This includes community groups, sports clubs, Macintosh User Groups, small businesses, large companies, families and individuals.
By publishing a calendar to the internet, you can share your event information with others and they can easily receive updates with minumial effort on your behalf – you basically make the changes in iCal and the changes can automatically be uploaded to a server and the the subscriber’s get the updated information next time they launch iCal.
To create your calendar you’ll need Apple’s iCal application, which is part of Mac OS X.
To publish the calendar, you’ll need a iCal hosting account. If you are a .Mac subscriber you can use your .Mac account, otherwise look at the free iCalXchange service.
Creating your Calendar and Events
The first step is to create a new calendar in iCal by selecting “New Calendar” from the File menu. You’ll then be prompted to enter a name for your new calendar. Be sure to give it something descriptive so that people who subscribe to multiple calendars can easily identify your calendar – ie don’t just call it “Presentations”, rather call it “Nicholas Pyers Presentations”.
Also, because of a couple of compatibility reasons, ensure your calendar name does NOT contain spaces – either remove all the spaces or do as I personally do and replace the spaces with hypens eg “Nicholas-Pyers-Presentations”.
Now that your calendar has been created, you can start entering your events and dates in to this calendar by choosing “New Event” from the File Menu.
You’ll now be presented with a information box where you can enter the Name of the event, where it is to be held, the date and time it will be held from and some other information if you like.
- New Event: The name of the acutal event (Required)
Location: Where the event is to occur (Optional)
All-day: Tick this box if the event is an “All-Day” event like a birthday or holiday. All Day events appear at the top of the calendar view. (Optional)
From: The date and time the event commences. (Required)
To: The date and time the event concludes. (Required)
Time Zone: By default this is set to your local time zone as defined in the Date & Time System Preference, but you may wish to change the time zone for events if you will be traveling to a different time zone and want to see your events shifted to the correct time for the new location. (Required)
Repeat: If you have regularly scheduled events say on the First Monday of each month or the 15th of each month, you can get iCal to automatically add an entry based on this criteria (Optional)
Attendees: You can send email invites to anyone in your Address Book by entering thier name or email address and selecting from the pop-up list that appears. If they accept the invite, then iCal will show this (Optional)
Calendar: This option tells iCal which calendar to include the event in. By default this set to the currently selected calendar but if you wish to move the event from say your “Work” calendar to you “Home” calendar you just select it here. (Required)
Alarm: You can iCal display a dialogue box, play a sound or email you a reminder that an event is coming up. (Optional)
URL: If you have a web page with more details, you can add the URL here. (Optional)
Notes: This is a free form text entry where you can put any other type of information you like. A tip: If your event has a URL, then also include it in the Notes field so Search Engines can find your event. (Optional)
Publish Your Calendar
Once you have entered your events in to your calendar, you are ready to publish it so others can then subscribe to it and view your events in thier own iCal.
To publish your calendar, simply select it and then from under the Calendar menu select “Publish…” which will bring up the “Publish Options” dialog box.
The “Publish Calendar as” field is used as basis for the filename and what will be displayed in subscribers iCals – Remember for compatibility reasons, remove any spaces (and I suggest replacing them with hyphens).
If you are using a .Mac account to publish your Calendar to, then iCal will use the .Mac address defined in your .Mac System Preference. If you are using a service like iCalx, then click on the “Publish on” pop-up menu and select “A Private Server” and you’ll be promoted for a Base URL, Login and Password (See the Publish Dialog image).
Regardless of which service you use to publish to, I recommend that you enable the “Publish Changes Automatically” so that any updates you do to your calendar are automatically published and if subscribers have enabled automatic updating then they’ll also get the latest version.
“Publish titles and notes” is enabled automatically and this makes sense as this is where all the information about your event will be displayed, but you may have reasons not to have this information published. If this is the case, than I strongly recommend you place this information in a separate calendar that is not published.
The “Publish Alarms” and “Publish To Do Lists” are optional, but be warned if you have an alarm set to email you a reminder, you will also get a email from every subscriber who have enabled alarms.
Once you have set your options, click on the “Publish” button and iCal will commence uploading the calendar to your server.
Once it has successfully uploaded, you get a confirmation dialog confirming it has been published an the URL where it can be found on the internet.
