Still No iCal-Exchange Sync

Occasionally I revisit my quest to have my Exchange calendar accessible on my Mac. This past week was one of those times. I spent a lot of time with Google looking for any decent solution. No Luck.

I revisited GroupCal. I downloaded the latest version, and in the process of installing went through all the gyrations of the uninstall/reinstall process necessitated by an OS upgrade – including completely resetting Sync Services. I backed up iCal and created a new, blank calendar. With great fear and trepidation, clicked the sync button. After about 30 minutes, the sync was complete. Yep, you guessed it. There were appointments missing from iCal and worse yet, there were appointments that were deleted from my Exchange calendar.

I continued my search by looking for some way to use Google Calendar as an intermediary. Not much luck there. I did find a Ruby script that had managed to download appointments from Exchange into an .ics file which can then be imported into iCal. That just seemed like too much work. I do get some perverse sense of comfort in knowing that Google Calendar can’t sync directly with Exchange either.

Finally, I was looking for a way to use WebDAV to get at the Calendar information. As usual, Microsoft has a non-standard implementation of WebDAV that is poorly documented. I did manage to find a great bog entry on Microsoft’s WebDAV implementation that includes a link to some MS WebDAV documentation which you can find here.

BUT, Outlook 2007 has the ability to publish a calendar. So I published my calendar by using the service at iCal Exchange. With iCal Excahnge you can publish any of your calendars that are in the iCalendar format. Another nice feature of iCal Exchange is that you can keep your calendar private. To see your Outlook Calendar in iCal, subscribe to you nely published calendar with the URL that iCalendar Exchange generates. The downside to this is your published calendar only gets updated when Outlook is open.One bit of very good news is that Exchange 2007 now provides a web services API. This should make accessing and integrating with Exchange much easier. Of course with Microsoft, one can probably suspect that the Exchange Web Services API does not completely follow standards. We are about to deploy Exchange 2007, so I will be investigating futher.

If you find a solution, please let us know.

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40 thoughts on “Still No iCal-Exchange Sync

  1. I use icalx.com as a webdav server to publish both my ical calendar on my mac and a outlook 2007 calendar from my wifes PC. My wife recieves my calendar no problem. But when I get her calendar it comes up totally different than its supposed to. There is a whole bunch of busy and out of office dates and times. I’m not sure why this doesn’t work.

  2. I use Spanning Sync for iCal and SyncMyCal for Outlook 2007 to sync up my work and home calendars with Google Calendar. Spanning Sync supports works as you would imagine it should. SyncMyCal is more sophisticated in that it supports multiple Outlook calendar folders, Outlook categories, and sync vs. replicate mode. So far I haven’t lost any appointments. Both programs cost money, but they’ve been reliable enough that I found it to be worth it. Oh…and BTW, I sync my iPhone with iCal on my MacBook.

  3. Exchange is a pig. Especially if you have a large number of e-mail, calendar, and contact records. It creates one HUGE file for all of that data, with the requisite memory and CPU requirements. A real pain for those who just want to give access to calendars to other people who use an Exchange server.

    Now, along comes Leopard and the only sync solution for the Mac (Snerdware’s GroupCal) doesn’t work any more. At this point, the Macs in the company are once again an island unto themselves.

    Who is going to build a sync solution?

  4. Damn! Snerdware (Groupcal) haven’t managed to get their act together and have TOTALLY screwed up. Groupcal is totally incompatible with Leopard. A pre-release has been available for a while now and this is yet another example of how little companies like Snerdware fail to take responsibility for their customers. This is unacceptable and even when they do finally actually sort this out… I worry about what else they are failing to do. At the moment all they are offering on their site is an obscure little support article making technical excuses and blaming Apple (i.e. not taking responsibility). DO NOT download Groupal it just crashes on Leopard!

  5. I too am looking for a solution for Exchange entries in iCal. Snerdware is just a huge dissapoinment with their failure and they offer a workaround on their site for Groupcal – “don’t upgrade to Leopard”…. um…err… I don’t think so guys.

    I have only found old scripts here and there for talking to Exchange and importing them into iCal, but no solution that is streamlined. I had been using Entourage in Tiger and I have not and will not install it on my Mac with Leopard now, I hated it.

    I know someone out there has the skillz to make iCal show us Exchange items.

  6. Snerdware’s activation/deactivation process, in addition to its absurdly confusing and convoluted installation process (and it’s, uhh, “unique” deinstallation method), well, it’s overpriced and too often unusable. Skip it. You’re better off doing dual entries by hand.

  7. I agree that GroupCal is not the best. It worked for about a week when I first installed i (on pre-Leopard) and then it totally messed things up.

    I noticed a couple things which might be key to this… unfortunately I have zero programing skills, which doesn’t help a whole lot.

    1) iCal now supports CalDAV. I understand this is a subset of WebDAV, and MS’s implementation is terrible. However, if Exchange now supports an API, I wonder how difficult it would be to write something that spoke CalDAV to clients. Of course then you’d have to get IT to install and use it!

    2) I noticed in Mail.app that it shows my whole exchange folder’s structure including calendar. Now, when I schedule something using my BlackBerry, I see it pop up in this mailbox as a .ics attachment. I’m curious if there is a way to take advantage of that and process calendar transactions via that mailbox in mail.

