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Critique of Google Calendar

I've been using Google Calendar for a while now and there are a couple of problems that I have noticed and a couple that friends have pointed out.

Event Parser

Generally, Google has yet again made a great product. The new event parser works really well. If you don't know, it basically allows you to type in events the way that you think about them (e.g. "

adding event to calendar

Public Calendars

Another thing that they got right is public calendars. There are currently thousands of public calendars that you can add into your Google calendar like a calendar of holidays. But you can also subscribe to iCalendar feeds (as I have demonstrated icalendar importing of Drupal events in the past). This is the kind of thing that will take a geeky technology (iCalendar) and hopefully make it easy enough for "my mom" to use. She can just use the "search" box for the term in an iCalendar feed and there she has it without knowing about iCalendar protocol at all.

Shared Calendars

In that same vein, you can have multiple calendars in your google calendar - e.g. work and personal - and share your calendar with different permission levels. So, the wife can see and edit my personal calendar but not my work calendar. You could allow coworkers to view (bot not edit) your work calendar and only let your coworker friend see your personal calendar as well. Pretty cool.

All the same, here's the stuff that I don't like about gmail - because this is the stuff they might fix and make it super duper.

The Past

Yeah, I had a calendar for yesterday, but I don't really care about it anymore. I still want it recorded in my calendar, but I don't want to be bothered by it, so, at least grey it out.

google calendar month view

The above bit shows how it currently shows. Where is today? There are two visual cues on the page that show today, but why are all of the days in the past given as much visual weight as the stuff in the future? Grey those suckers out!

google calendar month view - past greyed out

View Windows

You can view the calendar as "Day", "Week", "Month", "Agenda", or a custom view such as "next 4 days" or something like that. This is very nice, but when you hit the "previous" and "next" buttons move your view into the past or future, it moves a whole chunk at a time instead of by a smaller increment. So, you are in the 4 day view on a Tuesday which means you Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. You are dreaming about the weekend and want to scroll forward so that Tuesday and Wednesday drop off the calendar but Saturday and Sunday are added. You can't do that. It's kind of amazing given the time-chooser-slider they implemented in flash for Google finance and the map centering control in Google Maps. In both cases you can select your size of the viewport (e.g. zoom level) and you can select your boundaries. Imagine if you couldn't control exactly where the edges of your map are. I mean, that would be just as bad as the old Mapquest for crying out loud.

Search or Add Event

The last annoyance I've got is that they put a search bar on top. I know search is what Google is well known for, but when I interact with my calendar searching is one of the last things I do. This is a point that 30boxes got right. The prime real estate should be reserved for a "quick add" box. I shouldn't have to click a button to do a quick add - it should just be there always. And should have the focus (or at least be keyboard hotkey accessible like gmail is).

What Are You Feeding Me?

This is another one of those geeky things, but Google Calendar offers an XML feed of some sort. However, I can't figure out what it is or how it works. Me. Can't figure it out. I'm more technically savvy than the average person and my feed reader doesn't like the thing, Firefox live bookmark doesn't like it, so what CAN I do with it? It would be nice if it were an iCalendar feed, or RSS feed, or both, but it doesn't seem to be either. Sad :(


That's it - my critique of Google Calendar. Overall it's a great tool that works really well and is really intuitive. It could be better, but I assume that's "in the works". What is your pet peeve about Google Calendar? And if you aren't using it, why the heck not?

People Involved: 


No task list

I've been trying out Google Calendar for the past few days, but ... there's no task list. At this point, yes, it's a lot more clicks, but even Yahoo has a task list.


I too was disappointed with

I too was disappointed with this. I've been using the Google Desktopv4 Gadgets for a little while and they include a "todo" list, but that todo list isn't propogated to other computers where I have setup the desktop gadgets and it isn't imported to my calendar. There is a todo list in the Google Personalized Home. However, that doesn't integrate with the todo desktop gadget. Bummer.

task list sharing

Ok, I just figure out that if I go to "configure gadgets" in the desktop gadgets and then say "Save Settings" for my to do list and Weather gadget then it will work across desktops. It still doesn't sync back with my personalized google home page (which has a separate todo widget). Oh well.

Google Calendar Public Updates


You seem to know a lot about Google calendar and I wanted to ask a question.
I would like to create a public calendar where people will be able to post events for themselves.
Right now it seems only I can make updates but I need to allow others without gmail account to
do so as well. How would I do it with Google calendar and if it's not possible are there other
software that allow to do that. thank you.

sharing edits of a public calendar

Hi Gene,

The bottom line is that there has to be something that google can check to determine whether or not the user has the permission to add events or edit events on your calendar. So, they use google account in order to determine those permissions.

Google has the ability to consume "ical" feeds from other sites, so you could create another site where anonymous users can add or edit calendar events and then submit the ical feed from that other site to Google. While that may sound tough, it's actually quite simple if you use the best php cms and a few of its contributed modules. I created a screencast that shows the process of adding a publically available ical to google calendar.

How does that sound?

thank you.

Thank you for letting me know.
I will have to look into it.
I wish google had an easy way for me to approve certain emails even if they don't
have google account to add details.
I wanted to have a calendar where multiple people would have been allowed to add events.
Apparently it's more complicated than just making the calendar public.

I will look into ical. Thank you for the info. I have to research to see how this can be done.

Quick question. Can I use ical to do what I need to do.
Create calendar on my page and allow other users who don't have google account
to add events?

ical is just a format

ical is just a format for presenting calendar data. The act of controlling the creation of data and what is added to that depends on whatever piece of software is creating your ical calendar. My suggestion to use Drupal to do that is because you could then create a "wiki" style calendar where anonymous people can edit. Or...a lot of other things. When you control the system (like with Drupal) you control the rules about accounts and editing.