Thursday, February 07, 2008

Google calendar @ lunch

Today's late lunchtime rant (I spent most of my lunch getting Valentine's day goodies for my student workers and am now multitasking) is brought to you by Google calendar and it's calendar building tool - repeats. When adding an "event," you can choose from a variety of repeat options such as "does not repeat, daily, every week, every weekday, every Mon., Wed, and Fri, every Tues, and Thursday, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Additionally, you can pre-set the repeats to go on infinitely or during specific time periods. When entering big chunks of repetitious library hours notifications repeats saved me a great deal of time. I was enthralled, until the time came to create a widget for the library web page, then - not so much.

First, a review from yesterday afternoon: I do not particularly care for the calendar widgets provided by Google. It's a free service, so I understand the need to brand things with their logo (fair's fair), however the resulting widgets are clunky in appearance and detract from the streamlined page. I determined it would be best to use the calendar feed and a different resource to create a widget. Google makes this easy as well by providing two options for retrieving permanent URL's and feeds for your public calendar. Thank you. I grabbed the address, plugged it into Fee2JS, followed the simple steps enter, adjust, and preview my feed via the javascript they generated. The service worked fine. The feed generated had the information required, along with residual text detailing each date was a continuing event; the repeats had struck.

I adjusted, tweaked, added, subtracted, and generally fiddled with the CSS to make this work. My results were less than spectacular. Googling the question I found an interesting blog post from Duct Tape A Google Calendar List of Events Feed on Your Web Site:

If you’ve ever wanted to easily publish a schedule of upcoming event, deadlines or even birthdays as a dynamic list rather than a calendar style page here’s an RSS trick for you to use. (This can be done on a public or private page)
  • Create a free Google Calendar account and slug in all the dates on the calendar (Any shareable calendar will do)
  • Google automatically creates an RSS feed for your calender - take this URL and create free Feedburner account
  • Optimize the feed using the Event Feed option from Feedburner
  • Publish the feed using Feedburner’s BuzzBoost option - lots of options for display
  • Paste the code Feedburner produces for you on the page you would like your list to show - 3/17/07

Why didn't I think of that? I have a google calendar, I have a feedburner account, I have the technologoy (sorry). This morning, armed with new tools and purpose, I started the process again. I'll go on record saying this idea does work. I was able to create the Buzz Boost widget after burning the calendar feed. And, since Google bought Feedburner last summer, there were even more options in Feedburner concerning how to utilize their service with Google. Heck, Google even has cheats for customizing your code in the Feedburner Help Center. I used the generated feed with Buzz Boost and the Headline Animator. They all worked as advertised. It was great! At least it was great until the repeat information was more prevalent in the widget than the library hours. So, I tweaked and adjusted some more to get a few usable results. Not to be deterred from the actual goal, a widget to display daily library hours in an uncluttered format, I am still considering my options.

Next? I am going to experiment with adding individual daily events to a month's worth of time on a new calendar and will try again. I also found an interesting web site called RSSCalendar ...

Right now? I need to fill Valentine's day treat bags.

No comments: