Cracking calendars

When you think about it, the progress in online calendaring (if there is such a word?) has been one of the web’s bigger disappointments. It’s not for a lack of ideas, services (Google, 30Boxes) or standards (iCal)… maybe it just isn’t sexy enough compared to Flash-ier functionality. But things are finally moving, it seems.
I’m starting to see sites waking up to the potential of offering date-based information in date-based formats. This morning, for example, I added the next few televised Arsenal games into my calendar, thanks to the Arsenal fixture list‘s one-click links to .ics files. And I added details of the train I’m catching shortly, thanks to the new iCalendar links on the fantastic site. Very simple, very straightforward, but a huge step forward in terms of convenience.
And hurrah! – it looks like decent calendaring is finally coming to WordPress. An already pretty good plugin by Kieran O’Shea is set for a major update, with all sorts of powerful new features.
I’m also working with a (very!) high-profile client on a closed-community website, and it’s looking like date-based information could be the site’s ‘killer app’. We’re exploring the possibilities of tying a personalised ‘to-do list’ into a calendar presentation of key dates, so (for example) each task’s deadline appears automatically in your calendar (until it’s completed).
For added convenience, we’re talking about offering a downloadable AIR-based desktop widget / client / thing, which could also include the latest news items from the site (via RSS). An already interesting project is now getting very exciting indeed.