Maemo5 Calendar — is it cruel joke?

I was using many different mobile devices during last years. Some were GSM phones, some were PDA, now I use Nokia N900 which tries to join both functions.

When I saw calendar on N900 I thought: Is it some cruel joke? But then I got to simple conclusion: designers and developers never used anything newer then Nokia 5110 and never saw (or heard) about PDA devices. I do not see other reason for creating such brain damaged application.

What it supports? Simple events in few local calendars with simple repeat, simple only predefined alarm times, todos (without priority). User gets unusable month view + nearly not usable week view + agenda view. And desktop widget which does not allow any configuration. Probably even PalmOS 1.0 DateBook was more advanced (I would have to check on PalmPilot 5000 which I have in basement).

What it lacks? List would be quite long but I will list few most important things:

  • custom alarm times (I like 1:15 alarm times) — now it does not even display such properly
  • edition of repeatable events without breaking repeat cycles
  • extended repeat possibilities (like: 1st Tuesday in month, every 3rd Saturday)
  • remote calendars
  • portrait view
  • configurable work hours in week view
  • day names in date picker (PalmOS like chooser instead of iPhone like rolling lists maybe)
  • search function
  • attendees support

What makes situation even worse is amount of reported bugs against Calendar. Many of them got resolution ‘MOVED’ which is other word for WONTFIX as it looks like everything which lands in so called ‘brainstorm’ area of maemo.org website is on a list of things to forget.

So far there is only GPE calendar which can be used instead of Maemo one but this one does not have working alarms (without running it in background or using ugly GPE summary widget). Platform is so niche that there will be no commercial application to fill that hole and that’s sad. And I do not require port of PalmOS Agendus (the most advanced PIM I ever used on mobile devices) but something usable.

22 thoughts on “Maemo5 Calendar — is it cruel joke?

  1. Jon Pritchard

    Oh dear, not having really moved on at all from the S60 calendar is bad. I was hoping that it would be more feature full, like a desktop client. I want to sync them remotely.

  2. m4lvin

    FULL ACK. I have been using an E61 before which looks somewhat like an old calculator but when it comes to pda stuff compared to the N900 its like a car before the invention of wheels…

    question is: how can we (=everybody who wants) really work on this? is the calnder code part of maemo and therefor free? or can one actually replace the calendar?

  3. Naranek

    Thanks for the post. Calendar is one of my main apps on N800 and I was hoping to get rid of the GPE Calendar by switching to N900. It’s really good to know that it’s not going to happen.

  4. David Mery

    Spot on. It is indeed curious how Nokia could have missed so many essential requirements for the Fremantle calendar app. Quality of calendar apps has gone down since Palm OS and Psion EPOC (Series 5mx) ones (and even since the one on the Communicator).

    A year or so ago I tried all the calendar and contact apps I could find that were available for the N800 and was surprised by how bad they all were. There doesn’t seem to be much developer interest in what appears to be essential from a user point of view.

  5. jukey

    On the other hand you can syncronize the calendars using Active Sync (Exchange) or syncevolution (SyncML).

    I also like the different views (weekly, monthly and agenda).

    But I agree with you that the features you have listed would be big improvements to get a more usfull calendar application on maemo5.

    Ciao jukey

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz

      I do not have MS Exchange 2007 account and prefer to keep it that way.

      And solving problems by syncing is not solution as it means that I would have to use other device with proper calendar just to workaround problems of N900 one. So why use N900 at all?

  6. Chuck

    It is indeed curious how Nokia could have missed so many essential requirements for the Fremantle calendar app

    Probably because while developing Fremantle there wasn’t the time/resources to develop top quality apps, so features were cut to meet a deadline. The objective with Fremantle seems to have been to develop the bare minimum application functionality in order to ship the product.

    I can’t help but think there was ever any intention to develop applications with deep functionality, what shipped is just superficial rubbish that ticks the “Calendar” or “RSS” features box – nobody would use these apps on a regular basis. The browser on the other hand is excellent, but Nokia knew they’d be crucified if that didn’t work, not so with the Calendar as it shows you a calendar with tasks but beyond that it’s hopeless.

    One can only hope (for Nokias sake) that Fremantle is, in fact, just a proving ground for the OS and phone combination, and that the full quality application suite is currently under development and will ship with Harmattan in all it’s glory.

    Obviously for N900 users this is a sick and sad kick in the teeth particularly if Harmattan is not made available for N900 devices, but that’s how Fremantle feels – one more step “4 of 5″ along the path to a decent application suite.

