Freebusy and Yadis

So for a while now, we have been trying to figure out a standard means to lookup someone’s freetime from their calendar (called freebusy in the calendaring world).  We knew we wanted a REST service that could be passed url parameters, we even had a demo one up on the net.

The problem, though, had always been how to figure out the url for the service given the user’s e-mail address. Openid, DIX, yadis et al always showed promise, but it always felt clunky to have to first translate an e-mail identifier for the user into an http url based identifier for the user and then ask for an attribute for the calendar service etc. etc. A recent proposal to the yadis mailing list, however, showed the way.  Simply resolve the e-mail address to its domain and use the yadis protocol (section 6) on that to discover a freebusy service for all the members of the domain.

So, for example, let’s say that the e-mail address of someone who I want to schedule a meeting with is  Use the yadis protocol on, i.e. retrieve the page at and dereference the "X-XRDS-Location" meta tag in the html head to get back a yadis document (that looks something like this).

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xrds:XRDS xmlns:xrds="xri://$xrds" xmlns="xri://$xrd*($v*2.0)">

Then extract the endpoint for the freebusy service by looking for the URI that corresponds to a service of type "". Finally, construct the url request that returns the freebusy time in iCalendar format for a given period e.g. Done.

I’ve also hacked a little on webcalendar and got an end point up and running.  The calendar in html is here, but if you want to schedule a meeting with me via yadis and the freebusy api then my e-mail address (for the purposes of the demo) is

Finally, I do want to use the URI Template approach for the URI, but I’ll leave that for another post.

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