How to Become Über Organized Using Google Calendar and Drupal

Wed, 2008-05-14 01:32

This is a trick I have been trying to pull off for years. The technology has been almost there or perhaps even all the way there for some time. I worked on perfecting my setup quite a bit, but maybe I quit right when the breakthrough was about to happen. No matter, the method works now and I am much closer to knowing where I am supposed to be at any particular minute.

The components I use for my particular level of organization, namely Drupal and Google Calendar, are not the only tools that will do the job. Any application that puts out an .ics file can play. When I first started to attempt this, there was no Google Calendar. I tried it using the calendar found at the Mozilla website; it is a standalone app. If you frequently find yourself without Internet access and needing to check your calendar then Sunbird may be just what you want. Many other applications use the standard iCal format and should work well.

The first step in the journey is to create a website for every organization you are involved with. It is important to use software that outputs the iCal format for events. Drupal does this, if you prefer another system that works as well, then by all means go for it. Maybe you are truly lucky and all your favorite groups already have a website that formats events in the iCal format. If so, skip to the next step.

Now you need to decide where you want to have the master calendar. As I mentioned before there are programs that will run on your computer and you can have a calendar that way. Personally it is much easier for me to set the Google Calendar as my home page and just use that one. I don't have to run a separate program, and besides, I dig the sexy interface. I will assume that you do, too, and I won't mention any other master calendar from here out.

So, you have your source calendar and your website, which is the source of the events. Assuming you do in fact use Drupal, you will see a little calendar-looking icon near the events part. When you click that, you will be prompted to download an .ics file. What you really want to do here is to right click and copy the link location (copy shortcut for IE).

Go back to your GCal and click Manage calendars in the lower left. You will then see a new screen. Hit Add calendar.

This screen has suggestions that you may add to your calendar. Be sure to come back later and add anything that appeals to you. Right now what you want to do is click Add by URL right next to the search box at the top. The next screen asks for the Public Calendar Address: and this is where you add the link from your website. The link will look like http://leolastreetgarden.org/event/ical when taken from Drupal.

This is when the magic happens. If the leader of the organization is properly trained and suitably motivated, he will add the events to the website in a timely fashion. All you have to do is sit back and be updated.

If you are not so lucky, it is still well worth your while to track down the upcoming events and add them yourself. It is not difficult, after all.

You may want to add the holidays for your own particular area, and you can add even more calendars at iCalShare.

This could be the coolest feature of the Internet. Everyone understands it. It works. I like it.

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