Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Colored Calendar Phase-In

Some details on how iPhone multiple calendar support is being enabled for our users:
In planning the roll out for multiple calendars there was some concern that the extra load on our servers from processing the transition for large numbers of devices all at once might bring down the entire service. Transitioning a device from the old to the new calendar content involves re-fetching all calendar events and quite a bit of churn in the persistent store, so more CPU and disk and network resources are used than for normal syncing. This led to the adoption of a progressive roll out strategy.
In addition, in order to reduce the risk of widespread service instability, we decided to initially deploy first in a mode where 'old' users did not get the new features but newly signed up users did. The idea was that new users never had working sync and therefore if something unfortunate happened they would be much less upset than existing users who had had working sync beforehand.
The plan was to watch for any reports of badness from new users for a while, then if none were seen, begin to enable multiple calendar support for existing users.
What actually happened was that there were no reports of new problems but there was an unrelated server stability issue over the weekend. Investigating that issue delayed the beginning of the 'old user' roll out, and in the meantime someone leaked the existence of multiple calendars for new users in a blog comment.
This prompted the 'official' announcement which of course led to frustration for those users who had not yet been 'enabled'. It was necessary to proceed with caution: enabling 100 users first then watching server load for a while, followed by 1000 users and so on. As of tonight roughly 40,000 users have had multiple calendar support enabled and we expect to enable the remainder tomorrow, assuming no server overload issues show up.

45 comments:

IanJ said...

Thanks for the update. Can't wait for the new features but as an 'old' user I appreciate the effort to keep the service quality as high as it is. Couldn't imagine my phone without it.

skyJedi said...

Thnaks for the update on the great service. Can't wait for multi calendars

Michael said...

To use a cliche, you guys rock. I have two questions:

1. Is it possible to change the color on the calendars on an iPhone? I know this isn't really a question for your service (or I assume it isn't) but thought you might know.

2. Do you support Google Calendar invitations the way that the iPhone expects to get Exchange invitations so they show up in the invite try? If not, are you considering that?

Seriously, you guys are awesome. Great service!

--
Michael

David Boreham said...

Michael: the short answer is that we don't have control over the colors.
We expect invitations to work once we have e-mail sync support. The iPhone seems to want invites to be processed via the 'sync' e-mail. Windows Mobile will happily process invites via IMAP while the calendar syncs, but the iPhone won't. Of course it's possible that Apple will change this in a future update.

1214731494s21583 said...

Great update! It definitely took me by surprise at first, but now that I realize it isn't my iPhone going haywire but an intentional new feature I am over the moon... this is the only thing I was missing when I chose to use NuevaSync!

I'll second the request for a way to change colors. It's a little tricky for me to identify which calendar is which.

Dave said...

See that's why you guys are great!

Any other service like this would have just said: "It's free, we'll get to it when we get to it, if you don't like it, get lost." Instead, you guys keep us in the loop even though you're providing this service for free.

Would that paid services take a note from you guys.

hang said...

Really appreciate much your effort!
Meanwhile as an "old" user I'll just wait patiently.

I just noted that one of my chinese character calendar was being shown as "??" in the setting page. And even i changed its name to english the "??" was not changed accordingly. Is there anything i can/have to do?

sanlaser said...

Thanks for the great update.It seems that the service supports 2 bytes character(like Japanese)so much confortable to use it.One thing expect to update is adjust colors between google calendars and iPhone calendars

Guy Rosen said...

Good stuff! I have a foreign-language Calendar, with a foreign name. On the NuevaSync website it shows up as a series of question marks.

That said, the calendar itself seems to sync perfectly to my iPhone, so all is well.

Guy Rosen said...

I managed to use this to work around the color issue: initially sync with just one or two calendars and then add the rest one by one so that each one is assigned to the right color.

The only catch was that the iPhone's first calendar color is orange, which I don't use, and NuevaSync doesn't let me uncheck my default calendar. So, I used a separate Google Account, shared all my usual calendars with it and connected NuevaSync to that. The idea is that that new calendar was assigned to orange, but it's empty anyway.

mr71mb0 said...

