What's the best calendar option for a 50-person, Mac-based company?
July 1, 2008 2:40 PM   Subscribe

What's the best calendar option for a 50-person, Mac-based company?

My company is currently very unhappy with our calendar software: Now Up-to-Date. It's consistently sluggish and unresponsive, has an unintuitive interface, has a habit of losing events, and doesn't integrate well with online calendars that some of the staff keep for personal calendars.

We are almost exclusively (but not entirely) a Mac-based shop, with most staff on newish MacBooks. We have 50 staff, and are continuing to grow. We need functionality that includes viewing other people's calendars, allowing for proxy access (ie, allow an assistant to edit their manager's calendar), online and offline functionality, and an integrative and intuitive interface, as well as good stability.

Do you have experience with other alternatives? Can anyone speak to specific experiences with other software?
posted by chefscotticus to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's a stunning lack of groupware on the mac, but your best bet is probably to see if you can get by using iCal sharing via OSX 10.5 Server.
posted by Oktober at 2:51 PM on July 1, 2008

Or, iCal and BusySync to Google Calendar. This lets you use Google's proxy access features while users still enjoy a good desktop UI, offline access, and iSyncing to mobile devices. So, I can create an event on the iPhone, sync to iCal, it BusySyncs to Google where my assistant can see and edit it from her iCal, and from there it syncs to my partners' Macs and mobiles.

It's pretty close, but not perfect. Presumably the Mobile Me calendar to be rolled out this month will lead to a push-sync integrated group calendar down the road...
posted by nicwolff at 3:12 PM on July 1, 2008

iCal + Google Calendar seems to be the preferred solution these days. You're subject to the Google privacy worries ("Dear NSA: I'll be in Phoenix next week with two very large suitcases."), but other than that it works well.

I work one place that does it with an in-house WebDAV server that emulates the .Mac service. It seems to work well (and is actually private). But all events are public and anyone can edit/change anyone else's. I don't know if this is a limitation or it's just how they chose to implement, though.

I've also never tried modifying from my iPhone. I assume it would sync back. Hm. :)
posted by rokusan at 3:21 PM on July 1, 2008

We use Oracle Calendar's desktop client in tandem with our web-based calendar (homegrown, iirc), but we're at a large university and I don't know what the complete system entails. Still, I've had no problems with the desktop client in each of the scenarios you've mentioned.
posted by Madamina at 3:35 PM on July 1, 2008

Take a look at Chandler. It's multiplatform, works well on the Mac and is built for sharing. It's largest con is it's a different way to do calendaring.
posted by tcv at 3:37 PM on July 1, 2008

Zimbra has an open-source version that may or may not offer the iSync and Outlook connectors (and CalDAV support) that the non-free version does for sure. It's pretty solid for 10.4+/iSync and Windows with the connectors and the CalDAV support makes it work seamlessly with iCal in Leopard.
posted by kcm at 3:39 PM on July 1, 2008

Zimbra is great. Georgia Tech is about to roll it out to their entire campus... iCal is a great front end for it, so that's nice.
posted by zpousman at 4:58 PM on July 1, 2008

iCal Server is probably the easiest and most viable choice.
posted by Talez at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2008

do you have Office? (specifically, do you have the standard or professional versions of Office?) you could always use Exchange. there are companies that can host it for you, and you'd get that sweet, sweet push e-mail action with your iPhones when it comes out and you pay for enterprise data. of course, you'll also get that with Blackberries and Windows Mobile devices if you have 'em. if you have real Office, you have Exchange support through Entourage on the Macs and Outlook on the PCs, plus Outlook Web Access.

other than that, iCal Server in Leopard Server is probably the best option. it uses CalDAV so you should be able to use other calendaring programs to get to it from your non-Mac clients. don't hold your breath waiting for MobileMe to have group calendaring though - you can't even host your domain's e-mail through it now.
posted by mrg at 8:39 PM on July 1, 2008

As of Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), iCal supports connecting to a shared CalDAV server for group calendaring. The easiest solution (though perhaps not cheapest) is to buy Mac OS X Server and use its CalDAV solution, called iCal Server.
posted by browse at 8:47 PM on July 1, 2008

My experience with Entourage is that it is a horrible Exchange client prone to losing meetings and database corruption. I would not recommend it.
posted by cnc at 9:05 PM on July 1, 2008

(The problem with CalDAV is not in finding a server that supports it, it's finding a mature client that does - iCal in Leopard is one of the few. Chandler is not ready for prime time. The various Mozilla calendaring clients are meh.)
posted by kcm at 10:47 PM on July 1, 2008

A 50 user Mac OS X Server is no more expensive than a 50 seat solution for Now Up To Date, so that might indeed be the right choice here.
posted by rokusan at 8:40 AM on July 2, 2008

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