Friday, March 14, 2008

Google Apps Calendar fix? Integrating identities.

Only last week I'd hit another snag in our family calendaring project:
Gordon's Tech: Calendar sharing bugs and limitations in Google Apps vs Google Standard

.... 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....
Today the problems have resolved, and my Google Apps Calendar now shows the both a standard and a Public calendar address.

I hope Google's fixed the bug(s), but I suspect the unexpected resolution is due to slow propagation and completion of certain changes to Calendar settings. For now, anyway, I seem to have a fix.

Now that I'm moving forward again, I'll recap. This might be useful to someone.

I've described our family calendaring project previously. Using Google Apps to create our eNom administered family domain was easy. That gave each of us email and calendars.

Emily's email has lived on the Google Apps account for months, with IMAP sync from two our Macs and access via Google's Java client for the Blackberry. Her Google Apps Calendar also synchronizes with her Blackberry using an other Google Java app.

That left me as a problem. I'm waiting for the iPhone to meet my minimal demands, so I'm on my second Palm Tungsten E2. That devices syncs with Outlook at home (work is more complex, I'll omit it). Now that Outlook can sync with a Google Apps Calendar my home Outlook is synchronizing with my Google Apps Calendar every hour or so.

Only one problem remained.

I have two primary (and several secondary) Google/Google App identities. One is in the family domain, the other is much older and has a plain address. The older one is bound to years of email, Google search results, blogger*, etc. Google now lets me keep a single Google App identity and a single Gmail identity running simultaneously so I can work with both, but it's a pain to have two calendars. Two emails are fine, but two calendars is no good.

Now that's fixed. Here's what I did:
  1. Google Apps: In Domain Management set the limit on extra-domain sharing with authenticated users to maximally permissive.
  2. In my Google Apps Calendar added my Gmail account with maximal control (this didn't used to work).
  3. Set my Google Apps email to forward to my Gmail account -- so I get email reminders.
  4. In my Gmail account cleaned out my Gmail Calendar and renamed it "Don't Use!"
Now I can sync my Google Apps Calendar to my Palm via Outlook, I can quickly add items to that Calendar from my regular Gmail account, and my wife can see my personal calendar and add items to it.

The only minor glitch is that my Gmail defaults to using my legacy Gmail Calendar for event creation, but it's not hard to switch target calendars in the drop down box. The name for my old calendar, "Don't Use", reminds me to switch.

So far, not too bad.

* Google Apps accounts can't join a Blogger blog btw.

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