This week, Ryan and I are setting up a webinar for people that use Lotus Notes (this webinar is of no interest to people that do not use Notes, unless they want to see what they are missing. But more on that in an upcoming post).

Our company uses GoToWebinar for our web conferences and events and they do an excellent job hosting and managing large events for us. Anyway, sign ups are going well (and fast) but I've already received several questions like this:
...why is there no button to add this to my LotusNotes Calendar, but there was one for Outlook?


Good question.

Unfortunately, the Outlook calendar event link is created and included in the event confirmation automatically. We have no control over it. Still, it's a reasonable question. I'd like to see a link for Notes users or, better still, just a generic calendar event link that any calendar app can understand.

16 years ago, I was an active participant in the Electronic Messaging Association (EMA) and I was on the vCalendar committee that was headed up by one of the guys from the IBM Lotus Organizer team. One of the goals was to have a single standard to allow calendar data to be exchanged. Many companies have built upon that early work, but it looks like we have a way to go. On the marketing side, I think the folks at GoToMeeting should consider their non-Outlook users, too.

What we really need is a universal calendar format that all calendar clients can read and for web sites to adopt it.

Meanwhile, I'd like to see a tool in native Notes that can read in an Outlook calendar invite. Is there a trick or a tool that would help with this?

If it isn't already on a wish list somewhere, and I'm sure it must be, perhaps Mary Beth Raven's team would consider something like this in an upcoming release of Notes? (Nevermind. See update below)

If you are using Notes 8.5.1 you can open Outlook Calendar events (.ics files) and either add them to your calendar or subscribe to their calendar. I'll blog more about this shortly.

Discussion/Comments (10):

Phil Salm (): 3/31/2010 5:06:25 PM
This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

You should try using LotusLive Events instead.

Eric Mack ( 3/31/2010 5:09:38 PM
re: This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Frankly, Phil, I have no experience with LotusLive Events. We used to use SameTime for web conferences and, unfortunately, ran into too many issues with company firewalls or installing java code that cause the user to wonder if things were working. (I believe Lotus Live has probably fixed all of that by now.)

We've been a long-time GoToWebinar user and have had great success with their service - especially how they manage large events. They handle the entire event management process and they make the delivery process easy, too - including recording events for rebroadcast - something I do not know if LotusLive events can do yet.

Do you happen know if Lotus Live Events solves the "add to your calendar" issue? How do they do at managing the entire event process? Perhaps it is something we could consider for a future event if it is better than GoToWebinar for attendee and presenter alike.

Ed Brill ( 3/31/2010 6:41:12 PM
This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Eric, did you try the "add to your Outlook calendar" link to see if it worked with Notes? Many sites that say "Outlook" mean vCalendar.

At any rate, as a customer of GoToWebinar, why don't you contact them and ask *them* why their link is labelled as Outlook-specific? We as a vendor can partner and encourage all day long, but until ISVs hear it from paying customers, they often won't act. Then when they do hear from paying customers, they often want to act quickly.

Eric Mack ( 3/31/2010 7:15:51 PM
re: This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Ed, I'm embarrassed to say, NO, I did not try that, and apparently neither did the many IBMers that wrote to me to complain why there was no "Click to add to Notes Calendar." I just tried it and IT WORKS. (I now recall that you blogged about this way back when.) This is fantastic. While I cannot change the link that GoToMeeting focuses on our Web event, I can probably add a comment for Notes users to tell them to click on the outlook link.

Ed, I must admit that I have become accustomed to ignoring the Outlook links or simply getting frustrated when I see them on LinkedIn or GotoMeeting that I ignore them. It wasn't until we had many IBMers write to us to ask why there was no "Lotus Notes" link that I really thought about it.

As far as contacting GoToWebinar, Ryan's already contacted them. I don't know if they can or will fix it before the event, but we'll certainly request it.

As far as Notes 8.5.1 and it's ability to read .ics files, I think everyone needs to know about this (again), so I will write up a blog post in the next few hours. Thanks for the tip, and thanks to MBR's team for the fine work. This is yet another great reason to upgrade to 8.5x!

John Lindsay ( 4/1/2010 6:28:42 AM
This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

I mentioned this to Paul Mooney a couple of weeks ago as well when registering for one of his Bluewave ({ Link } ) Webinars and I think he said that he had raised it with the GoToMeeting folks as well.

Phil Salm (): 4/1/2010 6:38:53 AM
This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Hi Eric,

You're correct, LotusLive Events does resolve the issues that old versions of Sametime had. No Java applets are required for attendees (or any other client, for that matter), and it handles firewalls as well as any other hosted web conferencing solution out there.

It also has tools for managing your events, including: online registration (with optional approvals and custom forms), email notifications with calendar attachments, rehearsal options, event templates, pre-event reminder emails, and post event follow-up emails. It does a great job recording, including the audio from your phone audio conference. And it also provides a great summary report after the meeting as well.

Phil Salm (): 4/1/2010 6:39:48 AM
This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Sorry, meant to include this with my prior response. Here's the URL to learn more about the LotusLive Events service:

{ Link }

Eric Mack ( 4/1/2010 9:43:45 AM
re: This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Thanks, Phil. I'll have to look into it. I'll try to find some reviews, too. What we have with GoToWebinar works great so I would only switch for something better.

Isabel (): 7/24/2010 9:36:55 AM
This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

What you relaly need is to stop using abandonware for your business and focus on what works and people use: Outlook. If you do not agree, I challenge you to write me and solve my problems with Lotus notes (IBM product) and Lotuslive (IBM product). How can you expect people to adopt your products when they do not work between themselves? I was cheated by IBM and contracted a whole Lotuslive year, now I am nowhere. Total loss of money in the middle of the crisis. And BTW, if Microsoft would act as IBM has treated us, you would be kicking them around.

Eric Mack ( 7/24/2010 11:52:44 AM
re: This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar

Hello Isabel,

I would be happy to help you.

You indicated that you are having problems with Lotus Notes and Lotuslive but you do not indicate what the problems are. Perhaps you can reply to this blog post with a description of your system set up and the problems you are experiencing. If I can't find a solution, there's a large readership of very smart Notes and Lotus Software users on this blog that would also be happy to assist.

For starters, we'll need to know how your system is set up: (Mac/Windows/Linux) System configuration and what version of Lotus Notes you are running (Choose "Help About Lotus Notes" from the menu to find out the version).

Then, if you will briefly describe the problems you are having with Notes and LotusLive, we'll see if we can find some answers.


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