I don’t get out much, it’s true. But when I do, I like to know where I need to be, when and for how long.
I’m not alone in this, and that’s why we have so many companies offering us on-line calendars, from Apple to Google and Microsoft/Outlook and a host of third-party applications. I’ve got a series of Calendars on my iDevices, plus my work diary as a subscription so I can see work and personal stuff side by side in my chosen application (currently Timepage from Moleskin, previously the now-withdrawn Tempo.ai app).
But it’s hugely annoying when you sign up for events online, or buy train tickets, or book hotels, and there’s no way to automatically get those bookings added to your calendar.
East Coast used to append a .ics file when they sent you the booking confirmation. Now they don’t; you have to visit the website, find the booking and find the not-obvious “Add to Calendar” link. That .ics file contained every journey twice, which was a nuisance, but better than nothing.
There’s a link on the East Midlands Trains site in the booking details in your account too, and it’s on the web page when you confirm; but again, not in the email so that you can open the attachment and have it added to your *mobile* calendars.
Accor Hotels? You don’t even get the link on their website. Sometimes you get an Add to Calendar link with a booking, sometimes you don’t. No rhyme or reason to it.
CIPR volunteers have access to a platform, and the events there have an Add to Calendar link. It doesn’t work on (my) iDevices, and you can’t download the file to add manually to your calendar. Desktops or nothing, it seems. Eventbrite? You have to visit the event page on their website – it’s not included with your confirmation email.
It’s not rocket science
Now: you might think that this sort of really useful functionality is really difficult to do. Not so. This website shows you how.
The .ics file can be created when the email is sent, with all the relevant fields populated by existing information in the event / booking system. A small amount of effort for a large amount of usefulness.
Put it this way: if a librarian-cum-PR-cum-fencing coach can build a .kml file using a MySQL database and PHP script to map 2,563 rail stations onto a Google map, in his spare time, organisations that employ developers have no excuse. Have they?