hCalendar microformat support in the events calendar

In our continuous effort to support microformats, we are proud to announce expanded hCalendar support on the Wayne State University Events Calendar.

If you are not familiar with microformats the goal is to use plain HTML and embed through classes and Semantic HTML information about the content. Similar to XML to describe content but in plain of HTML so an additional document is not necessary. Recently Yahoo released Search Monkey which takes advantage of microformats to mesh search results with the information on the result pages.

Support for hCalendar is on both the event listing page and the individual event pages. Below are some screen shots of the pages and what can be pulled from them.

As of right now we don’t have any plans to implement a Search Monkey app just yet but this is the first step for us or the community to pull from these events. Especially since the Academic Calendar is now in the events calendar.

This is just a small change to the calendar but it shows our contuned support and drive to support web standards and initiatives.

iCal makes its debut on the events calendar

We are proud to announce you can now subscribe to any calendar via iCal or save any individual event in iCal format. This will allow anyone to keep up with university events without having to check site every day. Just subscribe to a category of event you are interested in or a specific calendar.

Subscriptions

You can choose your calendar or subscribe to the main events calendar (really large list, you have been warned) by visiting the iCalendar page. Subsequently if you want to subscribe via RSS you can still do that at the RSS page.

Saving individual events

When viewing an event, below the contact information is this bar, with the last option on the bar a single ical file will be downloaded and can be imported into your favorite desktop calendar, Outlook 2007, iCal…

save-event.gif

Subscribing via Google Calendar

Google calendar is a popular web based calendar and the process to subscribe it straightforward and can translate to most web and desktop calendars.

Step 1:
Find the iCal feed you would like to subscribe to at the iCalendar page, right click on the feed link and select “Copy Link Location”

http://events.wayne.edu/ical/theatre/calendar.ics

Step 2:
Open Google Calendar and click the Add link on top of all your calendars. You will want to “Add by URL”, I have it highlighted below.

gcal-add.gif

Step 3:
Paste in the URL and click Add.

gcal-url.gif

New features coming to the university events calendar.

The university events calendar has been around since 2004. It has gone through three complete re-codings since its initial release and it about to go through another. Although thanks to PHPSimpl it won’t be too painful. We are revamping how an event is added, not only help the student looking for events but also to get a handle on upcoming events and their needs.

The goal is to gather as much information as possible without being a burden on the user. Right now the required fields are minimal, we just wanted people to use the system and we would worry about the details later. It has worked, year after year events submissions have grown exponentially.

Creating a central events calendar is key to event promotion. We recently added the upcoming event list to the students Pipeline, the site they go to for all student services. Further expanding the reach of the events.

A new feature starts with an idea, the idea that we need to gather more information without being invasive and still adding value. Below is the initial sketch I made of the new work flow. All new ideas start out as a sketch on paper or the whiteboard.

Workflow in Progress: Adding an Event

From here it goes for review, we sit on the idea for a little bit to let it sink in and make any modifications. Then propose it to the approval committee and once approved we start on a plan to integrate it into the current system.

With limited resources and the flexibility to work on the development server we first limit the new features to internal IP’s. This helps us test the functionality on the development and production servers without having to replicate the whole system in house. It also gives us a realistic idea of the load it is putting on the server.

Large features usually have a pilot department and we work out all the bugs before releasing to general population but features like this we will use internally for a week or two until we feel they are production ready. Using the features on a daily basis is the best way we have found to get the bugs and annoyances out.

This feature is still in the approval process but as it evolves we will post more info about it. New features are always exciting, I am glad we have a place to talk about our design process and upcoming features. If there is anything you would like to see or have us talk about just drop us a line.