Calendar Apps Suck, But They Don’t Have To

If you’re reading this post, then you probably use a digital Calendar of some kind - Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook - it doesn’t matter, they’re all pretty much the same.

With typical calendar apps, you can only see a fixed amount of time at once - a day, a week, or a month. If you’re in the day-view, tomorrow (and everything else) completely vanishes. The week-view is better, but towards the end of the week, you can’t see next week, and the month-view is just horrible.

The past takes up as much space as (or more than) the future, but I don’t care about the past most of the time. Also, there’s no differentiation between very-important and not-important - everything looks the same.

This is horrible in multiple ways. It’s horrible because of all the wasted screen space. But also for planning ahead and big-picture thinking:

  • What do the next two/three months look like?
  • When should I take my vacation?
  • What important deadline is coming up soon?

Instead, I’d like to see:
  • Today in great detail
  • An overview of next 6 days
  • A smaller overview for the rest of the year

Overdoing the Metaphor
The problem is most calendar apps take the metaphor - a paper calendar - at face value. We can so much more. After all, months and weeks are purely human inventions.
I’m not the only one to have this idea. Ben Brooks wrote a great post about Calendar Apps. As did Marco Arment and many others. But I still haven’t seen a digital calendar that breaks free of the calendar metaphor.

The Agenda
Some calendars attempt to break out of the metaphor with a list of upcoming events, also called the “Agenda.” This is the most obvious solution, and while it is a small improvement, does not go far enough. It replaces one problem with another  - you can’t get a gist of when an event is without reading the date next to it (the loss of a space to time mapping).

LogCal
With a purely digital, online calendar app, we can do better. We can make the view dynamic based on the current date/time, we can hide the past, we can embed  additional information in an event, the calendar can be accessed from anywhere (desktop, phone, tablet), and we can easily share events with others. LogCal seeks to do these things.
LogCal reinvents the online calendar from the ground up. By showing gradually less information further into the future within a single column, it shows you a simple glimpse of your entire calendar in one page.
LogCal seeks to remake the calendar to capture both the small and big-picture in one page, using the latest web-technology, minimalist design, and intelligence built-in.

Screenshot

The main view of your calendar is a single column so you can easily scan it. The calendar shows you the most detail for events in the current hour (every 15 minutes). The rest of the day is broken out into hours so you can easily see what’s happening today. Tomorrow’s events and the next five days are summarized when you scroll down. Lastly, the rest of the month and year are shown condensed to a small space. This way, you only see what’s important to you right now, without the clutter.

In addition, LogCal has the following features:

  • Email reminders for important events
  • English text (free form) input of events
  • Ability to share your calendar with your friends
  • Ability to share a single event with your friends 
  • Works in every web-browser, including smart phones. 
  • Optional event description and event importance.
  • No Ads. No clutter.
Is it feature-rich and complete? No. I have much more work to do. But the core of the idea is there. Very soon LogCal will have the following:
  • SMS and phone-call reminders
  • All day/multi-day events
  • Import events using the standard iCalendar format
  • Attachments on events
  • The ability to meld calendars together
  • Multiple owners for one calendar
  • Busy/Free-time sharing (share only what time you’re busy)
  • Smart reminders (auto-magically generate reminders based on the timing of the event)

A calendar app may not seem important, but to many, a calendar app is an integral part of their daily life. Preparing for an exam, scheduling a doctor appointment, planning a vacation, scheduling a meet-up, planning a wedding or birthday - these are all important events where a calendar app can make a difference.

If LogCal sounds like the kind of calendar app you want, please check it out and support me in this effort.

Updated screenshot.

Updated screenshot.