CalConnect Workshop on the Veterans Administration Scheduling System – background and update

The Workshop will be Wednesday afternoon May 21st at CalConnect XXX at AOL in Dulles, Virginia

CalConnect was founded almost 10 years ago as a collaboration between calendaring and scheduling vendors and users, to further interoperability between calendaring and scheduling implementations, and work towards this purpose by driving the evolution of calendaring and scheduling standards through technical committee work, holding regular interoperability testing events, and hosting conferences each year.

Over the last few years, in the spirit of influencing and being influenced by the world, CalConnect has held open workshops on topics that the CalConnect membership was considering working in but were not necessarily themselves the subject matter experts, areas which perhaps medieval cartographers might have labeled terra incognita or mare incognitum. Healthcare is one such area for us.

In late 2012, The U.S. Veterans Administration announced a “prize contest” to “…encourage creation of systems that help Veterans make appointments to receive outpatient and ambulatory care from the Veterans Health Administration” and ultimately “…to replace the current Medical Scheduling Package (MSP) with a scheduling product which is a standards-based, modular, extensible and scalable …”

Recently, when the winning proposals were announced, we decided to use the VA Scheduling Contest as a jump point to explore the importance of open calendaring and scheduling standards with respect to Healthcare IT, and what changes/additions to these same standards would facilitate healthcare IT for patients, providers, and software developers. Out of this discussion we are hoping to learn, at a functional level, what does Healthcare have today in C&S, what does HealthCare need in C&S that they do not have today, and what Healthcare will need tomorrow. We anticipate that CalConnect, in partnership with Healthcare IT, will undertake work in this area if needs are identified.

With only two weeks to go before the Workshop (and CalConnect Conference), we are very pleased with the response the workshop has engendered. We have participants and attendees from Industry, the VA, and Non-profits coming together with the CalConnect membership.

The program consists of some brief presentations to introduce and contextualize healthcare scheduling, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Scott Mace, Senior Editor – Technology at HealthLeaders Media and a member of the CalConnect board of directors. Following the panel discussion is the conference reception, intended as an informal and more social opportunity to continue the engaged interaction and participation we anticipate that the Workshop will engender.

It is not too late to register for the workshop. If you would like to join us, please see CalConnect Workshop Registration.

Registration Opens for CalConnect XXX at AOL in Dulles, Virginia – May 19-23 2014

Registration is now open and hotel reservations are available for CalConnect XXX in Dulles, Virginia, May 19-23, 2014. The logistics page is located at and contains hotel booking information, locations, meeting venue, travel information, etc.

Our meeting venue is AOL’s Steve Crane Center at 22000 AOL Way, about 2 miles from Dulles International Airport.

The Doubletree Sterling/Dulles Airport is our Conference Hotel. The hotel is about 4 miles from the airport, and runs a 24-hour shuttle between the airport and the hotel which also stops at AOL. Booking at our rate is done through AOL Travel Services; information is available via the logistics page links above.

As always, the first half of the week will be an Interoperability Test Event and the last half, starting Wednesday with lunch, will be the CalConnect Conference. In addition to the regular Technical Committee sessions and possible BOFs we expect to have report-outs from the Contacts Sharing Provisional Committee and the FSC (Federated Shared Calendar) Ad Hoc/Provisional Committee.

We are pleased to announce that there will be a special Workshop on the VA Scheduling System on Wednesday afternoon during the Conference, open to the public by registration and to all participants at the Interoperability Test Event and the Conference.

In late 2012, The U.S. Veterans Administration announced a “prize contest” to “…encourage creation of systems that help Veterans make appointments to receive outpatient and ambulatory care from the Veterans Health Administration.” and to ultimately “…to replace the current Medical Scheduling Package (MSP) with a scheduling product which is a standards-based, modular, extensible and scalable, …”

Recently, the winning proposals were announced. One of the winning teams has accepted our invitation to attend, and to present at, the workshop.

The workshop is to discuss health care scheduling requirements, especially in the context of the Veterans’ Administration Scheduling System challenge, to examine possible changes or additions to the standards and drafts to better support the scheduling for health care.

Please contact us with any questions. We welcome observers and please note that you may register for the Workshop on Wednesday afternoon with no charge.

Observations from CalConnect XXIX in San Francisco

CalConnect held its twenty-ninth interoperability test event and Roundtable Technical Conference the week of February 3-7 in San Francisco, California. The event was hosted by CalConnect founding member Mozilla, which did a great job with not only the event logistics, but also making everyone feel very welcome, which was reflected in the very strong attendance at these events.

36 people, representing 21 CalConnect member organizations and one observer, participated during the week. Almost a quarter of the attendees traveled internationally to come to CalConnect XXIX, from the Czech Republic, England, France, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand and Switzerland. Attendance at CalConnect events is growing, international membership and participation are bringing new energy and perspectives to CalConnect.

We have just published the first architectural diagrams for Tasks from TC TASKS and for Calendaring and Scheduling from TC API.

Here’s what’s trending from CalConnect XXIX:

Trending – Membership

Six of the seven new “Emergent Vendor” members (a new membership category for small vendors and startups) were represented at CalConnect XXIX, including, our newest member.

Trending – Technical Committees (TC’s) and Provisional Committees (PC’s)

  • TC PUSH (PUSH protocol for CalDAV and CardDAV)
  • TC ISCHEDULE (intersystem iTIP scheduling via HTTP)
  • TC TASKS (VTODO extensions for new scheduling areas such as logistics, project and energy management)
  • TC API (Abstract API for Calendaring and Scheduling) was established from the provisional committee of the same name
  • TC FREEBUSY Demo-ed a prototype web client supporting VPOLL
  • A Contacts Sharing Provisional Committee was established to look at developing a single standard for Contacts Sharing

Trending – Interoperability testing

The interoperability testing was very successful, with 23 participants from 13 organizations. The CalDAV Test Suite is rapidly being evolved into a really useful general testing tool for CalDAV servers. A more detailed accounting of the interoperability testing will be available at CalConnect Interoperability Test Event Reports.

Trending – Documents/Standards

Much of the work in CalConnect is focused on specifications to become internet draft submissions to the IETF and ultimately be progressed to become RFCs (Proposed Standards), rather than be directly published by CalConnect itself.

Recently published CalConnect documents:

Calendaring Service Architecture
Task Architecture V0.4
Report on Roundtable XXIX
Report on Interoperability Test Event XXIX
7 Things You Should Know About Digital Travel Itineraries
7 Things You Should Know About Tasks

Recently updated internet drafts and published RFCs:

jCard: The JSON Format for vCard (RFC 7095)
Non-Gregorian Recurrence Rules in iCalendar
Support for iCalendar Relationships
jCal: The JSON format for iCalendar
Use of the Prefer Header Field in Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV)
CalDAV Managed Attachments
New Properties for iCalendar
Timezone Service Protocol
Calendar Availability (VAVAILABILITY)
Event Publishing Extensions to iCalendar

Trending – Organizationally

To facilitate broader understanding, CalConnect has retired the name “Roundtable” as used for its thrice-yearly conference and members’ meeting and will use the term “CalConnect Conference” or “Conference” going forward. The term “Ad Hoc” to describe a short-term exploratory committee has been retired, and will be replaced by “Provisional Committee”.

Wrapping it all together

CalConnect wishes to again thank Mozilla for helping to make CalConnect XXIX such a productive and enjoyable week.

At our next event, CalConnect XXX, to be hosted by AOL in Dulles, Virginia in May, we are planning to hold a public workshop on the Medical Appointment Scheduling System Contest sponsored by the Veterans Administration, with participation from the VA and from the winning team in the contest. We expect this will be a half-day workshop available to the public (by registration) and will be publishing more information as it becomes available.

A chance to observe – CalConnect in San Francisco next week

If you’re based or currently in the Bay Area and are interested in calendaring, next week is your chance to be an observer at the 29th CalConnect event at Mozilla, February 3-7 2014. The week is divided in half – the first half is an interoperability test event; the second half (Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon) is the technical conference and members’ meeting.

Non-members may always participate or observe at the interoperability test event – and we have a provision for non-members to come to a single technical conference as observers to find out more about CalConnect and what’s going on.

If you want to find out more check out the event web page at and the schedule for the week. You can find the registration information at Observing at the interoperability test event is only $350, and attending the technical conference as an Observer is now $395 (includes breakfast, lunch, a Wednesday reception and Thursday dinner).

There’s lot’s going on this time; check out the Schedule and Topical Agendas. The meeting is at Mozilla, Harrison Street at The Embarcadero. Come check us out!

If you have any questions drop me a note: Dave Thewlis or call +1 707 840 9391.

CalConnect establishes technical committee to develop PUSH for CalDAV (and CardDAV)

TC PUSH was formed to extend CalDAV and CardDAV with standardized support for PUSH notifications.

At present CalDAV and CardDAV clients have to poll the server at regular intervals to check for changes. To provide a close to “real time” user experience and present updates and notifications almost immediately to the user, a client has to poll at a high frequencies, possibly at the expense of higher consumption of resources like bandwidth and traffic, processing time and battery power.

