Meta-calendaring with Exchange?

Dear Blogosphere,

Like many schools, we are deeply invested in Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server. Yet, we struggle with these products’ limited calendaring abilities. We would really like a modern calendaring system that allows users to turn layers on and off for different public resources. Rather than having dozens of individual, mutually exclusive calendars, my users want dozens of layers in a single multi-calendar. Additionally, portability would be key — the ability for a single user to include an item from a public calendar in one’s personal calendar without unnecessary duplication. I have heard of Zimbra but not given it a close look. We must continue to use Outlook, and frankly, we would like to continue to use Exchange if we can, to minimize the amount of change in our system.

Do you know any open-source tools that can layer on top of Exchange to provide these meta-calendaring services?


  1. Stephen Rahn says:

    Hi Richard,
    I hope that all is well in the great northwest. I was wondering if you had considered something as radical as the Google calendar. The university I work for has already switched all student E-Mail and Calendar to Google, and they are looking into doing the same for faculty and staff. I don’t know how well it plays with Outlook, but it might be worth a look. Our department has already switched our lab calendars to Google, and it couldn’t have been easier. We are a small department, but it works for us. Take a look.

  2. Alex Ragone says:

    Hi Richard,

    We’re looking into a messaging server change this year. We are a FirstClass school, and have been disappointed consistently with their support and upgrades.

    I yearn for the type of system you are describing. My thought is a number of meta calendars running on an iCal server and with the ability for our clients to subscribe to those calendars. We’re a Whipplehill client and I know of at least one other school who has been able to use their API to create iCal feeds from their calenders. Then, you just need a client to subscribe. We’re looking at Outlook, Groupwise, FirstClass and some suggested… Not sure any of these do what you want, but iCal seems to be the ticket (at least in my mind). Hope this helps.

    – Alex

  3. rkassissieh says:

    I love iCal, but I don’t know of a way to integrate iCal with Exchange (yet). Has anyone played with this and Outlook 2007?

    A number of Bay Area folks were oozing over the iCal server built into OS X Server. You can even get most of what you want by giving your calendar editors Sunbird with appropriate permissions. This would be enough if you got everyone in the school on Sunbird or iCal, but we are too closely wedded to Exchange to pull this off.

  4. rkassissieh says:

    Looks like Outlook 2007 can subscribe to iCal calendars but not publish to them — not good.

    "Viewing and sharing: Outlook 12 fully supports the Internet calendar format ("iCal"), which allows Outlook users to import and subscribe to a wide-range of calendars available on the Internet, including sports calendars, community calendars, promotional calendars, and holiday calendars. Finally, I can import the schedule for the entire "Veronica Mars" and "Entourage" television seasons with a few simple clicks! Outlook 12 also gives users the ability to publish calendars on Microsoft Office Online for the public or a designated set of people. In addition, Outlook 12 can send calendars by e-mail in HTML and iCal format, it allows read and write capability for Microsoft Sharepoint calendars, and it improves its already full-featured sharing capabilities when used with Microsoft Exchange Server."