Monday, May 09, 2011

Doodle:schedule a group activity

Doodle isn't yet another calendaring service. That's good, because it would take a crowbar to get my family off Google Calendar.

Doodle augments calendaring systems. It helps with negotiating a common meeting time between multiple participants on diverse platforms. Our local HIMSS chapter has used it for a year or more and it's been working well.

Doodle solves a problem I have, and it has a track record. So it's worth my time to test Doodle against Gordon's Laws for software and service use.

First I'll start with the fundamentals. Doodle is a Swiss company (Zurich) and revenue is a mixture of ads (yech) and premium services:

  • solo - mobile support (web site), calendar connect (but this comes with free service too), ad free: $30/year
  • business: solo + branding and encryption + 20 users: $350/year
  • enterprise: negotiable
That's encouraging -- they have a plausible way to make money that doesn't require them selling me out. On the other hand, I don't see a lot of value to the 'solo' account since Calendar Connect comes with a free account.

Next I'll look at account setup and revocation. It's not obvious, but if you look at the login at the top of Doodle pages the Doodle icon is a drop down. Click it and you'll see how to link Doodle to your (two-factor protected) Google account using OpenID. That, of course, can be revoked from Google. I'm willing to give them my Gmail address -- it's hardly secret and already gets vast amounts of (largely filtered out) spam.

Next I tried the Google Calendar integration. I don't like that they want my Google Contacts. So that's a negative; I decided not to provide that access for now. I may give them access to one of my Google Apps accounts that has no significant Contacts exposure.

Overall Doodle gets a B+. No data lock, easy exit, plausible business model, good credentials handling. They miss the A because they insist on access to my Google Contacts rather than Calendar alone.

I'll give them a try.

PS. Extra points for having a $3 iPhone app and an Android app. Non-free is a very good sign for an iPhone app. Almost takes them to A-.

Update: As per comments, Doodle allows one to drop access to Contacts after an initial privileges grant. So they do get an A- which is pretty good. Best would be if Content access was always optional.

In practice Calendar access isn't very useful for me -- very few events of mine show up on my personal gmail calendar. They show up on calendars I subscribe to, such as my corporate calendar, the family calendar, my wife and kids calendars, etc. (Dog does not have her own calendar yet.)

So to know my true free/busy time Doodle would need access to an API that doesn't exist yet. On the other hand, subscribing to the Doodle calendar feed lets me visualize Doodle controlled appointments within my Google Calendar. That's useful now.

Contacts access would be useful within Doodle, but as noted above I'm cautious about allowing that.

1 comment:

Reto Laemmler said...

Hi Gordon,

Great post, thanks! I'm the responsible Product Manager here at

Yes, we force you to connect Google Calendar and Contacts in one go, but as soon as they are connected, you can disconnect Contacts or Calendar individually again.

So, does that convince you to give an A? :-)

Best regards,