TC PUSH will define methods to advertise/discover PUSH protocols supported by a server. In addition it will specify a generic PUSH protocol based on existing WebDAV technologies that can be used when no other PUSH method is available. To help implementers TC PUSH will provide guidelines to PUSH support on servers and clients.

See more about TC PUSH and its Charter and proposed deliverables at

CalConnect seeks assistance from travel industry technology experts

CalConnect needs your help! We are seeking guidance and assistance from travel industry technology experts to explore the travel itinerary model within calendaring and scheduling.

Traditional travel agencies have given way to travel that is booked directly by the traveler him/herself, using online services providing digital transactions from end to end – searching/selection, booking, payment, ticketing, itineraries, and other ancillary services. Many of these online systems are impressive in their capabilities and their comprehensiveness. However, much of their sophistication is the result of proprietary mechanisms which provide great workflow within their systems, but integrate less successfully with other calendaring & scheduling systems and third party applications.

It is equally true, however, that calendaring and scheduling standards do not really accommodate the needs of today’s (or tomorrow’s) online travel system. Frequently, the data has to be provided as unstructured text because no specific properties exist for the types of information provided. As a result the itinerary information cannot be created and managed by the end users as a native part of their calendar applications.

In the context of our mission to promote interoperable, standards-based calendaring & scheduling, CalConnect is endeavoring to identify the necessary additions and extensions required to the calendaring standards (in particular iCalendar, the “data model”) to fully support travel itineraries as an integrated element in a user’s calendar, and itineraries as elements in automated processes, and to add the additions and extensions to the standards.

However, we need the guidance and assistance of travel industry technology experts to identify what elements are required, and to fully explore the travel itinerary model within calendaring and scheduling. Our initial goal is to develop a set of use cases and requirements for digital itinerary systems to enhance the usefulness of calendar data. We anticipate this work taking place over a six month period via periodic conference calls and online communication. Following on from this CalConnect will develop the enhancements to the calendaring standards themselves to satisfy the identified industry requirements and use cases.

Therefore, we are forming a working group, a collaboration between the calendaring & scheduling experts from the CalConnect member organizations, and travel industry experts, and are seeking help in finding these experts. To learn how you can participate, or identify someone who might participate, please contact Dave Thewlis, CalConnect’s Executive Director, at:
+1 707 840 9391

For additional background on travel itineraries and calendaring and scheduling see “7 Things about Digital Travel Itineraries” at

To learn more about becoming a member of CalConnect, see

CalConnect’s focus is interoperable calendaring and scheduling. Through promoting, advising, educating, and the work of our technical committees, we advance the state of interoperable calendaring and of interoperable scheduling. CalConnect is a 501(c)6 tax-exempt mutual benefit association incorporated in 2004. We are a member-driven organization – our agenda and our work products all result from the leadership by participants from our member organizations. The consortium is a partnership between vendors of calendaring & scheduling systems and tools, and users of those tools in North America, Europe, and Asia. Our membership includes some of the world’s largest software development organizations, as well as emergent vendors and startups, end user organizations, interested individuals, and research universities. CalConnect’s members believe that through the collegial interactions and collaborations among erstwhile competitors in the marketplace, calendaring & scheduling vendors and consumers all benefit.

CalConnect closes XML Technical Committee: work completed

TC-XML was chartered to develop a two-way reference mapping of iCalendar to XML (and later to JSON), and to develop a core abstract calendaring API and web services bindings for that API.

TC-XML developed both XML and JSON representations for iCalendar data, respectively xCal and jCal, and produced drafts published at the IETF (xCal is now RFC 6321, jCal is in final review). In addition, TC-XML supported an ongoing liaison with OASIS and worked with them on SOAP and Rest API’s for calendaring, as part of the “smart grid” work by the OASIS WS-Calendar technical committee. The SOAP and Rest API’s have been published as CalConnect documents and also incorporated into the OASIS WS-Calendar specification. Additional IETF drafts have been produced for new properties used by that work, and are being used by other TCs (e.g. TC-TASKS) and will progress at the IETF along with the other TC’s work.

As a follow-on for TC-XML, we have identified a need to codify a complete, generic calendar store API, and a new Ad Hoc committee within CalConnect is now working on developing a strategy to move forward with that work. The Ad Hoc committee will also be responsible for the liaison effort with OASIS WS-Calendar until a new Technical Committee is formed.

Work Products:

xCal: The XML Format for iCalendar (RFC 6321)
CalWS-Rest Restful Web Services Protocol for Calendaring
CalWS-SOAP SOAP Web Services Protocol for Calendar
jCal: The JSON Format for iCalendar (IETF Draft)


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