Entourage 2008 conspires to make me busy!

As if it isn’t bad enough that you’re rushed off your feet with appointments, now I have Entourage 2008 creating them out of thin air!

Ok, to be fair it’s getting a little help, in the shape of iCal, Google Calendar and Calgoo Connect. You see as I’ve mentioned before, my holy grail as far as calendars is concerned is to have each of the various calendars I use in sync. So for me that’s:

  • My work calendar, which uses Lotus Notes 8.0 on my laptop.
  • My Entourage 2008 calendar on my Mac.
  • My Outlook 2007 calendar on my PC, which in turn syncs with…
  • The calendar on my Windows Mobile smartphone.

All the time I kept Entourage on my Mac out of the loop, everything was fine and the other three calendars were in step, using Google Calendar as an intermediate step between Notes and Outlook (which are on different machines). So, ever the hopeful, and despite the warnings I’d read from various posts on the web saying it’s a recipe for disaster, I thought “Well how bad can it be?”. Ok, I’ll tell you how bad…

I downloaded a little java program called Calgoo Connect v1.9.0 and set it up to sync iCal on my Mac with my Google calendar. I chose not to use the highly respected Spanning Sync product, only because problems have been reported using it in the gCal-iCal-Entourage scenario, and ever the hopeful I wondered if a different product might be more successful. So, with Entourage 2008 already configured to sync automatically with iCal, it was just a case of installing and setting the new CalGoo connection. Configuring CalGoo Connect was really simple and within moments I was ready to sync. So here goes…


Well you can probably guess from this picture what happened. Instantly, various events were transformed not into duplicates, but QUADruplicates of themselves!! It was the same story in gCal, my calendar was suddenly full of repeat entries! Not to be defeated I thought I would delete all the duplicates from my Google calendar then sync again. Despite doing this, Entourage still managed to duplicate the entries. So, where Spring Bank Holiday appeared 4 times in both gCal and Entourage, I deleted all but one entry in gCal and sync’ed again, only to find it appearing twice in Entourage.

At this point I decided to do a little test. I created a new appointment in Entourage then sync’ed with gCal. Sure enough the new appointment appeared in Google correctly and only once. So far so good. I left it for about 15 minutes then without having changed anything I ran the sync again (the sort of thing that would happen anyway if your sync is done on a schedule). Entourage happily decided to duplicate the new appointment, even though Google was still only showing one occurrence of it.

Calendar mess

So where does this leave me? Well my suspicion is that Entourage attaches some data to a particular event that helps it to identify it, and that this data gets stripped off on the trip to Google. This means that when the connector next presents that event to Entourage having found it in Google, this identifying data is missing and Entourage thinking it’s a new appointment, creates the duplicate. The reason I think this is that the date, time and decription of the events are identical and yet Entourage is NOT seeing the entry as a duplicate suggesting that there’s some other matching logic or data that it’s using. Interestingly enough, iCal only shows the item once in this situation (which is correct).

So why isn’t it the fault of the connector, in this case CalGoo Connector? Well the connector is actually speaking to iCal which is simply acting as a proxy for Entourage in this case. I tested this out by creating an event in iCal and sync’ing it with Google calendar, twice. No problem, the iCal entry didn’t get duplicated.

My feeling now is that until someone comes up with a Google calendar connector that connects directly to Entourage 2008 and not via iCal, then this is going to be problematic. I have to wonder whether or not Microsoft are doing all they should be to enable this to happen? If there is other data connected to Entourage calendar entries that needs to be exposed via the relevant API, then let’s hope Microsoft are giving that information out, or are at least aware that there are many Mac users out there who would like to extend the reach of their Entourage 2008 calendar, without ending up booked solid with duplicated appointments to the end of time!

The alternative, which is starting to look more and more appealing, is to ditch the calendar feature of Entourage 2008 altogether and just use Google calendar instead. For corporate users tied to an Exchange server that wouldn’t be an easy choice, but as a ‘personal’ user it’s looking very tempting.