[chandler-users] Intelligent Event Scheduling
jeffrey at osafoundation.org
Wed Mar 21 08:47:20 PST 2007
> Apologies in advance if this is answered elsewhere; it's hard to know
> where to start looking...
This may be an important enough question that we ought to talk about it
in our FAQ. I don't think we do now, and even if we did, we're still at
a stage where we're actively delighted to get engagement from the wider
Perhaps there will come a time where we're so wildly successful that
many of us will experience list-fatigue, but even then, I hope we can
build a community with a culture of gracious engagement with the community.
So, no apologies needed!
> I'm interested in knowing what Chandler might offer in the way of
> intelligent event scheduling.
There are philosophical answers to this question, and direct feature
responses. Philosophy first.
Different organizations, and even different people within organizations,
have wildly different experiences of Exchange-style meeting scheduling
software. I know many people who love the Exchange scheduling
experience. I've also had many conversations with people that hate the
rigidity of existing scheduling processes.
Chandler is very explicitly targeting small workgroups, which we think
are poorly served by existing software. Right now, our features are
clustered around groups with strong trust relationships. Thus, a lot of
our workflows are based on an assumption that transparency and back and
forth are useful and welcome.
So, on to features. Our design for scheduling in our yet to be shipped
"Preview release" works by just letting users overlay different peoples
full calendars. We implemented rudimentary free/busy UI using the
emerging CalDAV standard's freebusy support, which would allow users to
publish just their availability without exposing more details about events.
We've actually pulled freebusy support out for Preview because we have
limited time for feature polish and we realized for our target small
workgroups, freebusy didn't add a lot of value compared to sharing full
> For some time (since first trying to use such tools in the 80's), my #1
> wish for group calendars was for more granularity than 'busy' and
> 'free.' I'm sick of spending hours trying to set up a meeting by
> consulting and juggling multiple calendars, only to discover that I've
> been trying to work around obstacles that really aren't obstacles at all
> (e.g., events that people had blocked off but which they really didn't
> need/want to attend).
The two challenges I see of relying on people to provide more detail
about where they sit on the spectrum between completely unavailable and
available are that:
A) sometimes people get overwhelmed with choices and don't want (or know
how to) add more semantic detail, and
B) There's multi-dimensional social nuance to scheduling. Some
organizations can live with forcing scheduling conversation into
pre-defined buckets, others will find this stifling.
That's not to say we shouldn't offer more semantic options, just that
choosing what default options should exist isn't an open-and-shut issue.
> * I want to be reminded that this event is going on, but I have no
> commitment to attend.
We have an FYI status for events like this, they render on the calendar
differently from Confirmed events.
> * I might attend this event if there's nothing better to do
> * I'm tentatively planning to attend this event, but if necessary I'm
> willing to do something else.
> * I need to attend this event, but if something of priority x comes
> along, I can switch my schedule
Like most calendar software, we've got a Tentative status for events,
rendered slightly different from confirmed events. But I'll confess
I've never seen anyone use this status, so while I like the concept I
think Tentative has so many attendant social factors and it encompasses
such a broad swath of the availability spectrum that it's not actually
Our approach to complex state like this is to encourage people to have
conversations about events. Unfortunately I think the UI feature that
would make such conversations glue together tightly aren't going to be
implemented for Preview (you might occasionally see reference to
"clusters" on our lists and on the wiki, we're not doing clusters for
Preview). But we're expecting users will do a combination of emailing
chatty threads about events, and updating the notes field in place.
> There are of course other dimensions, such as: if you de-schedule me
> from one event for a higher-priority event, does my absence from the
> first event necessitate it being rescheduled?
> Is anything of this sort on the drawing board, or pie-in-the-sky?
I'd say automated processes for doing sophisticated re-scheduling like
this are outside the realm of things OSAF staff are likely to work on
any time soon. But this is exactly the sort of feature we'd like to see
built on top of Chandler, most of the infrastructure required to
implement something like this is already in place.
That's not intended as a brush off, we'd really like to work with the
wider community to help other people innovate on top of Chandler. We
know we can't do everything ourselves.
Thanks for you interest!
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