Make Your Public Event Calendar Usable To All

If you run a sports club, this post is for you.
If you are on a community committee, this post is also for you
If you host events, this is for you.
If you put on shows, this is for you.

In fact, if you do anything that has a date/time component that you'd like to share with people, this is for you. Yep, probably for all of us.

Sharing calendars can be both:
  • an effective way of letting everyone know
  • a complete and utter technical pain in the bottomly region
If you've posted up an events page onto your website you know how difficult it is to keep up to date, how the readers have to keep coming back to get the latest changes and don't even think about integrating with somebody else's "events page".

Ok, so we all know the problem.
What's the solution? iCalendar (normally shortened to iCal) ... yep, it's a geek word that you will come to know and love just as much as RSS. In fact, think of it as RSS for calendars. But that's enough geekery, if you want to know more pop over to Wikipedia: iCalendar

All we need to know is that iCal is the Web way of sharing calendars.
And with everyone being on the Web why not make your sporting club calendar available on the Web? "Because it sounds hard Mike, that's why!"

Allow Google Calendar to be your friend.
Google Calendar is not just a calendaring system for you, the singular, even though it does that very well. It also allows you to:
  • Set-up group calendars
  • Share and collaborate on calendars
  • Publish them on the Web
And it's the last bit I want to draw your attention to today.
Publishing your calendar on the Web means that anyone can "subscribe" to your calendar and all updates you make are instantly reflected in their calendar client. And it's not just about dates and times but also locations, maps, details and even links to web pages.

Take a look at this example from the publicly available Wellingtonista Event Calendar (iCal)

Everything you need to know without ever having to do a thing.



Set-up a public Google Calendar
  1. Get yourself a Google Account
  2. Go to your Google Calendar (http://calendar.google.com)
  3. Click the 'Manage calendars' link - bottom left of the current calendar list (which might only be one, yours)
  4. At the bottom of the "My calendars" list click the the 'Create new calendar' button
  5. Fill in the new calendar details including:
    • A clear name (I include a location that the calendar covers such as "Wellington, New Zealand")
    • Verbose and clear description
    • Who, if anyone, you'd like to be able to update the calendar
  6. Ensure the "Make this calendar public" is ticked

    Note: you can change this later or for specific events
  7. Push the "Create Calendar" button
  8. Start adding your events



Share your newly created public calendar
Google will index your calendar within 24 hours allowing it to be searched by everyone.

However there are many other ways to share your calendar and, because it uses the Web standard iCal, they don't have to use Google Calendar (but why wouldn't you!) as long as their calendaring system understands iCal you're sorted.
And for the uber geeks and/or IT Departments you can build calendars on your own website using Google Calendar Data API

One final goodie, notifications.
You can have events pop-up, email you or even send a txt to your mobile ... you never have to miss an event ever again!



Add a public calendar to your Google Calendar
  1. Go to your Google Calendar (http://calendar.google.com)
  2. Click the 'Manage calendars' link - bottom left of the current calendar list (which might only be one, yours)

  3. Click the 'Add calendar' button - bottom of the list of current "Other calendars"

  4. Make sure you're in the "Search Public Calendars" tab

  5. Search for your calendar (eg, wellingtonista) and push the 'Search' button

  6. There it is - click the 'Add Calendar' button




A sample of public calendars
Finally, the goodies we've all been waiting for, a sample list of publicly available calendars you can subscribe to right now by either doing a search inside your Google Calendar or by browsing the Google Calendar Directory. If you publish a public calendar for your events let me know and I'll tell the world for you.


New Zealand
978 calendars matched my search, here's a sample:

Australia
A total of 457 matched my calendar search with the following a mere taste:
UK
Too many to contemplate, you're gonna have to really be specific to the events you want :-)
The rest of the world
I went looking for the strangest calendars I could find and the three I present to you are:



More resources
There's LOTS about Google Calendar on the Web, here's some pre-loaded searches for you:

Comments

  1. They are the strangest three calendars you could find? I feel a competition coming on....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Couldn't agree more! It would be a real advance if those responsible for the source material published it. For example, none of the NZ Holiday Calendars on G-cal originate from a statutory authority and there are such authorities eg http://www.ers.dol.govt.nz/holidays_act_2003/dates/2006_9.html. How about an e-gif standard?
    David

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dave: I know, pathetic eh - post better!! :-)

    David: Yep, publish in iCal. But do it because it's easy and makes sense and not because some bureaucrat from SSC has written a 90 page Word document explaining why one should/could. What can you do to make this happen David?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent post Mike. I work for an agency and we've had a few requests recently for events tools, and every time I've looked at their requirements I come back to using Google Calendar which does everything they need and more. It's an incredibly cost effective solution compared to building a bespoke events tool, and allows seamless integration through its API.

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  5. Absolutely Anthony, so darned easy ... maybe you could show some others how to integrate with the API :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Mike. tx for the comment on the LIANZA blog - my reply comment wouldn't post there for some annoying reason... great post here, a reminder to me to get the programme up. I'll notify on the blog/website/Facebook as soon as it's done.
    (aka) kris

    ReplyDelete
  7. Cheers Kris - happy to promote it as well!

    ReplyDelete

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