There's no shortage of Web-enabled calendar applications and personal information managers. It's also possible to schedule conference rooms and other resources using your intranet plus yet another program - WebMan Technologies' Timecruiser 1.1 places all of these functions in one package, saving you expense and training. And the software's Java foundation means it runs on most Web servers and desktop systems.
In return for this platform independence, Timecruiser (like most Java server applications) requires some extra prep time. For example, loading the software on a Microsoft Windows NT ser-ver with a Netscape Enterprise server required searching Web sites for Perl (5.001 or later) and the Java Virtual Machine. Still, setup is well- documented, and a diagnostic application helps isolate potential problems during installation.
On the client side, there's nothing required aside from pointing your browser to the server and logging in. Loading the Java components required about four minutes over a 28.8Kbit/sec dial-up connection, yet performance was very acceptable using a corporate LAN (less than 30 seconds to get operational).
On startup, Timecruiser could display my personal calendar in either traditional daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly formats. Plus, I saw links to public calendars, such as those for conference rooms or corporate-wide affairs.
This package bypasses the complexities of e-mail event scheduling, yet gives you satisfactory control over attendance.
For example, I attached an R.S.V.P. "capplet" (calendar applet) to an agenda item. After someone res-ponded, the reply appeared in my Timecruiser Inbox. This architecture also let me forward schedule ent-ries to another user's personal calendar.
Similarly, the person creating an event can mark it private, group, or public. You can also assign someone to "assistant" status, which lets them schedule events in your private calendar.
When you schedule group happenings, Timecruiser looks through the calendars of the members you've selected and finds common open time slots. The software then selects the most suitable period, creates the group event, and forwards the information to all members. (It will also send notices to conventional e-mail addresses.)Likewise, individuals may invoke the search function to schedule a particular conference room and meeting with selected co-workers. In this case, you specify the date and time range desired. The search function is also helpful to find a particular event in a busy calendar, like a particular seminar or class.
Besides the R.S.V.P. and forwarding capplets, Timecruiser ships with a few others, such as one that opens an HTML Web document. Additionally, this open architecture helps developers extend Timecruiser. The included API, for instance, lets you connect any well-behaved Java applet to a calendar posting.
Timecruiser has an unusual mix of calendar and scheduling functions that work through a variety of browsers - on different computing platforms. A few additions would be nice, such as offline scheduling and the ability to attach documents - both of which are planned for another release. But Version 1.1 is very usable as it stands.
This economical client/server application satisfies scheduling and calendaring needs via your intranet.
Pros: Access via any Java-capable browser; multiple security levels; keyword search; e-mail integration.
Cons: Sluggish dial-up performance; multiple setup procedures.
Price: $US495 (25 calendars); $US945 (50 calendars); additional calendars and yearly licences also available.
Platforms: Client: Windows 95, Windows NT; Macintosh; JavaStation; Sun Sparc, Hewlett-Packard, and SGI workstations. Server: almost any Web server supporting CGI 1.1.
There is no current Australian agent for this product.