Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well that was disappointing, I expected better from Yahoo

My Wife and I have a Yahoo group we use for coordinating various family activities, including a Yahoo Calendar. We both have Yahoo accounts we use to log into this shared calendar.

Being the greedy SOB I am, I decided that I wanted to sync this calendar with iCal on my Mac, thus allowing me to sync the calendar data with my cell phone and iPod. The convenience of having the family calendar handy at all times is obvious.

Sadly, I did not find a quick and easy way to automate this process. Sure, I could export the Yahoo Calendar to a CVS file and import it into iCal, but that's a manual process prone to creating duplicates should I do it more than once. I wanted a smooth, seamless integration.

At first I was stymied. The only solution for syncing iCal and Yahoo Calendar data required a cell phone and a "Yahoo 2 go" program which is, sadly, no longer available. Yahoo seems to have dropped support for the utility to sync Nokia S40 phones in favor of a service to sync the higher end "iPhone competitor" phones with Yahoo data. As a result, my phone was too low powered and cheap for Yahoo to deem worthy of syncing.

A little more research turned up plaxo.com, a free service whose goal is to sync data form multiple sources including Yahoo Calendar and iCal data. They claim support for Google contacts and calendar, services, but that appears to be down at the moment.

The problem is that Plaxo only syncs your personal calendar, NOT any group or shared calendars. This is true even if you used the Yahoo Calendar "Time Guides" feature to add other groups to your personal calendar. I can view the calendar data for the shared group just fine, but none of the shared data syncs to Plaxo. I've submitted a bug report on this issue, but have not yet heard back form Plaxo support.

Having gotten thoroughly disgusted with the lack of existing programs, I did what any self respecting programmer would do. I set out to write my own.

Naturally, finding documentation on the Apple Syncing Services, and interacting with the Trusted Data Store used by iCal and other applications was easy. There's a whole SDK for it. It looked like it would be EASY to ahndle this as far as Apple was concerned.

I went to developer.yahoo.com and tried to sign up for an application ID. I was denied.

Even after extensive searching, I couldn't find a Yahoo SDK for interacting with Yahoo Calendar data. While I did find information on a "Desktop" API, Yahoo only makes it available for widget development, and is planning to lock down the API so only signed Yahoo applications can even use it.

Google has a Calendar AIP that's easy to find. Yahoo on the other hand seems determined to keep anyone form doing ANYTHING with Yahoo Calendar data, unless they're using a web browser.

I Could try and write a Yahoo Widget, but it took most of an evening to find out that the Widget API MAY be able to do what I need. I have no interest in investing the time and effort needed to write such a widget only to find Yahoo locks down the API so I can't even use it.

It's clear that Yahoo only wants major players like Nokia to dabble in syncing Calendar data, and even then, they're content to let all but the higher end users with the most expensive phones get to play.

Getting my Google Calendar data into iCal took about ten minutes. After five hours, all I have to show for my efforts to do the same with Yahoo is the hint that it MAY be possible if I write a Yahoo widget to do the work.

If Yahoo only wants users like me to dump CVS files to disk, then they shouldn't be surprised when that feature gets used to switch to Google's Calendar.

1 comment:

=amante said...

Google Calendar is great(supports ical feeds publishing/subscriptions), but as soon as you want multiple calendars on your cellphone, you may find yourself paying for GooSync's upgraded service.

I'm not sure if you previously used Yahoo's beta Contacts Backup (wireless syncml), but unfortunately they are no longer supporting it! which is giving me one more reason to consider leaving Yahoo mail/contacts, unless like you, I dig into the API and write my own....