Saturday, March 08, 2008

Calendar sharing bugs and limitations in Google Apps vs Google Standard

In honor of Google's Outlook synchronization I've been synchronizing my personal Outlook/Palm calendar to my calendar on our family site. (Corporate Outlook sync to Google Calendar is, regrettably, an unfair bending of corporate rules.)

So far, not too bad. I've done multiple personal Outlook/gCal syncs and one Palm/Outlook sync without duplicate events. So far.

Unfortunately, I have multiple Google identities. So I need to be able share a calendar between my primary (older) Gmail identity, which binds all my personal email and my primary blogs, and my family domain identity.

That's where I'm running into design limitations and bugs with Google Calendar and Google Apps Calendars. At the moment they include:

  • A Google Calendar has both a "Private Address" and a "Calendar Address". The Private Address enables sharing with a single individual. A Google Apps Calendar has a "Google App Domain Address" and a "Calendar Address". It's likely that Google re-purposed the "Private Address" function to enable "Domain sharing", but that means you can't privately share a Google Apps Calendar outside of a Google App domain.
  • There's an bug in Google Apps Calendar. Under certain operations it gets stuck in a mode where it will only share busy/free information -- even if you enable public sharing at both the domain and calendar level.

So I can't meet my primary goal -- of keeping my sync'd Family Domain Calendar private while enabling read-write access to it from my personal Gmail account (outside the family domain).

Even the private address functionality of the standard Gmail Calendar has a pretty limited set of functionality:

Note: the private address was designed for your use only, so be sure not to share this address with others. If you want to let others view your calendar, we recommend that you share your calendar's public address (or "Calendar Address") with them. If you accidentally share your calendar's private address, click on the "Reset Private URLs" link to regenerate your calendar's private address.

Google does have certain cultural limitations -- there's such an institutional bias to openness that they can't seem to get their heads around access controls.

I may experiment with flipping things around. Maybe I can sync my personal Outlook account to my Google Standard Calendar, and then share that Calendar within the family domain.

3/15/2008: I tried again today and from my Google Apps account I can now share the calendar with full privileges to my Gmail identity. From my Gmail identity I can now edit the calendar. Is someone from Google reading this blog?! (I presume the fix is coincidental, but ...)

4/24/2009: I've just run into the same od bug again. My Google Apps account was set to allow sharing only in the domain. I created a calendar in my owner/admin account. I then changed sharing to allow non-domain shares. I couldn't then make the calendar accessible. I tried various tricks as described in comments such as trying to make the calendar universally editable, etc. After a half hour or so of playing around I found I could create another calendar in the same account and that one was shareable. I then returned to the primary calendar and ... that one was shareable too.

I don't know if anything I did made a difference. Maybe it just takes an hour or so for sharing changes to really take effect. Clearly Google hasn't fixed this problem in the past year.


ahc11 said...

i have been trying to do this as well... only problem is that all appointments in my domain calendar show up as "BUSY" in my gmail calendar. Do you know how to make it so that the gmail calendar can see and manage full details?


ahc11 said...

also, i found an error on your homepage. the link to your tech site has an extra t in the http://


The Wandering Turk said...

Interesting - I'm also still running into the same issue as ahc11 - events in my Google Apps calendar only show up as busy in my personal Gmail calendar (the dropdown in my Calendar on Google Apps does not give me options beyond sharing free/busy information). Seems like a Google bug but it's surprising that you can now (or as of March) do this without issues.

Anonymous said...

I am having exactly the same problem and it's now July. As Administrator I have approved full access but can only get free/busy info (useless) to outside accounts.

Very frustrating!!!

Ariel Di Stefano said...

Another way to use your google data is to access it trough MS Outlook.

We just launched KiGoo, a free tool that allows Google users to fully manage (create, read, update and delete) their Calendar and Contacts from MS Outlook.

Also KiGoo manage the Free Busy information of your Gmail contacts for appointments if they shared their FB status.

Currently we support Windows XP and office 2007.

You could download it from

Unknown said...

I just fixed this problem on my Google Apps calendar. Here's what I did:

1. Make the problem calendar fully public.

2. Change the settings for the outside-the-domain address that wouldn't change before.

3. Make the calendar private again.

Voila. I hope this works for others too.

Michael Bischoff said...

I'm having the same problem, so I was excited about April's suggested fix. Sadly, it didn't do the trick for me. Any other tips?

Golden State Girl said...

I am also having this exact same problem. I tried to make the calendar public and then private again with no results. Any help would be great. Not sure what to do.

Dobes said...

What worked for me was to create the calendar using a gmail account and giving full control to the google apps account. It's a bit weird that you can go the other way, but ... oh well!

SteveJ said...

Google support apparently thinks it ain't bug:

SteveJ said...

I solved the problem by creating a user account for the domain (in addition to the administrative owner account for the domain). Then under Manage this domain, click Calendar, then click the radio buttons to share all information. Then logout, login as the user, and create the calendar; you can now select See all event details under the Calendar settings (Sharing). It seems like a bug that it can't be done for the owner account.

James Legg said...

I have managed to share my apps calender with gmail accounts by adjusting sharing settings permissible across the entire apps domain.

After this I had to unsubscribe and re-subscribe the calendar in one gmail account, another gmail account took a couple of attempts to get working but un-subscribing and re-subscribing after 5 minutes fixed that one as well.

James Legg said...

I managed this by using these settings:

to enable sharing across the entire apps domain - I also had to unsubscribe and re-subscribe a couple of times in one google account. (another one worked straight away)
Might be worth changing the setting and going and doing something else for 10 minutes then trying again to see if it just takes a little time to take effect across the googleplexnet.

Shahryar said...

I did what Dobes did for my calendar on

Unknown said...

i went through the admin steps with no apparent luck, then read the comments here about patience. i had some lunch, refreshed the page, and the private address appeared.

Rob Wall said...

I have just done the same as Steve J. I really want ONE place for both my Calendars. With this work around I just have to do all my calendar work from the Google Std view (home account). The Google apps view is useless as I can't change one of them.

JGF said...


Most of the time I'm able to edit all the calendars for which I have read/write privileges when logged in to either my Google Apps or personal account.

Occasionally, on my iPhone, I'm unable to edit a calendar entry through the CalDAV sync. That's an erratic bug that comes and goes and may be related to certificate handling.

I can't debug your setup, but I can tell you it has worked for me.