Post upcoming events in your Slack groups!

Want a regular morning post like this in your slack channel?

Check out this GitHub repository for an easy PHP script to install on any machine. And if PHP isn’t your thing, this all works from an open API so code up a different language and let us know!

Let us know if you do use this – one of the downsides of embracing Open Data so enthusiastically is that it’s very hard to measure how many people are using our site, so it’s always nice to hear from folk!

Show events on your WordPress blog!

We now have a WordPress extension to let you show events on your blog. You can filter these down to be from several cities or groups only if you wish.

Step 1. Install the Plugin

Download the “OpenACalendar” plugin from the official WordPress site and uncompress it into your wp-content/plugins folder. Or you can install it directly from your WordPress admin panel by searching for “OpenACalendar”.

Step 2. Tell it where to import events from

Go to the “Settings” menu and select “OpenACalendar.”. Create a new pool with the name “Open Tech Calendar”.

Add a new source to that pool with the URL “opentechcalendar.co.uk”.  Here you can select the filters you want – curated list, area, group, country or venue. You can get these from the URL of the page on the site. For instance if you want to filter Edinburgh events only go to the Edinburgh page at http://opentechcalendar.co.uk/area/62-edinburgh and take “62” from the URL to put into the events filter.

You can add several sources to the same pool – so if you are a big fan of 3 different meetups, you can filter by 3 different groups and events from all 3 groups will be mixed together.

When you add a source, there is a button to fetch events from that source immediately. Do so – but in the future that will happen automatically (if your WordPress cron is setup correctly).

Before you go, note the ID of the pool – it’s probably 1.

Step 3. Add a widget to the side bar

Go to the “Appearance” menu and select “Widgets”. Drag a “OpenACalendar – Events” widget into your layout. Put in the Pool ID you just created.

Step 4. Add a Short Code to any pages to list events.

On a page, you can type in

[openacalendar_events poolid=1]

to list events. You can add several other attributes (listed here).

 That’s it!

Any features you want or comments, get in touch! Version 2.0.1 was released from an open night at Edinburgh Hacklab – guess how they list events on the sidebar of their site?

New Features Released

We are pleased to announce a whole bunch of new features! We are very pleased with this release, as many of the new features are improvements to the user interface and the common tasks people do on the site. We think the basic structure of the site is working fine and are now in the process of smoothing out the rough edges. Below are a selection of the changes:

Continue reading “New Features Released”

Major new version released!

A major new version of Open Tech Calendar has been released! Read on for what’s new.

One part of being Open is that we want people to submit any events they know about, and we have tried to make that easier.

Add from the calendar. Click on the plus sign on any future date to add a event there.

Click To Add Cal

Search for a group. When adding an event, you can search for a group on the page and add directly.

Search Groups

Type in any date and time and we’ll guess. For example “2nd dec 2013 7pm to 9pm”, “2nd wed dec between 19:30 and 22:00” (Note that’s the 2nd Wed in Dec, not Wed the 2nd) or “fri 7pm for 3 hours 30 mins”.

Another part of being open is encouraging people to use our data. We still do this, and we have added Atom feeds several days before events happen as well as Atom feeds as events are created. Click export to see the variety of feeds available. You can choose how many days before.

Other features include … Continue reading “Major new version released!”

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!

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!

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!