More on Calendar Integration

One of the features we continue to get great feedback on is TripIt’s ability to add your trip details to your calendar, thus eliminating the “cut and paste” routine.  Our dream is for TripIt to sense when you buy travel services and automatically add the details to your calendar just like a great personal assistant.  We’re not fully there yet, but we do have a number of “add to calendar” options to choose from, depending on what kind of calendar application you use and how you use it.  Please let us know what you think about the following choices:

1.    iCal feed. This is the easiest option if you use a calendar application that accepts an iCalendar feed, such as Outlook 2007, Google Calendar, Apple iCal, etc.  See our FAQ on iCal for more information.

  • Pros – The benefit of using the iCal feed is that you install it once and your TripIt travel plans will forever be kept in synch with your personal calendar automatically.
  • Cons – The disadvantage is that not all calendar applications yet accept iCal feeds, including Outlook 2003.  Also, in Outlook 2007, the iCal feed is not added to your primary calendar and thus may not be automatically synchronized with your mobile device.

2.    Microformats.  Andy has marked up many of TripIt’s pages with microformats.  This has many applications.  Regarding calendars, microformats enable you to turn any trip item into an .ics file and add it to almost any calendar client, including Outlook 2003.  To do this, you will need to add a microformat reader plug-in to your web browser.  For more information on microformats and where to find a microformat plug-in, see here.

  • Pros – Easy to use.
  • Cons – Requires a microformat reader plug-in for your browser.  (We have not found one yet for Internet Explorer.)  Also, this requires the user to add each item to the calendar and once you’ve added the item to your calendar, it won’t be automatically updated if you change the item within TripIt.

3.    Plaxo.  Plaxo is a great tool that many of us here at TripIt use.  In addition to being an outstanding way to manage and synchronize your contacts, it has a powerful Outlook plug-in that can keep your calendar in synch, too.  You can add your TripIt iCal feed to your Plaxo calendar on the site; we are still working out some issues with getting that feed to then synch with your Outlook calendar, but stay tuned for an update on that.

  • Pros – Install once and it works forever.  Provides a nifty way to get an iCal feed into Outlook 2003.
  • Cons – Requires you to be a Plaxo user (although it’s a free tool, so there’s not much to stop you from becoming one!).  Doesn’t update the calendar quite as often as some other calendar applications, which means there can be a lag of several hours or more between when you add an event to TripIt and when it shows up in your calendar.*NotePlaxo’s Outlook plug-in doesn’t yet pull in iCal feeds you have loaded into your Plaxo calendar, so Plaxo won’t get your TripIt appointments into your Outlook calendar just yet.  But we’re hoping to get that working in the near future… stay tuned.

4.    Outlook plug-in (closed source).  You can buy a plug-in for Outlook which enables Outlook 2003 to accept an iCal feed.  Kenner-Price offers this software solution for $29.95, but we’ve negotiated a $5.00 discount for TripIt users — just enter the discount code TripIt when you place your order.  At the moment, this only works with Windows XP, not Vista.

  • Pros – Easy solution for Outlook 2003 users.
  • Cons – Costs money and at the moment it only works on Windows XP and not Vista.

5.    Outlook plug-in (open source).  There is a free iCal plug-in for Outlook 2003 on XP.  It works well (TripIt’s president uses it successfully), but it is admittedly not easy to install.

  • Pros – Free is always nice.
  • Cons – The installation instructions leave much to be desired and installing this can be a frustrating experience even for the technically literate.

Again, please let us know what you think of the above options and whether you come across any others we should know about.

- Scott

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