November 14, 2006 19:46 | WebTech

IMD group calendar solution using microformats and Technorati

I woke up this morning with, in my head, the first words from an email I had gotten from Scott last night, pleading: "*Desperately* need some kind of shared calendar capability on the [IMD] events page."

"How could I do this?" I thought. The existing events page was already an aggregate of all posts that IMD students and staffers had tagged as "events", so we already had "something". Just not a calendar, and no vCal file...

I spent breakfast researching possibilities:
- create a group on Upcoming and fetch the output from there? No good; it's a separate system, user logins, entry screens etc. I need something integrated.
- hack apart the Drupal "events" module for the calendar display code. Possible. Poked around in there for a few minutes... yeeeeaaahh not so much... drupal modules are pretty deeply integrated with the whole Drupal framework. Not gonna happen.

Let's see if there's anything I can do with Microformats' hCalendar. Neat, they provide a web-based, Javascript enabled hCalendar creator form. Very handy. Zoink!

Since for the IMD blog system I already have a custom Post screen, it was no problem to add a quick link to the above creator and add some instructions: "If you are posting an event, plug the info into this form, then copy and paste the HTML it gives you back into your blog post."

Great, now I have a reasonably easy way for the people to add hCalendar data to their events-related blog posts. Now I need to *do something* with that.

To his great chagrin, Hugh recently showed me Technorati's hReviews service. Maybe they have one for events? Yes sir they do. And what that form is, is essentially a front end for a RESTful hCalendar munging webservice. I feed it an html file full of hCalendar data, it gives me back.. a vCal file.

So, now, every 15 minutes, I fetch that vCal file and feed it to PHPiCalendar and presto: I have a group calendar generated from blog posts.

2 1/2 hours, from initial concept to completion.

(No, switching to Drupal in one afternoon was not only not possible, it was not an option. ;)