What is seemingly the bane of existence for most non-Microsoft users is the constant problem of “How can we share calendars?” Exchange does this extremely well, and there are many a Linux zealot, when confronted with the “Okay, we’ll try Linux. How do we share calendars?” has had to hide in shame.
For me, the problem has been “how do I sync my Treo 650 so I can see my family and friends’ calendars, without having to manually do some rigamarole involving synchronizing through some Windows based custom tool?
My savior may have arrived in the form of a tool called GooSync.
The concept is simple. The world in general has failed to come up with a standard calendaring system that actually makes sense, and allows multiple people to share, view, and update each others’ calendars. iCalendar, while very good for publishing calendars and allowing people to subscribe to them for viewing, does a poor job of allowing others to update someone else’s calendar.
Along comes Google Calendar. Ahh, a good, interactive, free calendaring service that allows multiple users to share, update, and publish calendars interactively. Not only that, Google Calendar has a published API specification that allows users to write programs that interact with it.
I had been using CompanionLink to hotsync my Google Calendar down to my Treo, but after months of complaints to their tech support and sales department, explaining that without multiple calendar support, their tool had only limited functionality, and after they even said to me “If you can figure out a way to keep the calendars synchronized without duplicating entries, feel free to tell us how” (and I did), and still not getting an update, it was time to look elsewhere.
GooSync has a number of very strong advantages over CompanionLink and, frankly, any other tool I’ve seen so far.
- The base version is free. It allows you to sync one personal calendar to and from the Treo to a single Google Calendar
- For a small fee (about $20 a year), it supports multiple calendars, with read and write access.
- It keeps all the calendar entries separate on the Treo, either via a text tag in the entry, or using categories.
- It syncs wirelessly. That means it’ll use the Treo data network (whichever one you have) to talk to their servers to get updates and to post changes. This means you do NOT have to cradle-hotsync your Treo and run some Windows app to synchronize your calendars
That last item bears closer scrutiny. Once the GooSync client is installed on your phone, all subscriptions and maintenance to your calendar list is done via Goosync’s website. Want to add a new calendar to your phone? Go to the website, say “show me all my Google calendars” (and it does), and click the checkbox next to the one you want to show up on your Treo. On the phone, run the Synchronize function in the GooSync client, and 30 seconds later, your Treo is updated with all the new entries.
I’ve tried this with my own calendar, and shared calendars I have write access to, and it works perfectly. No duplicate records, nothing showing up in calendars that I didn’t have there before, it just plain works. I now have full control and view into all my Google Calendars from my phone.
With all the gloom and doom about the PalmOS platform (both from me, and also from very well known tech blogs like Engadget), this is a small ray of sunshine. Note that GooSync supports a ton of different devices, so even if you don’t have a ‘smartphone’ per se, you can probably sync your Google Calendar to your device.
Yay technology, and thank you Google for making it possible, and thank you GooSync!