The folks at Google have cornered the market on web search and are leaders in email and online maps, but as many of already know, they have also taken the lead in many other corners of the Internet including web metrics, news feeds, document sharing and calendars. Google Calendar offers a lot of useful components to leverage for websites including web widgets, a large variety of feeds, sharing and now appointment slots. With all these options the tool promises to cover most all your calendaring needs. Let’s break it down.
Google Calendar has all of the features that you’d expect in a personal calendar. It also functions well a departmental or topical calendar. Each Google account can support multiple calendars for organizing groups of events, these calendars can be shared in email or on the web individually or merged. You can add single or repeating events with descriptions (basic HTML is supported in descriptions) and detailed location information (yes, it integrates with Google Maps), calendar and event privacy settings allow you to restrict what information can be viewed publicly. You can also share management of calendars or individual events with other Google account holders or simply invite them to attend an event.
Where Google Calendar shines is the advanced syndication capabilities. For starters, each calendar has a unique URL that you can share with anyone. Google also allows you customize your calendar’s presentation and provides you with a snippet of HTML code which you can embed in any web page. Google calendars can also be shared in iCal, RSS and XML formats, this permits the opportunity to integrate data stored in Google Calendar with other applications. We’re currently working on using Google Calendar’s iCal feeds for creating a mobile dining web site-let. And for those adept in web programming, highly customized applications can be constructed using the Google’s Calendar API.
This summer Google added a cool new feature to calendar called appointment slots. Using appointment slots a Google calendar user can block out tine periods in which other Google account holders can schedule (and subsequently cancel) appointments. Appointment slots still look a little rough around the edges, but are a promising feature to watch with lots of great potential applications.