OR : How Standards Saved The Day.
I had an unusual request yesterday, a user had purchased a new Palm based PDA and they wanted their addressbook and calendar put onto the device but they didn’t want the deviced placed in their cradle or have any extra software installed on it. It was for a one time only sync so a little lightbulb went off inside my head and I knew exactly how to do it.
Most PDA’s and personal organisers know how to import and export using a standard format, for address books this format is called vCard (.vcf) and for calender entries it is called vCal (.vcs). Both these standards are common in most software however unfortunitly Lotus Notes only supports the exporting of vCards for the address book.
The Address Book :
The address book was the easier of the two. Just do an export of the address book into a FAT V3 vCard. This is a single file that includes all the the selected addresses. You can do this directly using the File Export function in the Notes client, just make sure you set the export type to the correct format.
The Calendar :
This involved an extra step. The first step is, as before, export the calendar to a single file. When doing the export, however, you will notice that there is no option to select vCal as the export format. Instead you need to export the file using the Structured Text format. Now that you have a text file with all the calendar entries the next trick is to convert it into a vCal type file. vCal files are just standard text files except with a totally different formatting to the one you just exported. You could write a routine to convert the file into the correct format but if your like me then you will want to do it the lazy way. I did a quick search of the web and found a small utility that somebody had written to convert Lotus Notes Structured Text exports of a calendar into vCal files. You can find the program here : http://www.theossoft.net/handy.html
And Onto The Device :
Ok, so now we have our two standards based files, one for the addressbook and one for the calendar. How do we get them onto the device without putting the device into the cradel? Well that was the simple bit. Infra-Red ports on laptops and pdas will allow you to transfer files at the touch of a button. Transfer the two files onto the PDA, the PDA then recognises the file formats and imports them into the correct applications.
Standard import and export functions a very handy. Hopefully Lotus Notes will have direct exporting of vCal files in the future.