I've been accused of being a Google fanboi once or twice. I might even deserve the term, although I like to think that my Google fan status is the result of some great experiences with their Apps products, especially in my professional life. Their products are free to consumers, small business willing to accept some limitations, and to schools, where the features are rich and highly usable.
And yet (there's always an "and yet", isn't there?), even for free, major glitches occasionally remind us that we get what we pay for. I'll still advocate for Google and their Apps products till the cows come home. I've delivered a lot of functionality to my users for free that I couldn't have touched without Google. But the lack of transparency when things go wrong is a problem.
I'm specifically referring to a calendar feature allowing calendar aggregation and advanced embedding features that worked up until early last week and now mysteriously doesn't work for Apps customers. As described on the Google Apps support forum,
When I try to create a custom online calendar (via settings->sharing->share this calendar->Calendar details->Customize the color, size, and other options) I get the following error
You must be logged into Google Calendar to use this tool. Please visit http://www.google.com/calendar to log in, then refresh this page.
This still works for consumers who don't use Domain Apps, but for the rest of us who rely on this to share calendars among groups and the rest of the world, it's a significant pain. Following the link provided by Google's error page takes us directly to the standard consumer Gmail login and we can't login to our Apps accounts. In addition to embedding multiple calendars, options for sizing, appearance, and scrolling are all controlled via the Google "embedded calendar helper."
There is a workaround: you can share all of the calendars you want to embed (in aggregate or individually) with your personal Gmail account and generate the embed code that way where the helper application actually works. However, this is hokey at best, particularly since Google Apps is designed to keep people using centrally managed accounts and groupware for a given domain rather than relying on their personal accounts. It also requires that you allow all calendars for your domain to potentially be shared with people outside your domain which may be a floodgate that your organization doesn't want to open.
At this point, I'd be happy with a flag on the Google Apps Status Page or a "Hey, sorry, working on it" post on the support forums. However, all we get is an unexplained redirect.
I'd hate to see Apps lose traction through this sort of lack of transparency and feedback. We've leveraged Apps in great ways this year and have made significant changes in the way we do business because of it. But even the best of projects usually have a list of known or ongoing bugs and issues that users can consult.
Open up, Google. We're an understanding bunch. Just keep us informed.