our work in progress, in areas such as open, interoperable server to server scheduling (iSCHEDULE), standardized data representations in XML and (now) JSON, calendaring web services (in collaboration with OASIS in the context of the NIST “Smart Gird” initiative), timezone services, improved sharing of calendars and contacts, calendar alarms and attachments, extensions to provide richer expression of public events on the web, to name some of the areas our technical committees are working in.

Whereas many of these features exist today in some products, the implementations are proprietary, or work across only selected products. This is also true in another area we are working on, consensus scheduling, which is the process whereby a group comes to agreement on when (and maybe where) to hold a meeting or carry out a task, or identifies the “best” time – maximizing participation, minimizing inconvenience, to schedule an event or perform a task. Consensus scheduling minimizes the overhead of achieving consensus or identifying the most favorable time(s) by allowing the potential participants to observe the responses of the other voters, and to use any scheduling flexibility they may have to adjust their response for the benefit of the entire group.

There are many excellent products in this space, and some work with some other products in a limited context, but there is no open standard which allows you to choose a product and be confident it will work with all the calendaring/scheduling products you use today, and those which you may find yourself using tomorrow.

At our next member meeting, later this month, hosted by Oracle in Santa Clara, CA, we will be holding a “consensus scheduling” workshop. This workshop is open to non-members and there is no fee to attend or participate.

The “ProfHacker” blog in the “Chronicle of Higher Education” has a number of entries on consensus scheduling products and concepts. These posts by George Williams are a good place to start:

http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/scheduling-101-the-ideal-academic-app/22969
http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/scheduling-101-a-few-updates-and-announcements/34823

CalConnect is truly a “partnership between vendors of calendaring and scheduling systems and tools, and users of those tools…” Although neither David Pogue, nor the New York Times, are members of CalConnect, a situation easily rectified, articles such as these not only help inform the general public, the “users of these tools”, but also inform the discussion and work of CalConnect and its members, and ultimately, new open standards (or changes to existing standards), and the resulting products which we will be using in the future.

Gary Schwartz
President, CalConnect, The Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium

CalConnect Consensus Scheduling Workshop – January 30, 2013, at CalConnect Roundtable XXVI

CalConnect, the Calendaring & Scheduling Consortium (http://www.calconnect.org), will hold an open Workshop on Consensus Scheduling in conjunction with its member meeting, Roundtable XXVI, on Wednesday afternoon, 30 January, 2013, at Oracle Corporation in Santa Clara.

This workshop will examine the state of the art with respect to consensus scheduling, and explore directions to integrate consensus scheduling into calendaring and scheduling standards and products, to enable interoperability and make consensus scheduling part of the full functionality of calendaring and scheduling products. There will be a presentation and discussion on CalConnect’s work in progress on VPOLL, a proposed new component for iCalendar in support of consensus scheduling.

Participation in the workshop is open to interested individuals and organizations, regardless of whether or not they work for CalConnect members, and whether they are otherwise registered for the CalConnect Roundtable or Interoperability Test Event. No fee will be charged for attending the workshop; however you will need to register in advance unless you have registered for the Roundtable, as space is limited.

Attendees are invited to attend the CalConnect Roundtable as observers, or to consider participating in the CalConnect Interoperability Test Event in the first half of the week.

Tentative Agenda:
1. Introduction – about CalConnect and about Consensus Scheduling
2. Participants lightning talks and discussion – vendors, experience as a user, user requirements or wishlists, etc.
3. Review of existing products
4. Review of CalConnect proposal
    a. Use cases (what is in scope, out of scope)
    b. Technical solution – VPOLL
    c. Interaction with CalDAV
5. Conclusion – what to do from here
    a. How to further promote the VPOLL work
    b. VPOLL testing at the next Interoperability Test Event

Venue:

The meeting will be held at the Oracle campus in Santa Clara, California as part of CalConnect Roundtable XXVI:  4040 Palm Drive, Santa Clara, California 95054. We will be in Building 23, Conference Room 1730.

Schedule:

The workshop will be held from 1:30 to 5:30 Wednesday afternoon, January 30th. Workshop attendees are invited to stay for the reception beginning at 6:00.

Registration and information:

To register for the workshop only, please see http://www.calconnect.org/workshopreg.shtml. To register for the CalConnect Roundtable and/or Interoperability Test Event, please see http://www.calconnect.org/regtypes.shtml.

Logistics information for the workshop and for the CalConnect event: http://www.calconnect.org/calconnect26.shtml.

More About Consensus Scheduling

Consensus scheduling is the process whereby a group comes to agreement on when (and maybe where) to hold a meeting or carry out a task, by identifying the “best” time or location to help maximize participation and minimize inconvenience.  Consensus scheduling minimizes the overhead of achieving consensus or identifying the most favorable time(s) by allowing the potential participants to observe the responses of the other voters, and to adjust their response for the benefit of the entire group. This has significant benefits over “traditional” group scheduling methods which typically involve the exchange of many messages between participants, each trying to come to agreement.  

