Wiki Calendars for all!

Now Open Tech Calendar is one year old it’s time to look at what we’ve achieved. We basically have a Wiki calendar engine, where a group of people can come together to collect and share information on events for the benefit of all.

We are now exploring if this could be of benefit to other groups. Maybe Edinburgh Cyclists would like a common place to come together and share knowledge, for instance? Or Glasgow Knitters?

If your part of a group that would be interested in talking about this, please get in touch. We’d love to chat about what you’d like from such a platform and give you the opportunity to be one of the first to try it out.

We are going to be 1 year old soon!

On the 24th of July we will be one year old – check out our old launch announcement here!

We wanted to ask: what do you want us to do for our Birthday? Any special feature you want us to work on, or thing we should do? Comment below, get in touch or add it to our issue tracker.

And thanks for all your support, and thanks to Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems for the sponsorship. Here’s looking forwards to another year!

New feature: Display Board

If you work in an office and have a screen up showing vital stats to your staff, why not also have one showing the upcoming events in the local area to?

displayboard

You can configure each one differently – this one shows events in Edinburgh in normal colours, and events in Scotland in gray. You can also configure the number of days that appear in the middle box.

If you want to try it, get in touch and ask nicely!

New Feature (Curated Lists) is launched with start of new design

This morning we launched the start of work on our new design. There’s lots of details still to be sorted and lots of work we want to do that will improve the UX workflow but this is a first step, and we wanted to get it out there. This is a project that has always benefited from feedback and ideas from the community, and we are grateful for the advice we have already received – more is welcome!

Welcome to a redesign

We also launched a new feature that several people have been talking about recently: Curated Lists. These are lists that a user can create then pick and choose events from the site to add. They can build up a personal list of events on the same topic, in the same area or events they endorse.

You can then get a feed or a widget for your website that lets you display only entries from your curated list.

At the moment all lists are public. If lots of people ask we may think about private lists later but so far no-one has come up with a good use for them.

At the moment only the list owner can add events. In the future owners will be able to specify other user who can add events (UPDATE: now done), or specify that the list is open for all users to add events to.

We will also look at letting you add groups to your list to.

But that’s a lot of talk about features – wouldn’t it be great if there was an easier way to discuss all this?

In fact, something else we are starting is an open issue tracker on GitHub – this will hopefully make it even easier for the community to suggest ideas and feedback on what they want to see. Get stuck in and post suggestions there!

So again, all feeback is welcome by email or via our issue tracker or in person at an event – talk soon!

More personalised services for attendees

Today we launch another tool to help event attendees stay organised – a personalised email on the morning of events they are interested in.

In your user profile you can change what triggers this email:

  • Turn the email off completely.
  • Choose to only be emailed when an event is on today you’ve said you would go to.
  • Choose to only be emailed when an event is on today you’ve said you would or may go to (the default).
  • Choose to only be emailed when an event is on today you’ve said you would or may go to, or is on in a group you follow.

todayEmail

Feedback welcome as always!

Making our event data as useful as possible!

As we build up a collection of great event data, we want to make sure it’s as useful as possible to all. So today we unveiled a help section about our API’s listing the ICAL, ATOM, JSON and JSONP end points on the site.

We are already working on a Javascript widget that can be dropped onto your site easily so you don’t have to be a programmer to take advantage of this – news to come.

There’s lots of other work going on, but a lot of it is behind the scenes. You’ll see a lot of cool stuff coming soon tho!

Import events from iCal, Meetup, Eventbrite and Lanyrd

To make it as easy as possible for people to add events, we’ve added importers so data from any iCal feed like Google Calendar or sites like Meetup, Eventbrite and Lanyrd can be pulled in easily.

We’ve actually been running this for over a month and importing all the events for WordPress Scotland; but we wanted to make sure it’s right. There were a number of bugs in the iCal parser library we used and in the end, we wrote our own from scratch.

