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:

Dave.Thewlis@calconnect.org
+1 707 840 9391

For additional background on travel itineraries and calendaring and scheduling see “7 Things about Digital Travel Itineraries” at http://www.calconnect.org/7_things_itineraries.shtml.

To learn more about becoming a member of CalConnect, see http://calconnect.org/whyjoin.shtml.

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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)

Exploring New Work Areas for CalConnect

At last week’s CalConnect Roundtable XXVIII in Prague, we established Ad Hoc Committees to explore three new potential areas of work, APIs Federated Shared Calendars, and CalDAV “Push”. Additionally we decided to continue the work of the existing “Itinerary” Ad Hoc.

The Ad Hoc Committees will make recommendations at the next CalConnect event in February whether these Ad Hocs should be chartered as Technical Committees, continue as Ad Hoc Committees, or be disbanded.

In greater detail, the three new areas of work are:

API Ad Hoc

A follow-on to our XML Technical Committee, this Ad Hoc will consider further work in the areas of web services and formal APIs for Calendaring and Scheduling. The goal is to define a standard interface into any Calendaring and Scheduling system.

FSC Ad Hoc

The FSC or “Federated Shared Calendars” Ad Hoc will consider sharing calendars between different calendaring systems, both direct scheduling via iSchedule, as well as subscribed calendar sharing, with the goal of improving the user experience and providing capabilities which can be implemented by major and small service providers alike.

PUSH Ad Hoc

*PUSH is not currently part of the CalDAV standard, and some server vendors have implemented proprietary solutions. This Ad Hoc will consider how to accomplish PUSH with HTTP/WebDAV technology in a standardized way, for use with a variety of device types in different networking environments. The goal is to develop an extension to the standard(s) to help define existing mechanisms in a more interoperable way, as well as create, or make use of, a standard PUSH technology.

ITINERARY Ad Hoc

The Itinerary Ad Hoc was established at a previous Roundtable and has been exploring ways to improve the overall user experience when dealing with digital itineraries by making use of iCalendar to provide richer information that can be exposed to users and third-party applications in a consistent manner. The Itinerary Ad Hoc is looking to involve experts in the area of travel itineraries in this work, to provide suitable input into the nature of problems and determine what needs to be addressed.

*A PUSH notification is a signal from a server to a client that data has changed on the server, probably due to some activity not directly caused by the client receiving the push notification. Push notifications can provide an immediate signal that data has changed on the server, and thus avoid the need for clients to regularly “poll” the server looking for changes. This provides an overall better user experience, as well as potentially reducing server loads and lowering client power usage.

Interoperability Testing at CalConnect XXVIII

The Interoperability Test Event at CalConnect XXVIII featured 5 clients and 8 CalDAV servers tested by 13 on-site participants and two remote. In addition to the “regular” CalDAV and iMIP client/server and server/server testing, significant achievements include

  • First (and successful) tests of jCal, the JSON format for iCalendar, tested for at least three servers
  • CalDAV Managed Attachments, tested by multiple clients and servers
  • Timezones By Reference (including servers/clients behavior if timezone data not sent, and CalDAV extensions to advertise Timezones by Reference (e.g. Timezone Service Protocol enabled)
  • Initial testing of Prefer Header, a new specification allowing a WebDAV client to request certain behaviors be implemented by a server while constructing a response to a successful request
  • VPOLL support on servers and interaction with existing clients
  • Testing new VTODO properties/values defined by CalConnect TC-TASKS to verify they are supported by servers and clients
  • In-depth review of the CalDAV Tester Suite and how to implement and use it

We invite everyone interested in interoperability testing to join the test event at Mozilla in San Francisco at CalConnect XXIX, February 3-7, 2014.

Cyrus Daboo of Apple Third Recipient of CalConnect Distinguished Service Award

CalConnect is honored to announce that Cyrus Daboo of Apple is the third recipient of the CalConnect Service Award. The award was presented at CalConnect XXVIII on September 25, 2013.

Cyrus earned his Doctorate in Physics from Cambridge University in the U.K.. and moved to the United States after working as a Research Associate at Cambridge in the mid-1990s. In the U.S. he founded his own firm and developed Mulberry, a calendaring and e-mail client adopted largely in the academic sector, which he eventually made an open source project.

