More than almost any other business process, the scheduling and sharing of events ("Calendaring") is difficult to communicate. There are a large variety of behaviors and practices that users identify as "calendars," which in fact are . . . not. You watch five people affirm that they use an electronic calendar, and come find out that they each use wildly different tools that behave in very different ways.
We have decided to deploy a common calendering infrastructure, an online application called Google Calendar, that every user at CA has access to. We have also decided to directly publish certain calendar events to individual user's CA Google Calendar feeds, and to make available other applications that deliver event information in a format that is usable by the Google Calendar application.
Concept 1) These aren't Calendars.
As people, we intuitively identify a variety of publishing artifacts with the same descriptor: Calendars. The following are not Calendars, but actually different mechanisms for communicating or consuming EVENT DATA.
Website calendar embedded "widgets." At CA, historically the various event modules have been described as the "school calendar," and this was considered to be the authoratative source of event data. With the new application of events tools, the CA website will change from being a source of calendar data to being a subscriber of events data.
Mobile device apps. People describe the applications on their phones and tablets as being their calendar or digital planners. With our new tools, a user can leverage their mobile devices to accept or add to shared event data feeds.
Paper or wall planners. These tools, though once the only choice, are increasingly becoming obsolete, and can't be considered scalable calendaring solutions in a modern workplace.
Algorithmic Schedules. This is often the most surprising to users at a school. This is not an example of a calendar, but a tool that facilitates mental asthmatics. This requires the reader to make a calculation: "On Tuesdays during a certain time period, something will be happening, ERGO in four days we can meet." This SCHEDULE Algorithm lacks dates, or the specifics of any particular day.
Concept 2) Authoritative Source
A calendar event is an AGREEMENT between the people running an event and the people attending the event. For this to work, the Event Data needs to be correct. Having one correct instance of the Event is called AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE.
Concept 3) Sync
In order to be certain that the Event Data is true, it needs to automatically reflect changes. When we can say that an Event reflects up-to-the-minute changes in time and venue, we call it SYNCHRONIZED.
Concept 4) Notifications
Modern Event Data technology should allow for a user-customizable mechanism for reminders about changes or the impending start of Event. When the event tool contains reminders, we call those NOTIFICATIONS.
Concept 5) Feed
A collection or Group of Events can be configurable for ease of subscription. An internet address can be established where one can be notified of the authoritative source creation and synchronization of Events. The established address for a stream of such notifications is called the event FEED.
Concept 6) Calendar Feed Aggregators
Calendar apps on mobile devices, or web calendar tools like Google Calendar are actually Calendar Feed Aggregators. They combine and sort the calendar feeds of multiple sources, and are able to present the Events in a customized manner. These apps can also trigger notifications like email alerts. The purpose of these applications is to sort calendar feeds, not to display monthly calendars that fit nicely on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper.