How to create an iCal file to import

Discussions about the Calendar Tool at lds.org. Questions about the calendar on the classic site should be posted in the LUWS forum.
garymblakely
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How to create an iCal file to import

Postby garymblakely » Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:52 pm

Church units all over are working on 2013 stake, ward and auxiliary calendars. Rather than to create events from scratch online, one-by-one, it would be great to be able to export this year's calendar, edit it, and then import it to LDS calendar. (That's what we did in the old online calendar site.)

Now, on the new calendar, it appears that one can import events, but I don't see any Export function. Plus, the only Import format now seems to be iCal. (You used to be able to use .CSV format, making spreadsheets a convenient tool.) So how do I create a calendar in iCal format? Can I do it in a spreadsheet?

Thanks!

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:14 pm

garymblakely wrote:Church units all over are working on 2013 stake, ward and auxiliary calendars. Rather than to create events from scratch online, one-by-one, it would be great to be able to export this year's calendar, edit it, and then import it to LDS calendar. (That's what we did in the old online calendar site.)

Now, on the new calendar, it appears that one can import events, but I don't see any Export function. Plus, the only Import format now seems to be iCal. (You used to be able to use .CSV format, making spreadsheets a convenient tool.) So how do I create a calendar in iCal format? Can I do it in a spreadsheet?


The export capability is related to the sync feature. See Export the Calendar as an iCal file. But note that the sync feature is temporarily disabled right now (see Calendar Availability Issues). Also, note that the iCal format is rather particular and you need to make sure any edits you make are done properly, or the resulting file will not be able to be imported.

You can't create an iCal file in a spreadsheet. You can use another calendar application (such as Outlook or Google Calendar) to create a calendar and then use that application's Export feature to create an iCal file (sometimes also called a .ics file).
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kyleq
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Postby kyleq » Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:51 am

garymblakely wrote:Church units all over are working on 2013 stake, ward and auxiliary calendars. Rather than to create events from scratch online, one-by-one, it would be great to be able to export this year's calendar, edit it, and then import it to LDS calendar.


One of the goals with the calendar is to make it more usable and simple in order to make people's lives easier. Gary what about the current calendar makes editing in a spreadsheet or other program more convenient than within the actual calendar app? I'd love to find out how we could make this process or bulk planning more convenient right within the app.

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:16 am

kyleq wrote:I'd love to find out how we could make this process or bulk planning more convenient right within the app.


Speaking for myself:

1) Eliminate or improve the small "summery" pop-up for adding new events or reservations. It never has enough detail for creating a new event. It ends up adding an extra step each time a new event is added.
2) Frequently I'm working with more then one window on my computer. Sometimes I click on something in the calendar simply to shift focus back to that window and I trigger an unwanted reaction.
3) At the end of the day, a web app has the responsiveness of a web app. What I'd love to see is something with the responsiveness of a local app that talks to the backend for data.
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:41 pm

kyleq wrote:What about the current calendar makes editing in a spreadsheet or other program more convenient than within the actual calendar app? I'd love to find out how we could make this process or bulk planning more convenient right within the app.


Here are some more ideas:

  • The 2-year limit on repeating events makes us revisit those events every year (I entered the 2012 events in September 2011, which could only continue through September 2013, which left off the last quarter of 2013 -- thus I have to extend them all each year). I have a lot of repeating events, and most of them are once a month or once a quarter. That's a lot of tedious work for events that otherwise could be set up once and require little to no work in subsequent years. I understand that the limit was put in place to reduce the strain on servers for repeating events that generate a lot of instances. But for annual events, you could let me plan 10 years in advance and it would only generate 10 events; a quarterly event would generate only 40 events. Those are both a lot less than even one year of weekly events. Is there any way to increase that 2-year limit, even if it is only for monthly and annual events?
  • It would be helpful to have some sort of "tentative" status for events. I'm not sure exactly how this could be implemented, but as we're working through the planning process, I as a clerk want to put events on the calendar so that the stake presidency can see how they all fit together on the calendar. These events are not approved yet, so I don't want anyone to rely on them. In our stake, we've decided just to add them and tell people not to trust any events in 2013 until we tell them the official calendar is approved. But I've seen posts on this forum that describe how people use an external system for the drafting process so that no hint of the tentative events appear until the approved calendar for the upcoming year is finally imported.
  • I'd echo RussellHltn's comment about performance. Sometimes the slow response time on the web app gets very tedious when I'm dealing with dozens and dozens of events. It makes me long for the old days of Calendar Creator running on a Pentium processor, which was much faster.
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dshep2020
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Postby dshep2020 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:55 pm

