Syncing your calendar

by Volker Weber

Keeping a calendar synced between a number of computers and handheld devices sucks. Big time.

I used to have my calendar in Notes but I became sick and tired of the deficiencies when syncing with my mobile devices. The sync software for Notes was only available on Windows as a separate application from Xtended Systems or for the Domino server from a number of vendors. I had one working, albeit very slowly, and could not get a supposedly better one working.

More than a year ago I migrated names and dates out of Domino into standard formats: iCal/vCal for the dates and vCard for the addresses. The master copy of both lives on Lucy and is synced into the Treo and the Tungsten. I also push the calendar to my server so I can look at it from the internet. I subscribe to that calendar from Snoopy, so I can view it there. This is however mostly oneway. I can add dates on Lucy or on the handhelds, but not on the web or on Snoopy. This is a far cry from Notes replication.

Apple has a solution: you can subscribe to .Mac and sync with iSync across multiple Macs and your handheld devices. However, that won't let you also sync the same data into a PC. And the service is bundled with a number of things which I don't need nor want.

iCal will also let me publish my calendar via WebDAV to a web server. In contrast to Mozilla Calendar you do not have read/write access to the calendar. You can either publish or subscribe. Which means, I can publish from Lucy and subscribe from Snoopy. Nothing gained.

When fiddling with this I found out that I have had a free WebDAV space for a while from GMX. It is included in the base free mail package. You need to set this as your base URL:

Base URL:
Password: yourpassword

It did not work for me when I first tried because iCal timed out after 30 seconds. I then tried with a smaller calendar and that worked. In my case I was able to publish a 36 kB but not a 120 kB calendar. Weird.

PS: You can mount that WebDAV space on GMX both from the Mac (use Command-K) or from Windows (MS calls this a web folder). Please note the trailing slash.


One of the unexpected little features of using a BlackBerry (along with a BB Enterprise Server) is that it synchs your calendar -- wirelessly -- with your Notes calendar. Really nice feature!

Amy Blumenfield, 2004-12-14

Sounds to me like you exchanged Notes/Domino, which sucked, for something that requires a lot of fiddling around with, and sucks just as much, albeit differently :-)

I can imagine so many way Notes and Domino could be better, but everytime I look for alternatives, I find that although it's got its problems, the others have infinitely more.

Stefan Tilkov, 2004-12-14

I'm looking for a solution on this topic since Apple released iCal. But, how did you manage the iCal/vCal-Export of your Notes-Calendar?
I tried an iCalendar-Agent on the Notes-Client. But it crashes on 6.5.1 for OS X.

Would be great to have an agent running scheduled to export the calendar several times a day onto a webserver. It is possible to subscribe any iCal/vCal-file, whether the server supports WebDAV or not.

Any suggestions?

Stefan Domanske, 2004-12-14

The export was a non-issue. The data already lived in the Tungsten, so it was synced into iCal when I switched from Notes.

You can easily upload your iCal file with FTP as often as you want. You may want to create a calendarupload file:

usernamepassword cd icalendar/calendars bin put yourcalendar.ics quit

and then add an entry to your crontab wich fires a script with ftp . This is only an example and needs lots of adjustments before it works for you.

I found iCal FTP quite nice. However, you need to trigger this manually.

Volker Weber, 2004-12-14

phpicalendar should be mentioned. It renders uploaded .ical files as neat websites (sample).

There are several tutorials out there on how to get this working, it also contains a hack so you can upload directly from Apple iCal without WebDAV.

It does NOT provide editing of calendars either.

Ole Saalmann, 2004-12-14

Ole, you are right. I should have mentioned this earlier. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2004-12-14

SyncML should also be mentioned. If more products would support this protocol there would be less problems keeping data in sync.

Detlev Schümann, 2004-12-14

So, after all, it seems to me, that you sync your Tungsten with Notes. than, you (i)Sync your Tungsten with iCal. That's the way to sync Notes with iCal?

Stefan Domanske, 2004-12-14

It did this exactly once. Syncing your handheld with more than one application or computer is not supported.

Volker Weber, 2004-12-14

Well, I know. I learned this lesson more than one time. :-)
I use OneBridge by to sync my Treo600 with Notes.

The Problem with this kind of »one-time-sync« is, that - depending on your appointments - the Data of your Calendar is quite dynamic. I'm searching for any kind of »Notes2iCal«-Sync, that does periodical conversions.

Have You tries LipSync yet?

Stefan Domanske, 2004-12-14

I was just going to cautiously advise you to try that. I have no experience with it whatsoever, but it claims to do what you want.

Volker Weber, 2004-12-14

Did not get it running. Kind of ACL-Problems. No idea, how to fix it, cause I'm not a Notes Expert. Here is the W32-iCal-Import/Export-Tool for Notes. No help for Snoopy and Lucy, of course ...

Stefan Domanske, 2004-12-14

oops - missing »h«...

Stefan Domanske, 2004-12-14

Wanted to mention LipSync, but this has already happened. So I just add, that they are ignorant b***es, as they never returned any mail nor explanation nor comment about the new implementation with Excursion having Windowesk behaviour: It´s always getting in the front without being asked, blocking serious work, but not if you want to quit - then one has to search it in the Dock to quit.

Bah. Nevertheless, very useful for syncing at least Notes (Mac) with iCal.

Now, if I found any way of syncing through iSync or whatever to my Samsung UMTS Z-100 or at least the (allegedly UMTS savvy) Motorola 920. A complete no-no. Argh. What is driving these people to think they are alone in a world of talking devices?

I can´t imagine.


Armin Roth, 2004-12-16

The LipSync folks seem to be just one guy who doesn't really have time to care about the product. I had it running once, but had to give up at the first problems.

Stefan Tilkov, 2004-12-20

Here's one more solution using Mozilla Sunbird. This should enable synching with Windows and Linux machines, too.

Oliver Regelmann, 2005-01-27

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe