Last year when the Tech·Ed 2007 Schedule Builder came out, I complained about how cumbersome it was to use. The idea of having to pick a time period from a drop down list that contains 28 items and constantly having to scroll up and down to view the page navigation and the small calendar view down the side is very “old school” and does not make it easy to use. As a result, I took advantage of the fact that the sessions were published as an RSS feed and created a set of Internet Calendars for each of the technical tracks.
Skip ahead to Tech·Ed 2008 and not much has changed. The schedule builder is still as cumbersome as ever. However, you can now directly subscribe to your customized schedule as an Internet Calendar subscription, which helps with some of the pain of having to add each individual item to your calendar. The drawback is that the subscribed calendar doesn’t include the “pre-filled” events like the opening keynote and the partner expo reception. Hopefully, this will be corrected.
There is also an “Outlook Sync” option, which runs a ClickOnce application. I didn’t see anything actually happen when it ran so I’m not sure what this is supposed to do. It may work if you are connected to an Exchange server, which I’m not.
While the ICS option certainly helps, there is still a whole lot more that could be done. It looks like the sessions are not available as an RSS feed this year, which I hope is an oversight. If that’s the case, as soon as they become available I will create a new set of Internet Calendars for each track which should make it much easier to pick your sessions.
There are also no other alternative schedule builder applications available as well. This may be due to the fact that the RSS feed isn’t available or that people just haven’t had a chance to create them yet. Either way, it would have been nice to see some more improvements in the schedule builder.