Thanks for the update and I completely support your roll-out policy (hope you didn't cop too much flack from impatient users ;-) )

A Quick question if I may?

My biggest frustration with using Google contacts and syncing to the iphone is that Google's contacts fields don't seem to match up to the iPhone's. Specifically the address field.

I'm in the UK and if you sync the iphone contact to gmail contact it mess about with the field and you end up with the whole address in one line.

This means that when it syncs up again and you view the contact it's wrong. If you now touch on the address to open in google maps, it defaults to thinking you are in the US and can't find the contact. Very frustrating.

I know this is probably not your doing, more an issue with how google handles it's contacts (Exchange syncs address fields perfectly).

Is there anything you can suggest or anyway your sync can reformat these for the iphone properly?

(Not a quick question in the end I know.)

Thanks for the great work, very much appreciated.

Nando said...

Guys, thank you very much! The service you provide is really top-of-the-line. Multi-calendars work great! Only minor thing (suggestion) would be to sync the the same colours as the GCal for each calendar on the iPhone.
Thanks again for your much appreciated work!

mr71mb0 said...

the iphone decides the colours and are not selectable. you'll have to do the reverse, let it sync then set google to same colours.

Andree said...

You offer a great Service.
And if you could connect the Calendar-Sync Service to a caldav Server this would be the best sync Service ever.

Matt Dyson said...

Thanks for the clarification on this, can now see why the rollout was done as it was!

Waiting patiently (ish!) for my account to be changed over :-)

Once again, thanks for the amazing service!

unknowng said...

Has anyone else lost their calendar? Mine was syncing fine, then I opened my calendar and all my appointments disappeared. I'm not freaking out (yet), but wanted to know if anyone else was having this?

Steve said...

HELP!!! I show multiple calendars on the list, there are entries in GOOGLE for them, they are all the same color (not a big deal), BUT -- there are NO entries in the calendar screen on the iPHone. I have switched calendar in settings to OFF and then ON. Nothing.

Advice?

unknowng said...

I think their servers are getting hammered. Some of my calendar entries just came back (though not all)

Steve said...

If it's just that, it is MY PLEASURE to wait!

THIS SERVICE REALLY ROCKS....
Willing to pay for it, by the way, once it goes 1.0

unknowng said...

Yeah all my calendar entries just popped back.

John Richards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drew Crawford said...

Looks like your servers are getting hammered. All my events just vanished on my phone :-(

Lt. Marx said...

Even my contacts dissapeared, my calendar items are fine, no multiple calendar support though....

timo said...

My account was updated today and I was pleasantly surprised. I had read that you were planning on adding multiple calendar support and was greatly anticipating it. Thank you very much for a great service that I rely on daily.

N said...

The update is awesome. I've seen so many poor sync implementations that I am really impressed with this. If you are able to work out the coloring scheme then this will be top notch.

mbw said...

Thank you for adding color! The only thing that could make it better would be an easy way for the colors to match what I created in Google Calendar.

Edward said...

I've lost all my contacts, and little red dots are showing up next to all my calendar events regardless of what calendar they're on. I really need my contacts back...

Walter said...

Im afraid it looks like your servers are getting hammered, all my contacts have disappeared too, I quickly backed up my google contacts to CSV format just in case.

In my attempts to resync my calendar has gone too. I look forward to your server reboot!

Steve said...

I lost all my contacts too..... i hope this issues get solved fast.

KipiK said...

Same thing here.
My iPhone's sync'ed Calendar and Contacts vanished.
Google contacts exported for safety.

Looking forward to getting back a normal operation.
Good luck guys

mike said...

My contacts are gone too. Calendar seems to still be OK.

mike said...

5 minutes later, contacts are back. Phew.

JR said...

I lost my contacts and calendar today (and associated things like names instead of numbers in iPhone text, etc.). It's frustrating. Loved nuevasync till this. What's the plan? Can't go long like this. Would rather not have color calendars (though it is a great advancement) and have a working system.

John Richards said...