Cyrus became involved with calendaring and scheduling in the process, and with the IETF. He was one of the original authors of the CalDAV standard, and was involved in the establishment of CalConnect, as he attended the original formation meeting in Montreal in 2004. His firm, Isamet, became one of the founding members of CalConnect and Cyrus has been at, and involved in, every CalConnect event.

In early 2006 Cyrus went to Apple, where he has been responsible for Apple’s iCal Server and the open source Darwin Calendar Server. Cyrus has been extremely active in CalConnect since before he went to Apple, and has continued his activities as author and editor of many standards and specifications. He has served as Chair of TC CHAIRS for all but two years since 2006, and has served as Apple’s Steering Committee representative since Apple became a member of the Steering Committee.

Cyrus has been active and effective not just in authoring and progressing specification and standards, but broader areas involving CalConnect, including identifying new work areas, conducting workshops and sessions, and helping to progress our work. He is an exemplar of collegiality, willing to work with and help anyone, and never condescending, but treating all as colleagues.

Cyrus is one of the few people who seem somehow to actually manage not just to be in multiple places at once, but to work effectively in those places, and has been one of the primary drivers of CalConnect’s success, as well as of CalDAV, CardDAV, and the other standards he has been instrumental in authoring and progressing. Cyrus is one of the thought leaders of CalConnect, thinking about and speaking to what we can do better and how we can do it. If there are any close to indispensable people in the calendaring and scheduling world, Cyrus is certainly one of them, and he has remained a stalwart support of CalConnect from the beginning.

Thank you, Cyrus, for your long service and outstanding contributions to CalConnect and interoperable calendaring.

Is CalConnect Right for You? Are you Right for CalConnect?

Earlier this week, we welcomed Ribose as the newest CalConnect member, and our first member organization based in Asia. Including Ribose, five organizations have joined CalConnect since we announced our new membership fees and categories in April of this year.

In our conversations with Ribose’s leadership, we learned that Ribose had been aware of CalConnect for some time, but had previously assumed that CalConnect was just for the “really big players”.

CalConnect does need the “really big players”, however one might reasonably define them, for a number of reasons, but CalConnect cannot succeed, cannot meet its mission, with only the “really big players”, the “really small players”, or only the “really anything-else players”.

As we note on our “Why Join” page,

We are a partnership between vendors of calendaring & scheduling systems and tools, and users of those tools. 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 success, and ultimately the success of our vision of interoperable calendaring & scheduling depend on broad, engaged, diverse, and informed participation by those organizations developing calendaring and scheduling products, and those organizations which are using calendaring and scheduling products.

“Why Join” is, of course, a marketing piece to entice you to join or learn more about CalConnect, but the quoted paragraphs are a genuine representation of what CalConnect believes and stands for. We expressed a similar sentiment in the aforementioned “new membership fees/categories posting” on the CalConnect blog,

Here is what we hope to accomplish with our new membership and interoperability event fees – increase diversity, geographic distribution, age, gender, and company size of our membership. This is essential to CalConnect and its mission.

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. Although there is some overlap, each of these membership categories has a different perspective, has different requirements and needs, and each can make a different contribution as a CalConnect member.

CalConnect is as close to a true meritocracy as any organization I have ever been involved with. Anyone, irrespective of membership category or company affiliation, can become a CalConnect thought leader, technical leader, or organizational leader, based on merit – your participation, your contributions, and your collegiality.

CalConnect is anchored in these precepts:

  1. CalConnect is a membership driven organization – multidimensional diversity, and broad, engaged participation are the keys to sustainability and maximum impact.
  2. CalConnect needs to influence the world, and CalConnect needs to be influenced by the world, not just its membership.
  3. The future of calendaring and the future of CalConnect are intertwined – CalConnect helps shape the future of calendaring, and the future of calendaring will surely shape CalConnect.

So, Is CalConnect Right for You? Are you Right for CalConnect?

If you are trying to solve a problem, find a solution, build a product, help drive the standards, or simply get to know the people driving calendaring & scheduling today, CalConnect is right for you.

If you are a large software development organization, an emergent software vendor or startup, if you are end user organization, a college or university, a government organization or department for which scheduling/calendaring is critical to your workflow or product line, if you are a standards organization which needs calendaring /scheduling expertise, or if you are an individual interested in calendaring /scheduling products or standards, you are right for CalConnect.

Gary Schwartz
President

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.

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