Sunday, December 27, 2009

State of the Swamp, 2010

There's still so much swamp to be drained.

Latest case in point: I'm preparing to attend my first Consumer Electronics Show in five years. For years, CES and similar trade shows have provided a Web-based event planner to add show activities to a personalized calendar. After selecting their events, attendees have a choice to export this calendar, purportedly to iCal format.

This I did today. But like so many other supposed iCal files, this one can't be properly imported into standard iCal-compliant calendars such as Google Calendar or Mozilla.

At least at the beginning of 2010, we have a new diagnostic tool, the iCalendar Validator. Running my exported CES file through the Validator reveals that the file scored 75 out of 100 points, accompanied by this warning: "This calendar has major problems; many applications will reject this calendar."

I would guess that one application will accept the calendar just fine: Microsoft Outlook. But looking at the text of the CES calendar, the beginning states "BEGIN:VCALENDAR BEGIN:VCALENDAR VERSION:2.0."

vCal is an older, less forgiving version of the iCal standard. It's been the topic of a long comment thread here. It's sad that organizations of the stature and importance of the Consumer Electronics Association (producers of CES) are still using vCal, and worse that it gets billed as iCal when only Outlook iCal is likely to be speaking that dialect.

I wonder if it's possible to use simple search-and-replace commands in Notepad to make the CES calendar work in Google Calendar. I'm going to try. But all the time, I will be wondering, after this year of cloud computing, how come the top U.S. technology show doesn't support the top cloud calendar format?

Update: If one views the source code of the CES Web site, it's obvious that it is created using the /Microsoft format. The incompatibility culprit here is Microsoft!

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