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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Changes I would make to Google Calendar if I were a Developer

I love Google and their products. I think I’ve made that pretty clear.  When they first started rolling out changes to their products, I was unsure about the new format of a lot of things. I had finally spent some time getting all of the services I use the most set up just the way I liked it.

But, trying to be less rigid, I switched early so that if I absolutely hated it, I could go back until they made me switch.  Lo and behold, once I got used to it, I really liked it.  The look is cleaner, more modern and I could keep my background image in Gmail.

Now for calendar.  I have always loved Calendar, it’s a fantastic tool that my neurotic organizational side really loves on.  Different colors for each calendar I have control over, plus different colors for each calendar that is shared with me? Um, yes please!  Sharing with my nearest and dearest without having to make copies of my calendar and then call them with changes? Certainly!  Smart Re-scheduler and the Free or Busy tool so I can find a time that works with everyone when I initially create an event; or have to re-schedule due to an unexpected conflict? AWESOME!  I need to call my mom, but she’s in a meeting.  Calendar tells me! Trying to find a weekend to go visit the parents or in-laws? Boom, done. I could go on like this for hours. I need help. Right, well, changes to the new calendar format.

Calendar as is, as of 18 November 2011

Based on my own desires out of Google Calendar and what I have read on forums about the recent changes, here are my suggestions.  And please, feel free to chime in in the comments!  If it’s a great suggestion, I’ll add it to the list!

1. Space

The number one thing I saw on forums (so Google Developers saw it too) was that a lot of people thought there was a lot of wasted space.  I don’t use my calendar for work, so I didn’t really notice how much extra space there was that could really make the calendar area bigger with less intrusion from wasted white space until I looked hard at the layout after reading those comments.

So first, I suggest that you make the search box, when not actively typing in it, smaller width wise so it is only as wide as the ‘Search Calendar’ text and make the “search” button smaller.  I like the symmetry of the button, but I don’t think it needs to be such wide symmetry.  Maybe even bump the search button right up to the search bar. 

With those changes, then you can move the ‘Day, Week….Print, Refresh’ bar up next to the search bar on the right side.  Then move the ‘Today’ button, the Left and Right Arrow Buttons and the Viewing Date up between the smaller search box and the ‘Day, Week…Print, Refresh’ buttons.

Boom, more height space.

And finally to add more space add a collapsible button to the left side of the calendar so you can hide, ‘My Calendars’, ‘Other Calendars’ and the Full Month Calendar and have more width space.

Bam. So easy!

If you don’t want to have the ‘Create’ button disappear when the right side is collapsed, then just move it up next to the ‘Calendar’ text/button!  This also could be moved up to be in line with the ‘search bar’ and the other buttons.  I personally don’t use the create button very often, if ever, but I am sure that as little as I use it, there is someone out there who uses it all the time and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them!

And, finally I have a serious desire to see this last part implemented.

So, Google developer, if you’re reading this, first, Hi! Then second, PLEASE(!!!!) implement this change!  I use several Labs features in calendar and I hate (yes, hate) having those automatically go on the right side.  I would much rather have the option, either by drag and drop or otherwise, to have everything on one side and arrange it to my pleasing.  Please don’t make my flair hide because I don’t want to have my calendar shrunk so I don’t have to have a teeny tiny calendar to be able to see those options!

With spacing changes, pre-left side collapse

2. Colors

So many people are pissed about the color change to the pastels that we have access to now, than the darker colors from before.  I get that, I do.  Except, I have so many calendars that I follow, my own (I have 4 of my own that are currently active and at one point this summer I had 6), several friends, my parents, my husband, the Red Wings, the Tigers, Holidays (Christian and Irish) and a few others.  I feel restricted by how few colors there are.  I want everyone’s calendars to have a distinct color and a different one for each of my own.  There was also one gentleman in the forums who color codes each event in his individual calendar based on how much commitment he had to go to it. Red for not required, Yellow for need to go, but details aren’t finalized and green for all set, need to go and details are finalized.  Smart.

My solution is very simple.  At least to me, I don’t know about a programming point of view.  But my solution is this: instead of only select colors of a certain palette (pastel, primary, secondary, etc) give us a color wheel.  All of the colors, ever.  Like in Paint or Photoshop or Blogger.

3. Making ‘Today’ more obvious.

I’m fine with ‘Today’ being grey in calendar, I usually use Calendar on my phone anyway so it pops right up to the most current day.  But other people aren’t happy with it.  So I suggest leaving the gray, but adding a border of a darker or brighter color, like black or yellow and thickening the border around ‘Today’.

Those are my changes and I’m sticking to ‘em.

All changes (except the color wheel, because obviously, I can't do that with Paint and the extra emphasis on the 'today' because I didn't do it, that's why.)

If you have any other suggestions, drop them in the comments!

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