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Creating Clickable Appointments

Creating a new appointment in Outlook based on information visible in a browser is a manual process. Automate this process by providing your users with a clickable appointment feature that automatically copies the appointment information into their desktop.


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onsider the scenario in which you are building a Web application that displays events or appointments for different dates. If you want your users to remember this event within their local desktop email/calendar application—such as Outlook, so that they can be reminded about it, your users are faced with a manual task: They have to manually create a new appointment in Outlook and copy all the information to create a new appointment. In this article, we shall see how you can provide a clickable appointment feature within your apps. All the user has to do is to click on the given link and an appointment is created automatically within their local desktop e-mail/calendar application.

Our solution uses the vCalendar format, a powerful new approach to Personal Data Interchange (PDI). PDI occurs every time individuals communicate, in either a business or personal context. These interchanges frequently include the exchange of information, such as business cards, telephone numbers, addresses, etc. The vCard and vCalendar features facilitate PDI electronically.



Creating a new appointment in Outlook based on information visible in a browser is a manual process. Automate this process by providing your users with a clickable appointment feature that automatically copies the appointment information into their desktop e-mail/calendar application.



A manual demonstration
Dissecting the vCalendar file
Using vCalendar in your Web applications

vCalendar is a text-based format published by the Internet Mail Consortium (IMC)—an international organization focused on (as their Web site reports) "cooperatively managing and promoting the rapidly-expanding world of electronic mail on the Internet." The vCalendar format allows different software packages to share information about calendar events using a simple ASCII text format. As of last count, numerous software packages including Outlook, Lotus, and Eudora had support for the vCalendar format. You can find details of this format in this white paper.

A Manual Demonstration

Figure 1. Clicking the Calendar graphic invokes a Drop Down calendar in place.
Let us see how the vCalendar format works. The easiest way to do this is to do a manual test first before we figure out how to incorporate it within a browser-based Web application. Let's use Outlook for this manual test.
  • Within Outlook, create a new appointment for any given day. Fill in all the appointment details:date, time, event location as well as event body details. Do not invite anybody to the event.
  • Click "save" so that it gets added to your Calendar. Now, open the appointment.
  • From the File menu, select Save As.
  • In the "Save as type:" list, select "vCalendar Format (*.vcs)"
  • Save the file as "C:\temp\test.vcs".
  • Close the appointment.
  • Finally, before you proceed, DELETE the appointment from your calendar so you do not have it anymore within your system.

Now let's test to see how a browser reacts to the vCalendar format. Open your favorite HTML editor and create the following HTML file:


<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> <HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>Test for vCalendar Format</TITLE> </HEAD> <BODY> This is an Event. Here are the details<BR> <A HREF="test.vcs">Click here to add this event to your Calendar</A> </BODY> </HTML>

Save the file as "C:\temp\test.htm". As you can see, there is a hyperlink within the file that points to the vcs file created from Outlook.

Now, open your browser and navigate to the html file "C:\temp\test.htm". You should see your html document. Click on the hyperlink and watch what happens. The vcs file is downloaded to your browser and it automatically opens up Outlook and creates an appointment in your calendar from the vcs file.



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