    One more thing – apparently Nokia will NOT be using the “standard” email/RSS/etc applications that come with MeeGo/Moblin. That’s a great shame, as the standard MeeGo apps can’t be as bad as those Nokia have created themselves (Modest is, quite frankly, a disaster of quite epic proportions – how hard is it to write a sodding, working, email client???)

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz

      I have to agree with you Chuck — Fremantle looks (and behave) like “let’s release something at all” software instead of “let’s release something useful”. Browser was easy as they had MicroB working in Diablo so needed to adapt UI and update for newer xulrunner.

      And I think that for me this is last nokia/Linux device which I bought. It was already told that MeeGo powered phone will have closed source calendar app written by nokia developers (so will suxx badly). I do not want to waste money just to get something with crappy software without any good additional applications.

  7. theflew

    Not defending the N900, but I would argue the N900 was meant to be a test bed, thus the current survey that’s out. We know that MeeGo/Harmattan is a rewrite of all the built in apps since it’s QT based. Why include the kitchen sink in the apps when you know you’re going to rewrite them?

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz

      I doubt that Harmattan will get better applications then Fremantle got.

      Urho Kontorri (Project Manager of Fremantle Applications Framework) told some time ago that calendar team which wrote maemo5 version was moved to work on harmattan version. So do not expect anything better ;(

  8. mobiledivide

    I actually much prefer the calendar on the N900 to the S60 one. My use case is very different than yours, I have 4 calendars (2 of them shared) hosted on Google that I sync with the N900’s multiple calendars. I sync using erminig. I don’t need a very sophisticated solution however and hardly ever add events on the N900 itself.

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz

      Sure, you are using N900 calendar as read only so it is fine. I always used my mobile devices as standalone ones without relying on syncing them with desktop or other services.

  9. Mikael Hermansson

    Agree fully. But in the same way anyone knows that Nokia has abandoned Maemo5 in favor of upcomming Maemo6/Meego with QT.

    I really hopes there is a GOOD calendar on that “platform” and also that it will be backported to N900 else Meego/Maaemo5 will never reach bussines people and only geeks will use this platform and thats bad.

  10. Jon Pritchard

    Not having used the N900’s calendar, as I’ve already said, it sounds a lot like there’s been absolutely no advancement from the S60 calendar (which I see as good but nowhere near as comprehensive as I would like).

    Not open sourcing the front-end calendar is curious… what’s the harm in it? I’m pleased that it at least appears as though the N900 will be getting firmware fixes quite regularly, some of which I presume are community fixed bugs. But how are you meant to fix bugs in calendar, or add features to it when it’s closed?!

    SyncML is supposed to be the standard for syncing these kinds of things but yet support for it is still a patchwork in itself among clients.

    I synchronise using SyncML over Bluetooth, with Opensync and Mozilla Sunbird. It’s not perfect, because of a disparity of features between clients, and I guess a lack of support in the protocol too.

  11. Woody

    Your use case is not typical. Most people who use a calendar app on a phone want it to sync with a full fledged calendar system (like Outlook or Google). I would love to be able to alter the alarm on-phone to be 1:15, but since I can do that 3 other places (including on Google from the phone’s browser) and then sync that down, I’m ok with it working in the limited way it does now.

    I also think it’s disingenuous to say the calendar app is “closed” and nobody can re-write it. The API for accessing calendar entries is quite open. Writing your own app that reads and injects data into the existing database is quite doable (there are several sync apps that do just that). If the demand was so high for these improved features, you’d have seen a re-write by now. Instead you see the more common use-case of sync clients showing up to sync with calendar services not supported by the existing software.

    It’s easy to say (rightfully so) that Nokia should have done better for their flagship phone. But the be beauty of an opensource platform is that if you don’t like something, you have a clear way to fix it yourself. Instead of writing a blog bitching about it and replying to every response, you could be writing a new app to do all the stuff you want it to to replace the calendar app with.

  12. jukey

    I’m using Exchange 2003 which also is supported since PR 1.1.

    Regarding sync: I also use my N900 more as an read only device for business calendar entries. So our use cases are different. It seems to be a long way for nokia to a full featured calendar and I can’t understand that they don’t want to get input (patches, enhancements) from the community. Now they have brainstorm output but no ressoures to implement these features to fremantle.

    For my private calendar (synchronized via syncml) the featureset is good enough for 90% of my daily needs. All I miss sometimes is attendee support.

  13. Peter Robinson

    Having just moved to the n900 from a Nokia 6500 it is sad to see such a major regression from Nokia devices that have had the aforementioned basic features for well over a decade (things like 3rd Thursday of every Month). As the calendar backend is based on e-d-s and Moblin shipped ‘dates’ which is open source it might be worth investigating whether the functionality is contained in that, or easily added to that moving forward and then package it up for maemo.

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