The recent launch of Google Calendar has given focus back to the calendaring / collaboration space which has not seen much innovation in a very long time. Google has Gmail, Google Talk, and now Calendar. What does this have to do with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook? For one thing, there are many similarities and many differences. Lotus Notes is a desktop application and Google Calendar is a web application. That is where the line is drawn. However, should that line be drawn or should all these applications (whether they be web-based or desktop-based) be seamlessly interoperable?
The keyword here is interoperability. One of my many frustrations with Lotus Notes is the lack of being able to sync calendar and contacts between all the different email/scheduling software clients out there. Adding more fuel to the fire is the discord between Lotus Notes and the portable devices such as Blackberry devices, PDAs, smart phones, and the iPod. Yes, iPod has a built-in calendar! Granted, Lotus Notes is primarily a corporate application, but the reason I am picking on it is because I work with it at work, and that’s the only place I can use it. I have to jump through hoops in order to export events into a standard format compatible with my home calendar application “Mozilla Sunbird” and iCal on my Mac. If I make changes, I want to be able to import them back into Lotus Notes, a task which is also quite an ordeal. I am not just picking on Lotus Notes. All of them need to make import/export/sync operations much more easier and seamless among devices and web applications.
I do commend Microsoft and Apple for at least making import and export of standard formats possible. The big thing now is for them to make the online experience and desktop experience seamless with each other. As a user, I don’t want to continually import and export events just to keep everything in sync. Events, to-dos, contacts, and emails are just data types. They should all be able to exist independently of the application (whether it be on the web or residing on a desktop).
Update: There is a promising third party web/desktop software company called Plaxo that promises to make that holy grail I speak about possible. Unfortunately, they currently do not support Lotus Notes.