When a client asked me for a replacement free/busy calendar for her website, I made the following list of what I found.
The calendar could be either an online service or an application installable on her server, but it did have to be:
- Embeddable in an existing public web page, and small (perhaps 225 x 170, called a minical by some projects). Despite its size it must clearly indicate free/busy days, perhaps by changing the background color of those days.
- Easily adaptable to the existing website’s appearance (CSS preferred).
- Easy to use.
- Well supported, either by the developers or by the user community.
If installable, it also had to be:
- Open source.
- Under active development, or at least not abandoned.
- Supported in her hosting environment (LAMP shared hosting, CGI, Perl).
Groupware would be overkill for this use; I limited my search to stand-alone calendars. The client only needs a simple free/busy indicator, per day. Additional features are fine but they shouldn’t make use any more complicated.
30 Boxes: Online service. Much better usability and more features than Google Calendar. No support forum. A Twitter account is used for service announcements. A full-sized calendar can be embedded in an existing web page (called a badge; example), but it’s unclear if it can be scaled down to minical size or if at that size free/busy information would be visible. Entries can be color coded, but the background color of days with events cannot.
Chronos: Inactive since 2002.
EventCal: Backend only that creates HTML calendars for use with Python web applications.
ExtCalendar: PHP. Popular and well rated at SourceForge. User reviews call it easy to install and use and attractive. Files contain “cal_mini.inc.php”. No documentation. Last code release 2005.
Google Calendar: Online service. Popular, but I don’t know why: it has poor usability and nearly useless support. Embeddable, but not working as expected and its layout does not lend itself to presenting useful data at minical size. Few presentation options; no way to change the background color of days with events, for example.
Meeting Room Booking System: LAMP application for booking meeting rooms or similar uses. Under active development. Well regarded. No web installer; installation instructions are clear enough for someone comfortable with MySQL and PHP. Good support via mailing list. “All day” reservation available, but features and views presume a typical booking is less than a day, so (for example) no minical available. Embeddable in an iframe. Demo available.
myPHPCalendar: Inactive since 2000.
Plans: Abandoned in 2010.
Prospector: Inactive since 2001.
VCalendar: Inactive since 2006.
WebCalendar: Under active development; popular; good documentation; user forum. Not particularly intuitive to set up and customize. Rejected by the client, finding it difficult to use.