Although there are a variety of consensus scheduling products and services available, it is not available in most full featured calendaring products, especially enterprise products. Consensus scheduling is not part of calendaring and scheduling standards, and each site and service provides different features and functionality, provides custom integrations with a subset of other calendaring and scheduling services and products, and has differing requirements for user access – authentication and authorization. As some people prefer one consensus service over the others, participants in many formal and/or informational groups may have to register and/or use many different services or sites in the course of their professional and personal activities.

CalConnect has for some time been working on developing a consensus scheduling solution that builds on the internet calendar standards of iCalendar and iTIP (the traditional solution to standards-based calendaring and scheduling).  CalConnect’s approach creates a new iCalendar component, VPOLL, and defines an iTIP process by which “polls” can be sent to participants and votes collected from them.  CalConnect’s work also looks at how this process can be integrated with calendaring system, such as those built on the standard CalDAV calendar server protocol, with the goal of providing more automation for voting and streamlining the decision process for voters.

Please see http://www.calconnect.org/7_things_consensus_scheduling.shtml for a further introduction to consensus scheduling and why it matters to calendaring and scheduling.

Previous CalConnect Workshops:

CalConnect has previously held workshops on vCard, Timezones, Contacts, and Tasks (VTODOs).

Interoperability Testing at CalConnect XXVI, January 28-30, 2013

The Interoperability Test Event will take place all day Monday and Tuesday, January 28-29, and Wednesday morning January 30th during CalConnect XXVI, hosted by Oracle in Santa Clara, California. For information about event logistics please see http://www.calconnect.org/calconnect26.shtml.

At this point we are planning testing in the following areas (Updated 30 November 2012):

  • CalDAV testing:
    • access (basic operations of CalDAV)
    • scheduling
    • sync report
    • mobile
    • managed attachments
    • sharing
  • iSchedule:
    • Server discovery
    • DKIM security – latest changes for header normalization
  • Timezone:
    • Service Protocol (new JSON spec)
    • Timezones by Reference
  • VPOLL initial testing
  • Autodiscovery protocol
  • iCalendar:
    • richtext properties (and hashing)
    • iTIP/iMIP
    • jCal, the JSON Format for iCalendar
    • xCal, the XML Format for iCalendar
  • CardDAV testing:
    • generic
    • Sync report
    • mobile
    • vcard 4?
  • CalWS-REST and CalWS-SOAP, the web services protocols for iCalendar and WS-Calendar

In addition, participants may have other areas they wish to test and we will be happy to include them in our planning; the test event registration form provides a place to indicate what you want to test. In all cases at least two participating organizations must be interested in testing a particular area or scenario to form testing pairs.

Your organization need not be a member of CalConnect to participate in an Interoperability Test Event.

The information page for the Interoperability Test event is at http://www.calconnect.org/iop1301.shtml. This page also includes any updates to the planned or confirmed testing areas since this blog post.

VTODO Ad Hoc Committee Established

CalConnect has established an Ad Hoc Committee to review the state of the VTODO component of iCalendar, together with outstanding requirements and use cases from other current work. The committee is to report out at Roundtable XXVI and will recommend possible future work in this area to CalConnect.

Interoperability Testing at CalConnect XXV in Zurich

This was a relatively large session with 22 on-site participants, 14 from Europe, representing the following organizations/implementations:

  • Apple (iCal Server, iCal Client, iCloud Server, iCloud Outlook Client, IOS 6)
  • Bedework
  • CalDAV-Sync and CardDAV-Sync
  • Evolution plugin
  • EGroupware
  • emClient
  • Google
  • Kerio Technologies
  • Mozilla Lightning
  • SabreDAV
  • Zimbra

In addition we had the following participate externally:

  • AOL (AOL Calendar Server)
  • CMU (Cyrus Calendar Server)
  • DaviCal
  • Oracle (Oracle Communications Calendar Server)

A number of those present concentrated on iSchedule with DKIM and discovery. Testing was fairly intensive and a number of issues were found with the draft protocol as well as with server implementations. A number of servers managed to successfully connect and interact with each other, handling freebusy requests and meeting invitations and replies.

Testing of sharing and notifications also took place with a fairly successful outcome for all. Bugs in the client and server software were found and sometimes even rectified.

Discovery was also a hot topic and there were a number of issues discovered in the current use of .well-known and SRV records. The Brief and Prefer header also got some testing with some participants.

In addition there were many issues raised when testing the basic CalDAV and CardDAV access protocols. The kinds of issues seen were:

  • Misreporting of missing DAV properties
  • Problems with content type
  • Redirections causing issues
  • Lack of support for required properties
  • Errors in report formats

As ever, the benefits of working together in one room to discover and fix interoperability issues were enormous. Most of the participants test remotely during the year but these sessions provide a much more productive environment. Many participants were staying for the following Roundtable and took the opportunity to continue testing quietly with each other.

Mike Douglass, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
CalConnect Interoperability Test Event Manager

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