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I am working on a web functionality that allows an user to request an appointment with another user. However, users may have not met nor known about each others schedule. Therefore, options must be flexible enough so that it is not too intrusive.

For example, A proposes to B that they can meet any time next week between 1 and 5 PM. C can propose to D that they can meet any time between now and next month.

How should I design an UI to fit such a diverse options? One way is to let them write their own text, but it might be too chaostic for data handling (search, sort etc.). What are common solutions for this problem?

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Yo mean like – user9099 Oct 18 '11 at 2:53
Thanks for pointing me to doodle. I think their UI flow looks good (select dates first, then within each date, select time available). The text mining is very cool. But the fact that they require two pages to set time is a bit too much IMHO. – AdamNYC Oct 18 '11 at 3:05

Most business users will be used to either Outlook or GMail calenders. Both of these display a visual representation of a calender (with options for month, week or day view) and then a drag-and-drop selection interface to designate time periods.

Given a pattern already exists you could replicate it and allow users to select multiple date ranges.

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If they have a Gmail Account.... May be, upon click, the site can open their Gmail calendar then the users could add an entry and schedule their appointments... hope this can open the door for more ideas.

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It would be too demanding for my users to share their Gmail, so it wouldn't work. – AdamNYC Oct 18 '11 at 2:41

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