Promote Your Calendar
Once you have published your calendar, the next step will be to promote its’ existence and iCal provides a simple way to initially do this by sending an email.
On the “Calendar Published” dialog, click the “Send Mail” button and Apple Mail will open with a new message with a subject and some brief body text, ready for you address and send.
You may wish to provide a short description in the email about why you’ve published the calendar, what events it will include, how often it will be updated etc. Also a tip if you are sending the message to multiple people put YOUR address in the “TO” field and all the reciepents in the “BCC” field, which you may need to enable by selecting the “Show BBC field” option from the “View” menu in mail. This way you protect the privacy of your reciepent’s email addresses and reduce the chance of spam etc.
If you have your own website you may wish to promote your calendar there and provide options to both view the calendar online and to subscribe to it.
To view the calendar you can link to either the .Mac page, which would be in the form of “http://ical.mac.com/username/Calendar-Name” or if you are using iCalx it would be i the form of ” http://www.icalx.com/html/npyers/month.php?cal=Nicholas-Pyers-Presentations”.
I use “Month” view for my Presentations calendar as I only have a couple of entries a month and using one of the other views may mean that vistors don’t get to see what is coming up that month, but if you have a busier calendar, the “month.php” in the iCalx link could be be substituted with “day.php” or “week.php” to default to that view type.
When viewing the calendar in a web page, you can click on any calendar entry and it’ll show you some details about the event – basically the “New Event” field, the times and the notes.
It doesn’t list the other fields, although they are in the Calendar and can be seen if you subscribe to the Calendar using iCal. If you look at the Image “View Web Calendar Entry” you’ll also notice that any URLs are highlighted and will take you to that page (and search engines like Google should find those pages as well).
On your web page, you’ll also want to provide the option for people to subscribe to your calendar. Again, this can be achieved with a simple link. In the case of .Mac you would use “webcal://ical.mac.com/username/Calendar-Name.ics” and for iCalX you’d use ” webcal://icalx.com/public/npyers/Nicholas-Pyers-Presentations.ics”.
An imporant note: Notice the URL begins with “webcal://” NOT “http://”. This is most important because this command tells your web browser that the link is an iCal subscription. If you use “http” it will just download the file to your computer and won’t “subscribe” you to get future changes to calendar.
Depending on the nature of your calendar, you may also wish to list it iCalShare, a directory that lists thousands of calendars on a variety of topics. To learn more about iCalShare, you can check out the article I wrote on it at;
If you send out Press Releases or regular newsletters promoting your events, be sure to mention that you have a calendar that people can view and subscribe to freew of charge to view forthcoming events. This works for both “paper” and “electronic” messages.
Correcting or Removing the Calendar
If you wish to change some of the details in your calendar, you simply edit the appropriate entry in the calendar and if you told it to automatically update on change, that will happen. Otherwise, just tell iCal to “Refresh” from the “Calendar” menu and the changes will be uploaded.
If you decide you no longer wish to have your calendar published, you can simply choose the “Unpublish…” option under the “Calendar” menu in iCal and confirm that you wish to unpublish the calendar and it will be removed from the server preventing any further subscriptions, updates and viewings.
However, it is important to note that is NOT removed from subscribers computers – the last copy they downloaded wil remain on their system until they delete it themselves.
How to Subscribe to a Calendar
To subscribe to a published calendar you simply click on the subscribe link supplied by the publisher either in the email they sent or from their webpage, which will open iCal with “Subscribe To” dialog, confirming the URL of the calendar – Just click “Subscribe”.
You’ll then be presented with a “Subscribing to… Options Dialog”
Regardless of the calendar you subscribe to, you should normally enable the “Refresh” option to at least once a week, as most calendars will be updated with changes and corrections and this way you’ll always have current version.
Personally, I disable the option to Remove Alarms as most calendars don’t have alarms enabled and the few that do, it is usually a useful reminder. At present, To Do lists are something I don’t use (but perhaps need to 🙂 and so I do Remove To Do Items.
If the calendar you are subscribing to is hosted on a service like iCal Exchange that enables you to protect a calendar with a user name and password, then an “Advanced Options” will appear and if you click on the triangle next to it, fields will appear for you to enter this information.
A copy of this article, with colour images, is available from my website, http://www.nicholaspyers.com.
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