A few years ago I thought the days of rambling off your entire schedule to someone else, over the phone or via email, to find a meeting time were long dead and gone. What I’ve found after a couple years in the work force is that most of the collaboration platforms today essentially only share free-busy information within your group. More often than not, in broad working units the folks on the other side have a different system. How do you really get anything done when there really is no seamless scheduling interaction between those platforms?
While we’d love the whole world to instantly convert to Zimbra, we realize that from time to time people in this situation for whatever reason (slow migration or stubborn departmental preference) have that one peer organization running different software. How to seamlessly find timeslots for meetings? And what to do for cases where you may not want to share your entire calendar with a huge list of people, a distribution list, or don’t want all your calendar events public?
Well, the CalConnect Roundtable we talked about earlier is finishing up, and as the week drew to a close we had another ace up our sleeve: Free-Busy Interop.
Both the Network and Open Source Editions of Zimbra now support two-way free/busy information with Microsoft’s Exchange Server, IBM’s Lotus Domino Messaging Server, Meeting Maker, and a slew of other third-parties that interact with our API. Plus, the framework is completely available to anyone who wants to build an extension for other platforms!
The query and propagation of free/busy data is done via REST and WebDAV interfaces. You can catch a in-depth walkthrough of how it’s done in this overview PDF.
Don’t need interop? You can also visit http:// zimbraserver.domain.com/home/username?fmt=freebusy to display an aggregate HTML calendar of the user’s free-busy data. (Of course you can always choose to select “exclude this calendar when reporting free/busy times” on your calendar properties if you wish.)