We also care deeply about the quality of the data. We don’t want an importer to run for ever, adding an event that has long since stopped. So every couple of months, we temporarily disable each importer and send an email to those who watch the group asking if it’s still valid. It’s easy to re-enable if it is.

To use it, simply go to a group and click the new “importers” tab. You can add a new importer or see the existing ones.

You can see the results of running the importer to.

Any feedback welcome; talk soon!

Thanks to Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems!

Thanks to Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems for coming on board as our first sponsor! Many of the TMVS staff from their north Edinburgh office are regulars at meetups around Edinburgh, and it’s really great to see them support this community tool.

TMVS develops diagnosis and treatment software for viewing and working with medical image data. Their work covers a wide variety of areas including application development (both desktop and web), graphics rendering technology, image analysis techniques and investigations into new techniques for diagnosis. You can find their work integrated into a wide number of products including Toshiba CT, MRI and Ultrasound scanners. In addition to the jobs advertised on their website, they also welcome applications for internships both for engineers and clinical specialists.

We’ll use the investment to pick up some goodies like a SSL certificate for the site to ensure account holders details are protected, but mainly it’s great to secure the time investment the project needs to smooth off the rough edges and really get stuck in.

There’s been some great interest in the site recently, and we look forwards to posting more news and attending some great events soon.

We’re also building a list of tech groups

One of the side effects of building a calendar of tech events is that we’re also building up a pretty good list of active tech groups, and it’s time we started making that more useful.

The first step is to separate groups by location. Now when looking at a place you can also view a list of all the groups there. For instance, here’s the lists for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. We’ll add more filtering of this list later (free search, those who held events in the last six months only, etc).

Groups are currently marked as being in a location when they hold an event there, but in the future people will be able to add or remove locations to groups freely. For instance some conferences move around. After they have held an event in one city they may not return for years and in that case you may want to remove the city manually.

As with all features, we’ll be monitoring how this is used and feedback is welcome!

New features! Personal calendars for all and more

Some previously mentioned features are now live such as weekly and monthly recurring events, and iCal import is in testing on the live site. But a whole set of other features that have never been mentioned on this blog are now live, and I wanted to guide you through them.

Your own personal and private calendar

Any logged in user can now say they will attend or may attend an event.

This will appear on their own custom calendar and a iCal feed is available.

This is the ultimate in filtered feeds; now you can have a filtered feed of only the events you are interested in!

Your public calendar

Your plans for attendance are private by default, but you can choose to make them public. In this case, your upcoming events are available on your user profile and as a iCal feed for others. Here’s my public Calendar:

I just want to say I’m going to be very careful about how the public features play out. I’ve used my own experience as a event organiser to think carefully about how a good calendar site should work and I don’t want to mess it up.

If it turns out people want to use the personal private calendars but no-one wants to use the public calendars, that’s fine and I won’t complain. But all that’s a topic for a future blog post, or a rant down the pub tonight.

Watch a group

You can choose to “watch” a group. This will do several things:

Any events from the group will appear on your private calendar and private iCal feed.

So your own personal filtered feed can now have events from groups you are interested in appear automatically. (By the way, I’m really annoyed I’m going to miss State Of The Map due to family commitments – it sounds great!)

You’ll get an email any time someone else changes the group or an event in it.

If there are no future events in the group, you’ll get an email promoting you to add more. (I launched this yesterday morning and already have two thank yous – glad you like it!)

What’s next?

I’ll be at TechMeetup Edinburgh tonight (in case you haven’t picked that up from all the screenshots!) so any comments or feedback can be delivered in person, by email, by twitter or in the comments here.

I’ve started doing lots of sketches to plan a new UI/UX that will simplify the workflow and functionality, as at the moment its generally all over the place.

In terms of features, I’ll work on more importers and an optional reminder email about upcoming events on your personal calendar.

We are also looking for sponsors – we don’t have a Sponsor pack yet but get in touch and tell me what you want to know.

Talk to you soon!