When you announce an event in email or put in on your web site, instead of just showing text describing the event, make it easy for your audience to save the date. With the prevalence of on-line and PDA and cell phone calendars, you can get your event on their calendar easily.
Providing the event information yourself instead of depending on your audience to copy ensures accuracy (i.e. no transcription or transposition errors) and complete: you can include the street address, contact phone number and email, directions, links to on-line maps, prerequisites, and preparation suggestions (e.g. “Bring a jacket because it gets cold in the evening”)
I’ll be talking about three different ways to communicate event information:
- Load it on their Yahoo or Google Calendar using a link
- Distribute it as an iCalendarFile
- Share your public calendar
Load It on Their Yahoo or Google Calendar Using a Link
Both Yahoo and Google have a format for describing a calendar event as a URL. If you supply these as links on your web page or HTML email, users can click them and immediately add the event to their own calendars.
Yahoo Calendar Links
The Yahoo Calendar link is at the bottom of each Yahoo Calendar page as text. Note that the link represents the event as it was when the page appeared; it does not dynamically reflect any changed you make, so save any changes and then copy the link.
Google Calendar Links
The details page for a Google Calendar event has a link in the lower right corner: “Publish this event”. It will pop-up a dialog with the address selected for easy copying.
Distribute It as an iCalendar File
As with most computer things, calendar items have a standard format so every system can understand the data. The iCalendar format replaces an older format named vCalendar. You can send this file as an email attachment or as a downloadable file on your web site (example below)
Almost all calendar applications (like Outlook/Exchange, Backpack, Notes, Sunbird) will import “iCal” files (some will export as well). Some operating systems associate the .ical and .ics file extensions with the calendar program so that program automatically imports the calendar file whenever the file is “executed”.
Share Your Calendar
Both Yahoo and Google allow you to create an on-line calendar and publish it so users of those systems can merge it (subscribe) with their own calendars. Your subscribers will see events as soon as you add them with no action on their part. They will also see them in relation to their own scheduled calendar events, so they can plan and anticipate.
Here is a Yahoo Calendar that subscribes to several other calendars. All the subscribed calendars show up as items in the right-hand column.
Subscribing to a Yahoo Calendar
Instruct your users to go to their Yahoo Calendar and select the “Edit” link My Time Lines in the upper right corner of the top date display (not the top right corner of the screen)
They can select any of their group’s calendar or a friend’s calendar:
Here is a Google Calendar that subscribes to another calendar. The events are color-coded to show which calendar they come from. In this case, pink is “my” events; red is for Sign Language Club De Anza calendar’s events.
Note that subscribing to someone else’s calendar does not expose your calendar
Sharing/Publishing Your Yahoo Calendar
Insure that the calendar you are going to share is completely public (do not share your personal calendar just because it has some public events on it). If you manage a Yahoo group, you can publish that group’s calendar. You can also create a separate Yahoo account to publish.
Pick a calendar and set its publication in the Calendar | Setting | Calendar page:
Subscribing to a Google Calendar
Tell your subscribers to choose the Other calendars | Add link on the left panel. They can select a friend’s calendar or enter the calendar’s address.
You can find the address of your calendar at Settings | Calendar Details (scroll down) Calendar Address
Sharing/Publishing Your Google Calendar
Google Calendar allows you to create many calendars and publish them individually.
Specify your calendar’s publication in the Calendar | Setting (top left corner)| Calendars | Share this calendar
You can make the calendar either public or available to specific Google Calendar users.
Example of a Yahoo Calendar URL – wrapped to multiple lines for ease of reading
Example of a Google Calendar URL – wrapped to multiple lines for ease of reading
Example of an iCalendar file (from Wikipedia)
Here is a simple example of an iCalendar object, “Bastille Day Party” event which occurs July 14, 1997 17:00 (UTC) through July 15, 1997 03:59:59 (UTC):
BEGIN:VCALENDARVERSION:2.0PRODID:-//hacksw/handcal//NONSGML v1.0//ENBEGIN:VEVENTDTSTART:19970714T170000ZDTEND:19970715T035959ZSUMMARY:Bastille Day PartyEND:VEVENTEND:VCALENDAR
See also toomanydaves…words by davelms