Is it possible to get data from your modern web apps and use it in your 30+ year old Amiga software?
My belief is: YES! (as long as it's not encrypted...)
Like many applications on the World Wide Web, Google Calendar has what's called an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows people to work with the app using the programming language of their choice. This API allows you to grab data, in this case from your online calendar, and work with it in a way that's more flexible and beyond what the Google developers were able to do. For example, if there's another online app (with its own API) from Hallmark that lets you send out cards for special occasions, you can create your own program to take the calendar data from Google and send it to Hallmark to automatically send out cards to friends and family and keep everything up to date.
Okay, great, so we can get data from our modern, always-online web applications to use elsewhere. Now what happens if we want to use the data in an old piece of software that doesn't have an API, doesn't have a way to import data from other sources, or doesn't even have the source code available to see how its data files are even put together? Well, we're gonna have to use some tools to pry open the mystery box that is that old software to see how everything works, so hopefully we can reproduce what it needs using some programming and make everything fit together. And the mystery box we are working with is Word Perfect Library from the Word Perfect Corporation, created in 1989.
With a hex editor, let's take a look at the data file that Word Perfect Library (WPL) generates. Weirdly enough, a LOT of it is empty space. From my understanding, at the top of a file is usually a header so that the operating system knows what kind of file it's dealing with. Then the rest of the file is usually structured in some predictable pattern so that it's easy for the programmer to use the data inside the application.
Each WPL data file is roughly the same for about 515 bytes and then it stores appointment, todo, and memo text data at the bottom of the file. By comparing multiple files and looking for what's changed, we can roughly determine what data gets stored at what location. From there we can use the Amiga WPL file as a template, only we'll replace the WPL generated data and fill in the data from our Google Calendar using the PHP programming language. But hey, why not go the other way and load up a Google Calendar with data from our WPL file once we know how everything works? We can (eventually) do that, too!
So this is where I've gotten to so far... I intend to create more WPL files to see where everything gets stored (and how dates are stored since there are many formats dates can be written in), and then I will read those files into a PHP program stored on my web server, add my own data into them, write them back out again, and see if WPL can read them without issue. Stay tuned for more!