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.

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.

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.

Lists of alternatives on the phpScheduleIt and Plans project sites
Calendars at Freshmeat, Ohloh, SourceForge


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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