We are excited to announce our new product enhancement for EventEssentials Pro users, Calendar Integration (iCal & RSS) for a December 7th release. Easily share your FSDirect calendar event data with applications that support iCal and/or RSS capabilities. This enhancement allows access to live event feeds from within your FSD calendar data by subscribing to a RSS or iCal “feed”.
Let’s review common questions and scenarios you have around the why’s, what’s and how’s…
What is this enhancement solving?
Visibility and flexibility. Everyone uses multiple calendar solutions to know when and where an event is happening. These systems do not solve the operational challenges FSDirect focuses upon, yet you need the flexibility to let people view events, and perhaps more, in their preferred calendar application. You may even need data to feed into webpages, digital display solutions or other options.
How is it different?
Many calendar systems simply look at the title, day, date and notes. FSDirect also looks at the organization, services needed, contact person and more. The calendar’s event details becomes more comprehensive than a simple “where and when?”
Some calendar systems simply push an event to a calendar, but what if something changes? As we are using a “feed”, if the event moves or is cancelled, the system linking to the data sees those changes.
Also, no one may want to see everything. Maybe someone simply needs to know what is happening in certain areas or area types. Does someone just want to see the schedule for a very specific athletic area and nothing else? No problem!
How do I use this feature?
From the FSDirect calendar, simply filter what you want someone to see, even down to specific Rooms. Icons will be available to provide a web address in either RSS or iCal formats. For the technical details, visit our Help Guide
What is iCal?
iCal is an industry-standard for exchanging calendar data. For FSDirect’s event calendar, this format that can be used for sharing events to external calendar applications. iCal has potential for calendar merging, calendar formats and the ability to add events automatically to applications such as Outlook and Google calendar.
- Simply copy the iCal feed’s web address and paste into any application accepting iCal
- Events will be visible in external calendar applications as a read-only format
PS, check out our tips and tricks about Outlook Calendar
What is RSS?
RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for easily publishing or viewing frequently-changing data. Users will need their own RSS News Aggregator or RSS feed reader. RSS feeds from FSDirect allows users to quickly access most recent event content. Users will then be able to do the following:
- Copy and paste the RSS web address into any web browser, RSS News Aggregator, RSS Feed Reader, email applications or digital signage system that accept RSS URLs
- Events will transfer over to external calendar applications in read-only format
To see RSS in action, check out How Can I Use RSS Feeds for Events in Webpages and Other Projects?
What can I control?
- What categories (e.g., certain Rooms) will be in the data feed
- Within the Account Settings section, FSDirect Administrators will have the ability to set options at the account level to enable or disable features in the data feed
For the technical details, visit our Help Guide
What will the results look like?
Typically, this will be an additional calendar in Outlook and Google. Users of those calendar systems often have options to hide or show individual calendars and some systems allow users to “overlay” multiple calendars into singular views.
Here are the same data feeds from iCal in Google and Outlook Calendars:
An event’s details originating from FSDirect would be read-only and similar to this:
Time zones are reflected by the user’s calendar system’s settings. If you are on Central, but the calendar viewer is on Eastern, they see Eastern for the event time in their calendar view. Note: Setup/Breakdown Time will be in the calendar event’s notes and not reflecting time zone differences.
What About Cancellations?
Change happens and you want to keep updates streamlined. That is what is great about feeds.
If the event is cancelled in FSDirect, an update appears on the user’s calendar or RSS feed by changing the title:
How Do I Provide a Link to Someone?
- Copy and paste an address for iCal or RSS in an email.
- FSDirect has a Documents area that allows web addresses and the option to make them visible in CommunityUse. Post iCal or RSS links there for people to be able to access feeds (be sure to name and add a descripton:
- Also, work with your IT Department to see what ideas they may have for publishing or distribution as they will have an understanding of administrative options for the variety of systems your organization uses.
By allowing feeds and control of feed options, this opens doors to many more possibilities vs. a direct integration with Outlook or other calendaring system. As a user of various software systems’ “calendar integrations” option, I have seen many issues arise with controls (which calendar is the master?), data integrity, versioning, backend changes, etc. In nearly every case, I would finally uninstall direct calendar control integrations in frustration and hope for the best that my calendars remained intact (that was rare). Feeds are much easier to add and remove, do not interfere with my primary calendar data, can easily be hidden or viewed at my discretion, and can be used for many more projects.