    Anyway… long story short, count me in to army of users looking for this solution.

    Dave

  8. Keeping it brief: Like so many others, I’m also on this quest. No breakthroughs so far though here either… 😦

    SB

  9. ” I noticed in Mail.app that it shows my whole exchange folder’s structure including calendar. Now, when I schedule something using my BlackBerry, I see it pop up in this mailbox as a .ics attachment. I’m curious if there is a way to take advantage of that and process calendar transactions via that mailbox in mail.”

    Search for a program called You Are Invited. It’s a little applet that will monitor your Mail Inbox for .ics calendar invites and translates them into iCal format.

  10. If Microsoft’s web client (OWA) was full-featured on the Mac (in Firefox or Safari) then I would just do that, but as it is the calendar is not easy for my wife to use. She loves iCal but has no love for the lite version of OWA.

  11. You Are Invited is not well supported and currently is pre-Leopard only. There is however a working Applescript that will process .ics attachments found in your mailbox and add them to iCal (http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20060821073102694, working version of the script for me on Leopard here; http://www.macosxhints.com/comment.php?mode=display&format=threaded&order=ASC&pid=78754).

    Problem with this is that if you’re on an Exchange server nothing is updated in your server copy of your calendar and free/busy goes completely to pot.

    I’m merely hoping that Entourage 2008 will be far far better at calendaring, look a little more like a Mac app, and offer a threading view similar to Mail 3.0 (the threading view rocks my world)!

  12. This is just so frustrating!

    I can’t believe that Apple didn’t do full Exchange interoperability with their Leopard releases. If they had done iCal/Mail to Exchange and Outlook to iCal Server, they’d be able to take over a bunch of business.

  13. Cout me in! Also looking for a way to sync..

    This is kind of of topic.. But on the server side there is Zimbra. Zimbra just came out with the 5.0 release. Zimbra is the “open source version” of Exchange.

    Zimbra Network Edition (cheap compared to Exhange) includes connectors that sync with iCal and other Mac-apps, aswell as connectors for Outlook clients. BUT Zimbra does not “push” appointments to connected clients (my knowledge might be limited though!). You have to select sync intervals. One minute intervals is close enough for me. That way, an appointment will show up in my Outlook calendar 1-2 minutes after I created it in iCal. (one minute iCal -> Zimbra, one minute Zimbra -> Outlook client).

  14. Umm, can anyone verify how well SyncMyCal for Outlook 2007 works? Ankush’s post from October mentioned this but nobody hbas commented on it.

  15. I hope someone gets this working soon for address book and ical with fully busy to exchange 2007, be perfect or lets hope office 2008 entourage is far superior to the old crap we had.

  16. Has anyone tried whether Entourage 2008 and whether that has effectively synchs with ICal. When I tried to sync my exchange calendar with Entourage 04 I ended up deleting all my events from the exchange server. Brutal…

  17. With the announcement of the SDK and Exchange support on the iPhone, I wonder if that becomes the way those of us with an iPhone will wind up getting Exchange appointments & addresses into iCal and Address Book – via a “reverse sync” from the iPhone to the desktop? Actually, if I have Exchange pushing to my iPhone I think bringing a product like Snerdware into the mix (if they EVER resurface with Leopard or Ex 2007 compatibility) might actually introduce errors because of the separate sync engines creating conflics

  18. mopac01 – certainly sounds that way, although I’m anxious to hear the details. An inability to keep my laptop’s calendar in sync would (is) a huge disadvantage.

    In any event, I’d suggest that at this point Snerdware is standing pretty close to the deadpool. Still no support for Leopard six months after its release (and not even a status update on their webpage), and no support for Exchange 2007 a year or more after that was released. I’ve bought the app twice, and have been burned both times. I wish them luck in whatever they do next.

  19. Sync’Em (www.syncem.com) looks to be taking on this problem by providing sync ability between Google, Exchange 2007, and iCal. Currently under development, this may be the solution for those not wanting to upgrade to Snow Leopard. Finally!

  20. Just so you know, Sync’Em 1.15 is now available. It now has a Basic Setup assistant that’ll work for the majority of people (others will need the Advanced Setup … for which there are now tutorial videos).

    Sync’Em also now supports calendar events between Exchange and iCal calendars. Note that recurring/detached events are not yet supported (but will be). Currently they’re ignored.

    We’re currently chasing a problem where syncing stops but that, like other problems that crop up, will get fixed.

    We fully intend to make this a true syncing “hub” and have many things on our Product Roadmap (and many things that are not visible, yet). We don’t expect that Apple will do a very comprehensive job with 10.6 as they’ve not done so, to date. In any event (no pun intended) Sync’Em will offer a broader range of capabilities.

    1. SyncMate is an impressive tool. I think it would benefit the readers if you would explain your work flow. It looks to me as though you’d have to sync your Mac to another PC and not directly to Exchange.

  21. I’ve tried to sync with exchange, judismith, you’re right, SyncMate does not do it directly. It’s possible to sync Mac and Outlook with SyncMate and then set the auto syncing between Outlook and Exchange. So the data in Exchange will be renewed every time there’s new data in the Outlook after syncing.
    There’s a positive point in the direct syncing with PC, you do not need to store data on-line first and then save it to your PC, like some apps do.

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