Monday, March 5, 2018

Why Google Calendar is NOT An Enterprise Solution

I have been toying with ways to get a certain upcoming event schedule into my IBM Notes calendar because the vendor did not provide ANY way to export one's choices from their nice online website.

If this was 2004 I would say they did it for the website hits, but this is 2018!

Anyway I figure the best way, for me a non developer, to to get the task accomplished was to scrape the page and dump it in Excel and then import it into Notes.

Ah, but you are saying already, and I knew this too, there is no way to import an xls file into Notes. One can ONLY import a Lotus 1-2-3 .wk4 file. Since office dropped Lotus 1-2-3 extensions before Office 2013, modern users would be out of luck.

Note to the Notes PM/OM at HCL, please fix this so we can use an .xls /.xlsx in Notes 10.

However one can import an .ics file(if I only had one),  Structured Text (.csv? .txt? maybe?), Tabular text (.csv? .txt? maybe?) so there are options.

As it turned out .csv nor .txt were not working files Notes accepts because no matter which way I tried it or named it or entered information, the client says it imported them but they never appeared.

Not one to give up easily, off I go to my secondary calendar, Google. Google calendar luckily lets one import a .csv file. Hooray!

Loaded it up, found the import option, why it is hidden 3 layers deep in the preferences settings is weird, and the events all appeared on screen, joy! But.... with the wrong times.

You see Google calendar has absolutely ZERO ways to set a time zone when using a .csv. Z-E-R-O!

I am 10 hours in time zones away from the event, as you can imagine my calendar is a mess. Basically the import worked great, all the data in my .csv came in as expected...except the time zone. I read pages and pages of posts, rants and vba scripts to realize Google does not care about the needs of an international person, let alone their company. If you are an entity that never leaves your time zone, it probably is awesome for you, otherwise, what were you thinking making this junk your standard calendar tool?

The only way to fix the time zone issue, before importing the .csv, is to set the times to one's current time zone. So 9:00 AM PCT would be listed in the .csv for me as 7:00 PM. And then you get to pray that when you are in that time zone your phone, calendar and the code all get it right. YIKES!

Alternatively, as I did for the Sunday events, I manually opened the events and set a time zone for them.

Oh and one more quirk Google doesn't care about, try to put a hyphen in your location reference.

You can not do it.

Nope, no way.

You can not add it by itself, with quotes around it, or any other way. No hyphens allowed.

Thus room 120-123 becomes room 120 to 123. Sure not a big deal, but somewhere out there is a developer pulling their hair out until they find this little nugget of an issue.

Hours wasted on what should be and easy, save your agenda to an .ics and import it into your calendar. maybe over the next 12 weeks a better solution will emerge.