February 19th, 2008Posted by: Theo Nicolakis
This is a bit off-topic with my previous posts, but I’ve run email and groupware systems for almost 14 years. I’ve interacted with a variety of servers and protocols.
Nothing has held more promise or given more headaches than the iCalendar (.ics) standard. In applications that natively support it (iCal, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.) it has been a great way to have an open standard that will exchange calendaring information. Add WebDAV or CalDAV to the mix and you have method for publishing and subscribing too.
That being said, we’ve always had problems using iCal invitations logically from within Lotus Notes. Lotus Notes began its .ics/iCalendar support in version 6. However the way that it handles it is apt to drive one crazy (Indeed, the lack of .ics support in Notes R5 and subsequent poor synchronization across applications was one of the main reasons why I ended up dumping Notes years ago).
One of our users had a problem with Notes today so that if anyone out there runs into the same issue, you can find this article and find an answer. The problem involves the method in which Lotus Notes handles iCal invitations. Specifically, you are unable to click on the invitation to add it to your calendar. Rather, you need to do the following steps:
- 1) You need to double-click on the .ics file that you receive via email
- 2) You are prompted with an “attachment” dialogue.
- 3) You need to choose OPEN from the list of available options.
- 4) You are then prompted with a dialogue box titled, “Scheduling Notes in iCalendar file”. Select IMPORT ALL.
- 5) It appears as though NOTHING happens. However, you then need to return to your mailbox and hit either F9 or go to VIEW–>REFRESH and then you will see a new email that is now a calendar invitation.All those steps are frustrating, non-intuitive, and unnecessary to users.
It’s no wonder that Lotus Notes has taken such a hit in its subscriber base and fallen from it’s #1 spot among the groupware and email systems and conceded it to Microsoft Exchange. While Notes is clearly a superior product in terms of its security (almost to a usability flaw), it does point to the fact that users want usable products. Interoperability in today’s world is key. I only hope that companies will take note and continue to produce products that make interoperability easier and easier. Otherwise, it’s the end users who suffer through frustration and loss of productivity.
There’s a decent post here on some of the dialogues you will see: