I've been searching for a reliable method to automate the synchronization of events from Oracle Calendar (formerly CorporateTime) to my Google Calendar, iCal on my Mac, and internal iPhone calendar on my iPhone.
Recently I learned of a promising iPhone app available at iTunes called Todo+Cal+Sync that could do most of what I was looking for with synchronizing calendars. However, I didn't want to fork over $14.99 for an application that, instead of importing Oracle Calendar events into the native iPhone calendar, added an additional calendar application on my iPhone. Synthesis AG, the developer of the Todo+Cal+Sync application, is required to do this because of limitations imposed by Apple's iPhone software development kit (SDK). In other words, Apple does not allow 3rd part applications, such as Todo+Cal+Sync, to access the internal iPhone calendar, nor sync with iCal. This is a risk/benefit that Apple needs to manage; is the benefit of restricting access to the internal iPhone calendar worth the impact it has on the development of 3rd party applications and subsequent ripple effect? Until Apple's iPhone SDK allow such access, I did not want two calendar applications and continued looking for something that would better match my needs.
After digging around and tinkering with different solutions, I worked out a method that did exactly what I wanted. To make this solution even better, it cost $0 - in other words, FREE!
Below are the steps that I came up with to make the calendar sync work for me. Steps 1-3 are also useful for those who do not necessarily have an iPhone or iTouch but want to sync their Oracle Calendar with other devices and/or calendar apps that support Google Calendar's CalDAV sync.
- Begin by changing your password for your Oracle Calendar user account. Make it a unique password that you are not using anywhere else. In other words, your new Oracle Calendar password should not be the same password as you're using for other email accounts, online banking, eBay, PayPal, etc. This new password should also comply to any password policies that may exist for users of the Oracle Calendar system.
- Create a "magic" URL using SyncML2iCal.com. This URL will be used in step #3. You will want your magic URL to look something like the following:
Example - Oracle Calendar supporting https on port 443
SECURITY WARNING - There is an increased security risk with this method. It's up to you to determine if this is a risk you are willing to accept and that it doesn't violate any policies or restrictions imposed by the organization running the Oracle Calendar service that you are using. The risks include:
- Unauthorized interception of your password from the URL as it's being transmitted to SyncML2iCal.com or from SyncML2iCal.com.
- SyncML2iCal.com itself becoming compromised and allowing an attacker to intercept your password.
In my opinion, the likelihood of the above risks happening are medium to low. You can keep this risk on the lower end by never connecting to untrusted networks or using insecure wireless, which includes wireless networks that use WEP encryption.
Additionally, you will need to determine if the impact of an unauthorized user obtaining your Oracle Calendar password would have a significant impact or not. In most instances, I would imagine the impact would be low.
This is why doing step #1 above is critical in helping minimize the impact if your password was compromised.
Anyone using an application that syncs using the SyncML functionality of Oracle Calendar should take the same precautions irregardless if he or she are using SyncML2iCal.com as a proxy to convert SynchML to iCal format.
- Go to Google Calendar and add a new calendar by selecting Add by URL . You will use the URL you created from step #2. You may also want to change the display name and color of this new calendar on Google Calendar.
- Download and run Calaboration from Google Code. This will allow you to add your Oracle calendar to your Mac's iCal application. Before you can add the new calendar, click on preferences within Calaboration and enable allowing read only calendars to be added. Make sure your new calendar is selected and let Calaboration do the setup work for you. Your Oracle calendar will then sync with iCal.
- Use iTunes to sync Oracle calendar from iCal to your iPhone.
One minor annoying issue I came across was with how day events and day notes from Oracle Calendar were handled by the time they showed up in iCal. Day events and notes from Oracle Calendar showed up in iCal as being a blocked all-day event from 0000-2359. As a quick temporary solution I simply denied day events and notes within Oracle Calendar and re-synced. This temporary approach was acceptable for me since I use Google Calendar to manage my daily notes and I can look at a user's Oracle calendar if I need to know if he or she is on vacation, on-call, etc.
As for effectively managing tasks using your iPhone, see my previous article titled, Tools To Get Things Done.