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Packages affected: gaim, evolution, telepathy
Indirectly affected: mozilla-thunderbird
Currently Gaim allows you to set away messages, and e-mail clients with calendar add-ons allow you to keep track of scheduled activities. Integration between these should be added so Gaim's away messages can automatically match your schedule.
Many people are both busy and frequently using their computer, and would like to notify their contacts of their status without having to manually enter this information throughout the day.
- Bill is an executive in his company, and frequently has meetings with other executives, the employees below him, and potential vendors. He uses Gaim to interact with those various people, and it is convenient for them to be able to see that he's in a meeting with a vendor until later without having to call his secretary. Meanwhile, he has all of these meetings into Evolution's calendar as his time management software. Often, his meetings run long, so the end time is fuzzy.
- Emily is a university student, and chats with her friends between classes. When in class, she usually sets an away message along the lines of "Calc, Biology, back at 3", but has to do this manually every Tuesday. Her schedule is different day to day, but mostly the same week to week, and being tightly scheduled classes, she always returns from them at the same time. Occasionally however, she will have other events, like going out to a movie with friends, that will be less rigid in their end timing.
Minimally this is a gaim plugin capable of accepting any iCal file. Ideally it (while still optional) is a simple interfacing allowing a checkbox for using calendars from Evolution, Thunderbird, Mozilla, or external other files. Having something similar for Kopete too would be even better.
This should likely be done as a plugin so that it is separate and optional from the core gaim package (unless there's enough demand I suppose). It would be fantastic if it could be set to only import certain categories of event, if possible. In the preferences for the plugin it would have checkboxes for as many common e-mail/calendar apps as are supported, and then one for other calendar files that takes a file path or URL as an argument. The plugin would have to be able to extract such information as event title, start and end time, location, and possibly other comments. Once the settings have been configured and events added to the appropriate calendar, any time Gaim is running with the plugin enabled when an event of an included category comes up, Gaim will automatically set your status to away, with a message including information about the event. ie. "Away - At a meeting with my boss. Will be back around 4:00 PM (ish)" Additionally, there will be options for whether to auto-return, or require user input for coming back. Emily will have most of her events in the "class" category, which in the plugin preferences is set for auto-backs, so once the end time of the event is reached Gaim will reset her status to Available. However, since Bill's meetings go over their scheduled times, they will be set to require him to hit the "I'm back" button or something similar. Emily should also be able to do this for her other events.
Some have suggested that this may overlap with the work of Telepathy and/or Gossip. If it is more appropriate to achieve similar functionality through those, by all means add more detail here about how that works.
This is also related to the feature request in Gaim's sourceforge tracker at http://sourceforge.net/tracker/index.php?func=detail&aid=1011947&group_id=235&atid=350235
Data preservation and migration
The Gaim plugin should not write anything to the calendar files as far as I can think of. This should be able to function in a read-only capacity, which also allows for inclusion of remote calendars like the #ubuntu-meeting schedule that users may not have write access to and minimizes chances of confusing the calendar apps themselves.