News from IT that isn't just for geeks

New Event Calendar

Posted on: February 25th, 2012 by Robby Seitz

event calendar screen shot

Last week a new Event Calendar was rolled out for the university community. It may look similar to the old one on the outside, but underneath it is fundamentally different.

There are so many online calendars on the market that it is worth explaining why we chose to build a new one. There are two aspects to advertising an event on the Web. One is to have it listed in a calendar where everyone can find it. The other is to let people know there’s something on the calendar to see. We had applications for both of those, but there was nothing linking them. A person would have to submit all the necessary information for an event to be put on the calendar, and then submit it all again through a different process in order to tell people about it. The errors and delays caused by this necessary redundancy compounded the difficulty. And, frankly, our campus calendar lacked many events that people would expect to find on it, due mainly to these difficulties.

To avoid additional time entering duplicate information, we chose to combine the two processes. An event would be its own announcement. The new calendar is run by UM Today, our one-stop announcement delivery system. When an UM Today administrator enters an event announcement, she is presented with new fields for date, time, location, and sponsors so that all the pertinent information is gathered at one time. Once submitted, the event immediately appears on the Event Calendar, and the announcement for it will appear in UM Today for the specified period prior to the event date. So today you can submit an announcement for an event in the fall, and by setting the “validity dates” correctly, it will start being announced in UM Today up to 21 days prior to the event. And since announcements can be pushed to the Bulletin Board, it will also appear on the UM home page at the same time.

Additional features are already planned, including a method of displaying sponsored events directly in the sponsors’ websites. Expect to see further improvements over the next several weeks. Please let us know if you have ideas to make it better. And, by all means, be sure to add events to the Event Calendar–It’s where people are looking.