Pre-KEP: New mode for freebusy generation?!

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at
Wed Jul 6 10:49:56 CEST 2011

Here is a situation we have encountered with users
I would be interested in your thoughts about it.
Are their alternative solutions?
Does the suggestion make sense?

I plan to turn this into a KEP if the reaction is positive,
maybe I'll add the situation to the wiki in any case. 

ps.: Continue conversation in kolab-format@ please, I've send a copy
     to kolab-devel@ because this partly is an implementation question.

  Here is a group of ten people working together the purchasing department.
  Six women and four men, with the boss being out of the larger gender group,
  having a male deputy.

  Everyone knows each other quite well on a personal level 
  and they tend to work on special topics by changing smaller groups.
  Overall there are many meeting held, where one or several people
  from the department participate and meet with folks from other
  parts of the company or from outside.

  They like to be able to suggest meetings for their colleagues 
  without asking each time. An overview of all appointments of the department
  is needed, as details and participants change quite often 
  and they need to account for vacations.

  The organisation is using Kolab with native clients and they have 
  set up a group folder for the purchasing department where all ten people
  have write access and share their appointments and vacation days.
  Each person still has a personal calender folder used for private 
  appointments, where nobody else is having access. 

  An alternative modeling was considered: 
  Using two folders - a personal and a private one - per person. 
  And give everyone read-only access to the personal folders.

  In their experience this did not work out. It was too much of a hassle.
  Changes are often made directly, without the need to send out updates 
  that need agreement by the participants. And configuring a nice view with
  all this folders was not easy as well.

  To suggest good new meeting times, they would like to see who is
  available and who is not. Because they all enter their appointments
  in the one group folder, the resulting personal freebusy lists
  with Kolab Server 2.3.2 or earlier are not useful. They either contain
  to much or too little "unavailable" times.

Technical Details

  There does not seem to be a good solution for the needs of the purchasing
  department with how the current freebusy generation works. 
  Each folder can have three modes, see [1] 
    - events in this folder are freebusy relevant for nobody
    - events in this folder are freebusy relevant for administrators 
      of this calendar folder (default)
    - events in this folder are freebusy relevant for everyone 
      with read access to this folder
  and the event specic values of "show-time-as" is also considered
  as either BUSY or to generate no entry, also see [1].
  No matter how the common folder of the purchasing department is configured
  it does not work out. If they set it to not being relevant, the
  appointments in there will not be in the freebusy list. If they set it
  to relevant for every reader, there will be too much time blocked
  because everyone will only participate in some meetings, but all will
  be in everyones freebusy list.
  The vacation times span many days, they either block this for everyone 
  or are not in the freebusy list.

  Just looking at the calender to make the appointments will not be enough
  as there are still the private calenders that get factored in the freebusy
  lists. For people from outside of the department this also would not be
  a choice as they lack access to the purchasing calender folder. They can
  only access the freebusy list.

What can we do to support this need with Kolab?

  One suggestion is to add a new mode of generating freebusy informations
  to the Kolab Server side. It basically will only consider confirmed
  participants to each appointment.
  So we add a new value for the "incidences-for" annotation, 
  called "participants".

  For each enty in a folder with this annotation, the freebusy generation
  will consider: show-time-as accordingly, so no entry if it is "free"
  Then consider each participant who is confirmed or tentitavely confirmed
  and the entry to the participant's pfb and pxfb.

Managing Director + Owner: <- A Free Software Company Board Member Founding GA Member
Intevation GmbH, Osnabrück, DE; Amtsgericht Osnabrück, HRB 18998
Geschäftsführer Frank Koormann, Bernhard Reiter, Dr. Jan-Oliver Wagner
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