I alternately lost my calendar and contacts so I just left my phone alone for awhile. Came back and everything resynced and is responding quickly. Also, the website is responding a lot quicker too.

Walter said...

this to me seems like quite a big flaw with the way the iphone handles exchange accounts. Surely it should hold a backup of the contacts and calendar on the iphone for situations like this.
If i was a high powered business person (which im not) I could have lost a few clients by now

Spencer E Holtaway said...

I've had patchy calendar syncs too, guessing it's server load.

- First I had nothing
- Then everything (including read-only calendars) popped up, but with only one colour
- Then it all disappeared
- Then I got just my standard calendar (pre-update style)
-Now I turned on another calendar and everything disappeared again.

I'm going to do what John Richards did and leave it alone until tomorrow. Fingers crossed it'll be working normally with colours, bells and whistles, etc in the morning!

Looking forward to full service being resumed and all the good stuff that comes with it.

Thanks again for a great free service.

Spencer E Holtaway said...

And now I have all calendars but no colours, so there you go, the servers fighting itself or something!

(http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=rsnNUn4QUW8 see 2 minutes in for what I have pictured in my head)


- I can now also make changes on the iPhone without everything disappearing. Getting close!

Walter said...

Ive had patchy results too, 100 contacts synced (out of 240) then back to nothing

Im hoping when I get home and put it on my wifi connection it will resolve itself

Edge probably doesnt cut it when syncing an entire address book

Alex said...

All five of my calendars show up in yellow, and one of them isn't loading at all. I'll let it sit for a little longer to see if it resolves itself, but it's already been about an hour at this point. Any ideas?

Ryan said...

Sorry. That was me that leaked the Multiple Calendars info. I was just excited. :| You guys are really good to us. Thanks for all your work.

foxywfu said...

I can see multiple calendars (both mine and read-only) but they are all the standard iPhone gray/blue color. Should I have received the color phase-in supposed when I received the multiple calendar support?

Thanks for everything! This is a great service!

Nando said...

Hi guys.
I just noticed that the default alerts of the calendars don't work (i.e., no alerts are considered) if the event is created on the iPhone.
Certainly is also a problem of the native calendar on the iPhone since the alerts are only for the handset... but do you reckon it's possible to maintain the default alerts (sms, emails, etc., whatever was set up by the user)???

Thanks for all your work!

zerpy69 said...

So when is the colored calendars going to be enabled for everyone? I still do not have color calendars, but then again everything disappeared from my phone this morning - calendars and contacts so maybe it's a moot point. But it would be nice if I was finally let out of my corner and allowed to have what it seems everyone else has. That is, once the service starts working at all.

I mean, you advertise the feature on the main page and give it to new users. Yet those of us that have been around for a while still don't get it and we still are subject to the service outage that's evidently caused by the new feature.

Geert said...

I have had my NuevaSync account since August 2008, has anyone in that range had their multi-coulor activated yet?

Pablo said...

have colored calendars now and calendar sync is working. I'm happy. There were a few glitches that others should be aware of:

1. When colors got turned on, some (all?) of the events from calendars other than my main one showed up twice: once with the correct calendar color, and once with my main calendar color. If this happens to you, do not delete the duplicate event. Instead, reset: on the phone/iPod, go to Settings|Mail,Contacts,Calendar, select Nuevasync from the accounts list, turn off Calendars, wait, and turn them back on again. If you can wait to do this until it is night time in the US, I'm guessing you will put less stress on the servers. Note that this will assign all new colors to your calendars. It is not necessary to delete the nuevasync account and recreate it.

2. My default calendar changed. Fix: on the phone/iPod, go to Settings|Mail,Contacts,Calendar, scroll down to Calendars, and choose your default calendar.

3. An inactive calendar that I never use showed up (and used a color slot) on my iPod. Fix: on the Nuevasync status page, click setup next to the calendar status and choose only those calendars you want to sync. BTW, in this process I discovered that Nuevasync has implemented one-way syncing for my read-only calendars since the last time I checked. Way to go!

Great service and thanks for the upgrade!