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Net calendaring standard coming

The Internet Engineering Task Force says a standard to make scheduling and calendaring software communicate over the Net is on track for delivery in October.

    The Internet Engineering Task Force says a standard to make scheduling and calendaring software from multiple vendors communicate over the Net is on track for delivery in October.

    The Internet Calendaring and Scheduling (CALSCH) working group hopes to give Internet users a way to make the many calendar and scheduling systems now available on the market collaborate with each other no matter what server, application program, or operating system is at either end of the connection.

    Current group scheduling and PIM (personal information management) products are being produced by most office software manufacturers, but the ability for users to share information across the Web is "abysmal," said the working group's cochairman Anik Ganguly.

    "There is no interoperability between companies, or customers using these products," said Ganguly, who is also president of group scheduling software manufacturer On Time.

    This is in sharp contrast to email, he said, where users can communicate freely and globally regardless of what server or operating system is being used.

    The group plans to submit a draft protocol for interoperability and calendaring to the IETF in October. If ratified, the standard will most likely be completed by the end of 1997, according to Frank Dawson, a consulting engineer for Lotus' calendaring and scheduling division, who is a member of the group.

    But the work doesn't stop there. The group will also focus its attention on a calendar access protocol due out in 1998, according to the working group's schedule. Products that are able to interoperate will likely begin to appear later that year, soon after the standards are accepted.

    Along with Lotus and On Time,Microsoft and Netscape Communications are also participating in the working group. In all, there over 50 organizations represented in the 75 member body.

    Although a lot of work has been put into the process, Dawson said the standards won't be the end-all solution. "We just dipped into the bucket and pulled together the things we know will make things work now. We haven't reached to far into the future with this. We just did what we can do now."