GoToWebinar gets school in Lotus and iCalendar

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Strongback Consulting

I’ve been using GoToMeeting for a few months, and started using GoToWebinar for, you guessed it, some webinars for Strongback Consulting. Well, in the process of setting up my latest webinar, I’ve come across some institutional bigotry with the company. No, I’m not talking about black or white, catholic or protestant, muslim or jew or christian. I’m talking Microsoft vs. Lotus.

In the email notifications sections, where you specify how you would like to follow up with registrants, you have the option to send them an iCalendar invite. However, their corporate institutional bias, assumes you are using MS Outlook.  Now, being an employee of an IBM Business Partner, and a Lotus geek, I was irritated because I can’t change the link description!

So, I emailed their customer service department and complained. Here is the response I received:

Dear Kenny,
Thank you for contacting Global Customer Support and for using GoToWebinar

Your suggestion is certainly a valid and well thought recommendation for a product or service enhancement. We have taken the opportunity to record your feedback and thank you for contacting us.

Outlook uses a file type .ics for calendar appointments. When clicking “Add to Outlook claendar”, the .ics file is downloaded and opened into Outlook. though I have not worked directly with Lotus Notes much myself, my research shows that Lotus Notes uses a .nsf file type.

Have you tried using the same link to add the event to your Lotus Notes calendar successfully?

Not all users even have an e-mail service with a calendar. To avoid confusion, the link states what application the appointment is intended for.

Again, your feedback has been recorded and is appreciated.

If you have any additional questions or need further clarification regarding this matter, please feel free to reply directly to this email. For any other product inquiries or technical assistance, please visit us at our Support Centers listed at the bottom of this email. Our Support Centers include Self Help files and our Global Customer Support Contact Information.

Thank you again for your interest in GoToWebinar

I wrote them back to thank them for following up (something I did not expect, based on my rant), and tried to educate them on Lotus.

Thank you for responding to me. It is a bit embarrasing to show a client a link like this, especially in many cases, I’m trying to sell them Lotus Notes to replace Outlook and Exchange.

The attachment .ICS is an Internet standard format for calendar. It is not specific to Outlook. It is used to accept calendar invites from Internet senders. Lotus Notes has supported this format for the past several years, and works without issue. The extension you mentioned (.NSF) for Lotus Notes is the actual mail file, similar to how Outlook has a .PST or .OST to store its mail in.

I certainly hope they make the change, because there is not just Lotus Notes, but other email clients that support this format including Google Apps, Novell Groupwise, and some open source clients like Evolution. Heck, there is even Entourage which is Microsoft’s client for Mac.

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