CalConnect: 7 Things You Should Know About the Abstract Calendaring API

  1. What is it?

    An abstract calendaring API is a model of calendar data and the operations upon it that is platform-independent. It specifies the rules and constraints on the data elements and ways in which they can be created and modified.

    In contrast to common calendaring implementations such as the CalDAV protocol, the abstract calendaring API does not address implementation details such as authentication, networking or provisioning. Instead, an abstract data model is defined and complemented with a description of operations that can be performed on calendar data.

  2. What scenarios and/or problems does it address, or what new advantage(s) does it confer?

    Calendar information appears in many different contexts such as the web, in process control, as well as the more familiar scheduling of meetings.

    Although calendaring standards and protocols exist, no overall calendaring architecture has been described, and it must be inferred from the existing specifications. A need exists for such a calendaring architecture in which new functionality can be developed to ensure compatibility of existing work, and which relates existing work to the architecture.

    An abstract calendaring architecture needs to be defined to provide common terminology in the form of an API to enable a high degree of interoperability. A calendaring system is made up of various sub-systems that handle the different aspects of data management, scheduling, directory information, etc. (see Calendaring Service Architecture). The components of the calendar system may be provided by different vendors, and thus interoperability between these components is crucial.

    An abstract calendaring API defines a common vocabulary that can be used to resolve ambiguities when attempting to integrate products with other calendaring and scheduling systems or even when contracting development to an external company

    Implementations based on an abstract API can be more consistent in their behaviors. Interoperability is enhanced as the different protocols and implementations all adhere to the same model.

    Some of the scenarios which the Abstract Calendaring API addresses include:
    • Calendaring applications processing device calendar data
    • Scheduling across domains with different calendar services
    • Embedding calendaring in devices such as thermostats
    • Calendaring in web pages
  3. How does it work?

    By providing a common understanding of how to represent and manipulate calendar data, using the abstract calendaring API improves the interoperability of concrete implementations. All possible operations on the data can be defined with their expected outcomes. Implementations can then check their actual results against that expectation.

    An abstract model allows practitioners to consider calendar data and the operations upon it without having to deal with the complexities and requirements of any specific protocol.
  4. Who's doing it?

    Although attempts have been made in the past, there is no accepted standard calendaring architecture or abstract calendaring API.

    The CalConnect API Technical Committee (see below) has begun work to define an Abstract Calendaring API. We will be building on the design and experience gained from existing calendar implementations such as CalDAV and WS-Calendar, to create the abstract API.
  5. Why is it significant?

    Calendaring data already exists in a wide variety of systems. An abstract calendaring API will make it easier to incorporate calendar data in a wider set of applications, such as energy management, logistics, resource allocation and sharing. In the absence of having a common architecture, individual projects will define their own models, possibly lacking compatibility with existing protocols and data.

    As the use of calendaring and scheduling protocols increases to address requirements for scheduling independent of traditional calendaring, the need for an architecture and abstract API becomes even more important to ensure that implementations can take advantage of existing implementations, libraries, and other components.
  6. What needs to be done, and what is CalConnect doing?

    CalConnect has chartered a Technical Committee, TC API to define and document a calendaring architecture encompassing the existing calendaring and scheduling standards and protocols, and develop an abstract calendaring API which encompasses all of the major functionality and the object model currently available in the base calendaring standards. In addition to the Abstract API Recommendation, TC API will present a simple instantiation of the abstract API.
  7. What are the implications for calendaring and scheduling?

    The abstract calendaring API opens the door to greater interoperability, and wider usage of calendar data in a broader range of applications.

    Software vendors will be able to easily incorporate calendar data within their products, particularly those where calendar data is secondary to their product.

Need more information?

Calendaring Service Architecture Diagram
Calendaring and Scheduling Glossary of Terms

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