We have used a spreadsheet which has a macro that coverts entires (including recurring events) into one .ics file for import. It was used by our stake exec sec for yearly planning. He was keeping his "notes" in excel, so we figured with some standardized formatting and structure, why not create the iCal file from his notes. He liked being able to adjust things "offline" and liked the ability to see things in a year view list. When his planning was finalized, he would run the macro and create the iCal file which he would import. In the v2 release, we decided to stop using this method for a variety of reason, but mainly because he had to touch every event that needed a location/resource assigned anyway. It has changed the workflow, but it relies on only the standard manual entry method for input. Supporting the macro was a bit of a pain.

We would still use the bulk import if there were a way to include location and resource tags in iCal file. We figured this wasnt going to happen so have moved on.

My wish list to aid in yearly planning would include:
- removing two year recurrence limits
- provide a event detail entry only space; i.e. event details screen and when successful add, takes you to a blank event details entry screen.
- allow single events to show on multiple calendars (this is probably one of the top feedback items I get)

anderal
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Postby anderal » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:27 am

As referenced by garymblakely. I am one of those members tasked with consolidating and importing all the 2013 Stake Calendars. I have approximately 450 events that must be created and at present, this is a very difficult and time consuming task without a simple upload tool (i.e. .CSV or .XLS format). Am I to understand correctly that I need to export an existing calendar from LDS.org into Google for manipulation purposes, then export to a iCal format, then import back into LDS.org? Please also note, that with the new functionality with Location & Resources, that the validation check will be called during this process, and I believe that there is no Location Header, built into the iCal Ver 2.0. Is there a "simple" work around besides working with a Google Calendar?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:37 pm

anderal wrote:As referenced by garymblakely. I am one of those members tasked with consolidating and importing all the 2013 Stake Calendars. I have approximately 450 events that must be created and at present, this is a very difficult and time consuming task without a simple upload tool (i.e. .CSV or .XLS format). Am I to understand correctly that I need to export an existing calendar from LDS.org into Google for manipulation purposes, then export to a iCal format, then import back into LDS.org? Please also note, that with the new functionality with Location & Resources, that the validation check will be called during this process, and I believe that there is no Location Header, built into the iCal Ver 2.0. Is there a "simple" work around besides working with a Google Calendar?


I have considered other options, but they all seem like more work than just using the Calendar directly. Why do you have calendar data in a separate calendar that would require an import process? Doing an import implies that you do all the work of creating the events in some other application, then import them into the LDS.org calendar, and then edit each event that has location information (in our case, that's a huge majority) to add in the location info. That sounds like a lot more work than just creating events directly in the calendar, particularly since the bulk of our events are repeating events, and all I have to do is extend repeating events that are already in the LDS.org calendar.
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kyleq
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Postby kyleq » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:06 pm

I picked through this thread full of wonderfully specific feedback and added several items to our backlog and increased the priority of items as well. Specifically I increased the priority of using formats besides ical for import/export functions, added an item to change the limit of yearly and monthly events to something besides two years, get rid of the quick view (summary) modal and to be able to leave the event creation window open to facilitate making multiple events in a shorter amount of time.

I've referenced this thread so we can come back and get a better feeling for the context when we start working on the tasks. Thank you so much for your feedback!


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