Web-based calendars

When a client asked me for a replacement free/busy calendar for her website, I made the following list of what I found.

CRITERIA
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.

THE LIST
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.

phpScheduleIt: Web-based reservation and scheduling system. Under active development. Good reviews. Demo available (requires JavaScript). Active support forum. Has a web installer, but prior editing of a text file is required; this is a simple task for someone comfortable with MySQL. Unclear if embeddable minical is available.

Plans: Abandoned in 2010.

Prospector: Inactive since 2001.

The Coolest DHTML Calendar: Unmaintained since 2005; superseded by a proprietary product. Still lots of users.

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.

OTHER LISTS OF WEB-BASED CALENDARS
Lists of alternatives on the phpScheduleIt and Plans project sites
Calendars at Freshmeat, Ohloh, SourceForge

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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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One Response to Web-based calendars

  1. Pingback: Installing and configuring WebCalendar | A maze of twisty little passages

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