UPDATE: Trumba has terminated their free and low-cost service aimed at consumers and small/medium businesses, and is now focusing exclusively on large customers with an event management service that's priced at $99 per month. I've switched to Google--as I predicted in my original post below, resistance was futile--but I'm really not a fan. If you know any any better alternatives, please contact me.
UPDATE 2: I'm really unhappy with Google Calendar's lack of display customization, so I've switched again to CalendarHub. I tried 30 Boxes, and I liked a lot of their features, but the inability to display a list of upcoming events (as in my sidebar here) was a deal-breaker. I also looked briefly at AirSet, but they have no options for publishing personal calendars at all. CalendarHub isn't great--the interface for adding and editing events is clunky and slow--but it essentially does what Trumba did. We'll see if they can hold out longer than Trumba did.
I'm writing a lot more about personal and organizational development than technology these days, but I recently started using Trumba, an online calendar service, and so far I'm sufficiently impressed that it's worth a post.
Like millions of other people, I somewhat reluctantly use Outlook for my main personal productivity functions: email, contacts, task lists, and calendar. I seriously considered switching twice in the past 18 months, but for a variety of reasons decided the juice wasn't worth the squeeze. And then earlier this year David Allen's GTD and Outlook actually transformed Outlook into a much more useful tool for me. (I don't use the GTD plug-in for Outlook, I just adopted the strategies outlined in Allen's 40-page guidebook.)
But having decided to stick with Outlook, I still needed an calendaring tool that would allow me to publish information about upcoming events on my schedule. Optimally it would integrate with Outlook as well, but if I had to maintain it separately that was OK. Note that I wasn't looking to replace my Outlook calendar--I just wanted an additional tool that would allow me to create and share a public version of my calendar.
I looked into Google's GCal and Backpack's calendar and a few other services, but nothing did exactly what I wanted, particularly when it came to publishing and sharing my schedule. GCal's options have improved a lot over the past few months, but it's still not flexible enough for me. (And although I'm a heavy Gmail user, I typically route all my email to Outlook and work with it locally, so currently there's not much value to me in centralizing my calendar and email on Google's servers. At some point,
resistance will be futile Google will make it worth my while, but not yet.)
And then I learned about Trumba through TypePad. Bingo. Here's what I like about it:
- Publishing Options: Highly flexible and configurable. Link to your calendar, display your calendar, display a calendar graphic, display a list of upcoming events, allow users to change the template, allow users to filter and search your calendar--you can even create a crawl.
- Sub-Calendars: Trumba makes it very easy to create "sub-calendars" that have a parent-child relationship to your main calendar. You can mix and match events between the sub-calendars and your main calendar, and you can publish the sub-calendar separately, which is great if you have different audiences for your published calendars but you want to maintain them in a centralized location.
- TypePad Integration: Trumba is a TypePad widget partner, and you can create a list of your upcoming events, like the one in my right-hand sidebar, directly from Trumba's site. I prefer to create a TypeList manually instead, because TypePad gives you more control over TypeLists than they do over widgets, but Trumba still makes it easy to get the code you need. And functionality aside, the fact that Six Apart chose Trumba as their partner says good things about their business prospects.
- Outlook Integration: I haven't sprung for Trumba's paid service yet ($10 a month, or $100 a year), but if I really become a heavy user, the biggest incentive to switch will be the ability to manage my Trumba calendar directly in Outlook. (Presumably it's a two-way synch, but that's not clear.) At the moment, the free service is fine for my needs, but I'll take a serious look at switching in a few months.