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Google Calendar adds CalDAV support

by Rob Friesel

Already “link-dumped” on July 28th but1…  Here are the detailed notes: it would seem that as of today (July 28th) Google has added CalDAV support to their online calendar2!  The short version of what this means?  Now you can get “native” reciprocal syncing between your Mac’s iCal and your gCal3.  “Just follow these easy steps!

It seems like one of those “haven’t you been waiting for this?” type moments.  The delicious UI of iCal, finally playing nice with that pervasive gCal used by so many users at home and abroad…  The “holy grail” of calendar sharing: two-way (even three-way! four-way!) sharing of a single calendar across multiple computers and applications.

But…  Even in the press release on the Google Operating System blog and even in gCal’s CalDAV setup instructions, there are some “pre-cited” bugs and known issues.  Some of these really don’t seem like a big deal:

Unable to create iCal To Dos for Google Calendar

Really?  Could it be because Google Calendar does not itself have built-in To Do management?

Meanwhile, others are annoying and borderline frustrating.  As Rick Vugteveen points out:

The largest issue that I had is that I needed to create a new CalDav server account for every calendar in Google Calendar. Not only did this make further setup cumbersome, it degraded the iCal UI as a 1-1 relationship between each folder (server) and calendar is created. Normal re-ordering and organization of calendars does not work with this setup so be careful with the order you enter your calendars. This multiple server setup also removed the ability to move events between different calendars within iCal.

There’s also this one that comes straight from the Calendar Help Center:

For a small percentage of Google Calendars, a certain iCal bug will prevent your events from appearing inside the iCal application. We’ve notified Apple of the issue, and hope that they’ll fix it soon.

Elaboration?  Anyone have an idea what “a small percentage” or “a certain iCal bug” mean?  My guess is that it has something to do with repeating events.  In particular, I’m assuming it’s a repeating event whose start date is waaaaaaaaay4 in the past.  More on that below…

First impressions.  My first impressions are largely positive.  Setting up the first calendar proved to be a snap.  Adding my “secondary” calendars took a little bit of maneuvering; the instructions were clear but part of me had a hard time believing that that was the case — it seemed too cumbersome.  On top of that, once I did get the secondary calendars added, I saw exactly what Mr. Vugteveen was talking about: the calendars are basically sequestered from each other.  You wind up needing to pay close attention to which calendar is active.  A mistake becomes create-oops-delete-switch-re-create instead of create-oops-move.

The second thing that I noticed was that a bunch of my repeating events did not appear at all.  At first I assumed this was because they had “violator” events — every Thursday at 10:30am except these two times…  But then if that were the case why would other repeating events with violators be OK?  On second glance, it looked like the repeating events with problems were long-standing events that had start dates (as I said above) quite far in the past.

The other teeth-grinding annoyance?  These CalDAV-managed calendars do not appear as valid options in iSync.  In other words, I cannot add an event to the calendar on my phone and then have it sync “into” one of these calendars which then pushes from iCal to gCal.  I can select a “local” calendar, sync “down” to that (from the phone), and then re-create the calendar event in iCal but I can’t have iCal automatically suck in the event.  Bummer.  Of course, long-time readers are probably ready to point out that I can just SMS those events from my phone straight to gCal5 without this whole iCal/iSync intermediary…  But let’s be honest.  I’ve only used that like — what? — two or three times since I started using gCal in the first place.

The “to do” list?  To make this solid seems like it will take some work from engineers on both sides.  The “gCal calendars look like distinct servers” issue has got to get fixed, for one.  That sounds like it’s on Google’s end.  Getting iSync to recognize and fully utilize these CalDAV managed calendars needs fixing, too.  That sounds like it’s on Apple’s end.  Those are the big ones for me.  The “old repeating events don’t show up” bug?  That’s easy enough to work-around but I’ll take Google’s side and hope Apple fixes “a certain iCal bug” in a jiffy.

  1. Saw this first over on LifeHacker. []
  2. From here forward referred to as “gCal”. []
  3. TUAW seems to have tagged it “together at last” and I do believe I agree. []
  4. Where “waaaaaaaaay” is >2 years? []
  5. Which was the whole point of getting mired in gCal in the first place… []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night; weekend homebrewer. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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