Friday, July 21, 2006

Federated Free/Busy

I just got back from the Open Group Conference in Miami, where I demo’d some of the things we’re working on here at TimeBridge. The demo was in response to the Open Group’s Federated Free/Busy Challenge, which was initiated by Boeing.

Boeing, like many companies, has a network of external partners which work closely with the Boeing employees. Each partner is on a different calendaring system, which makes scheduling a big pain since there is currently no easy way to see each others’ free/busy time. Not only is this a frustrating experience for employees, but it adds up to lots of wasted time.

For our part, TimeBridge put together a public free/busy server that allows users to publish their free/busy data, making accessible to other systems. In our demo, we used the TimeBridge Toolbar for Outlook to pull the free/busy time of users across organizations while scheduling a meeting. Using our service, it will be super easy to publish your free/busy data to a public server, where it will be available to the people you trust.

At TimeBridge, we believe that federated free/busy information is an important first step. It provides an initial rough cut at a possible meeting times. On its own, it is incomplete, but it becomes really powerful when combined with a system that allows organizers to propose multiple times, quickly collect preferences from attendees, and close on a time that works for everyone.

These are the kinds of things we’re working on at TimeBridge. If you’d like to see this in action, we’re currently looking for select beta testers to try out the latest version of our service. If you are interested, just email us at beta@timebridge.com.

Update: The press release is now live.

Director of Product Management


  • Cool Drew!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:19 PM, July 21, 2006  

  • Sounds very cool - If you want to promote TimeBridge to the public - Tanooma may be a platform - it's free and one of the fastest growing websites in internet traffic ranking.

    By Blogger Axel Schultze, at 12:57 AM, July 28, 2006  

  • From the Challenge: "If I could see the availability of all of the people who need to be involved in a meeting or teleconference, I could select a time that is likely to be acceptable and..."

    If TimeBridge is following this model then it's already broken.

    I don't want anyone to see when I'm free or busy. That's my business - not your's.

    If however TimeBridge is a calendaring arbitrator to which I send it general instructions "I need a meeting, here are the acceptable dates, please invite these people(1,2,3...), I'd prefer a morning meeting, the meeting will be for 1.5 hours." Timebridge takes care of all the free/busy stuff, the invites the confirmations and let's me know when the meeting is and who will be attending - I can then accept it or renegotiate. Make Timebridge be the secure manager of my free/busy - I'll trust it in itself. Just don't show everybody else such information.

    By Blogger Dave Cline, at 5:31 PM, August 01, 2006  

  • Dave - You've got some good points. We want to give our users flexibility in sharing (or not sharing) their free/busy information. Some people might want to share only with a few key coworkers and friends, while other people might be much more open. Other people might want to share, but only showing their availability for a single day or week. And of course, some people may prefer not to share any free/busy information at all.

    The bottom line is that we're working on a solution that doesn't require showing others' your free/busy time, but many people find it useful. In general, we think that free/busy information can be a great starting point, but in many cases, it breaks down. For example, my calendar might show that I'm free at 6am, but that doesn't mean I want to meet at that time. And also with the opposite case - my calendar might show that I'm booked from 1-2pm, but if something more important comes up, I'll reschedule my original meeting.

    One size does not fit all and our goal is to be flexible enough to support a variety of sharing models.


    By Blogger Drew, at 10:34 AM, August 04, 2006  

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