How to manage private and public calendars together

My wife Luann wants to help promote an annual event called the Fall Foliage Artist Studio Tour (FFAST). The organization has a website, and could publish a calendar there, but a calendar with only a single date doesn’t make much sense. And yet this event wants to be written down only once, then flow through the Keene hub as well as other local and regional hubs. How can you arrange that?

As the curator of the Keene hub, I keep a special calendar of one-off and recurring events. These are events that I happen to know and care about, aren’t available in any existing calendar feed, but ought to be syndicating through the hub. I only do this for stuff that I care about, though, and the FFAST event is Luann’s thing, not my thing.

She’s willing and able to curate certain art-related events for our region. One way to do that would be for her to spin up a new elmcity hub for the purpose. But that’s a heavyweight solution. For things like FFAST she needs something lighter. Hence the method described in this post, which for lack of a better term I am calling subcuration.

The idea, in a nutshell, is to combine private and public use of an online calendar. I’ll demonstrate it for Google Calendar, and also for Windows Live Calendar. In both cases, the method entails:

1. Using a private calendar for your personal stuff.

2. Using an auxiliary public calendar for public stuff.

3. Viewing both calendars together so you see everything, just as if you kept it all in your personal calendar.

4. Making the public calendar’s iCalendar feed available for syndication.

Subcuration with Google Calendar

My personal Google Calendar is called Jon Udell (private). To verify that it’s private, I can follow this trail of links from the GCal home page: Settings -> Calendar Settings -> Calendars -> Jon Udell (private) -> Share this calendar. The checkbox named Mark this calendar public is unchecked, as it should be.

Now I’ll create a new calendar, called Jon Udell (public). To make it public, I check the checkbox.

As Google explains, that means the events here will appear in public Google search results. As Google does not explain, it also means that the iCalendar feed for this calendar is open to syndication.

Now I’ll add the FFAST event to my public calendar:

Here’s a view of both calendars. It combines stuff from my personal calendar (birthdays) with stuff from my public calendar (FFAST). From this point of view, it’s just like keeping everything in my personal calendar.

But there’s a key difference. The public calendar has a public iCalendar feed, and I can give its URL to the curator of a syndication hub. To find the URL, I follow this link trail: Settings -> Calendar Settings -> Calendars -> Jon Udell (public). Scrolling down from there, I find a section labeled Calendar Address which contains:

The URL for the iCalendar feed is hiding behind the green ICAL button. To capture it:

1. Right-click (or alt-click) the button.

2. Copy the link address.

3. Bookmark it (if you’re a curator), or paste it into an email to a curator (if you’re a subcurator).

In case you’re curious, here’s the actual feed that a personal calendar app, or a syndication hub, will retrieve at that URL:

BEGIN:VCALENDAR
PRODID:-//Google Inc//Google Calendar 70.9054//EN
VERSION:2.0
CALSCALE:GREGORIAN
METHOD:PUBLISH
X-WR-CALNAME:Jon Udell (public)
X-WR-TIMEZONE:America/New_York
BEGIN:VEVENT
DTSTART;VALUE=DATE:20101009
DTEND;VALUE=DATE:20101011
DTSTAMP:20100519T151655Z
UID:kf4e4qjk08tfd0cmm1v9mc5kbc@google.com
CREATED:20100519T150628Z
DESCRIPTION:http://www.fallfoliageartstudiotour.com/
LAST-MODIFIED:20100519T151054Z
LOCATION:http://www.fallfoliageartstudiotour.com/
SEQUENCE:2
STATUS:CONFIRMED
SUMMARY:Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour
TRANSP:TRANSPARENT
END:VEVENT
END:VCALENDAR

Subcuration with Windows Live Calendar

As before, my private calendar is Jon Udell (private). Now I'll create a new calendar, called Jon Udell (public).

To make it public I click Edit Sharing which leads to:

Here I check Share This Calendar and Make Your Calendar Public.

Now I add the FFAST event to the public calendar:

Here's the same combined view of private and public events:

To capture the URL of the public iCalendar feed, I follow this link trail from the Live Calendar home page: Calendars -> Jon Udell (public) -> Edit sharing -> ICS: Import into another calendar application. That leads to:

That's is the URL of the iCalendar feed. When a client (personal calendar app or a syndication hub) retrieves the feed, it gets this:

BEGIN:VCALENDAR
METHOD:PUBLISH
VERSION:2.0
PRODID:-//Microsoft Corporation//Windows Live Calendar//EN
BEGIN:VTIMEZONE
BEGIN:VEVENT
UID:29ca7340-9f29-43f5-a62e-7e989ddb99a9
CLASS:PUBLIC
X-MICROSOFT-CDO-BUSYSTATUS:FREE
TRANSP:TRANSPARENT
SEQUENCE:0
CREATED:20100519T164446Z
LAST-MODIFIED:20100519T164446Z
DTSTART;VALUE=DATE:20101009
DTEND;VALUE=DATE:20101011
SUMMARY:Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour
LOCATION:http://www.fallfoliageartstudiotour.com
PRIORITY:0
END:VEVENT
END:VCALENDAR

Summary

These two examples illustrate a set of principles in the context of two different online calendar applications. The same principles will apply to other calendar applications that support multiple calendars, and can publish selected calendars in iCalendar format to open URLs.

The principles are, once again:

1. Use a private calendar for your personal stuff.

2. Use an auxiliary public calendar for public stuff.

3. View both calendars together so you see everything, just as if you kept it all in your personal calendar.

4. Make the public calendar's iCalendar feed available for syndication.

8 thoughts on “How to manage private and public calendars together

  1. Pingback: Public iCal calendars through MobileMe? | GFMorris.com

    1. Jon Udell Post author

      And here’s the answer he found:

      So what you have to do is this:

      1. Open iCal.
      2. Select the calendar you want published on MobileMe.
      3. Calendar -> Publish
      4. Follow obvious instructions.

      Note: Apple’s help files on this subject are from iCal 3.0, and reference .Mac. Zounds!

      Reply
  2. Boris Mann

    Hi Jon. I’ve been really happy with Tungle (http://tungle.com). It does a good job of being a calendar aggregator. Then, on my profile page (http://tungle.me/boris) I can selectively take items and make them public.

    I run three private calendars already (public, business 1, business 2), and making items selectively public via Tungle is stuff I’m just starting to experiment with.

    Reply
  3. Jon Udell Post author

    If Tungle can be used for the purpose described here, I guess it might go like this:

    1. You keep a mix of personal and public events in one of the calendars that Tungle can sync from.

    2. You mark the public events as public in Tungle.

    3. Those events show up in your public Tungle iCalendar feed, which can then be plugged into a syndication network.

    I’m curious to know if this is actually possible.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Seven ways to think like the web « Jon Udell

  5. Pingback: Think like the web or even like Jon Udell | Life's simple, why change it?

  6. Kathy

    Just wanted to say thank you for posting this information (I realize it is from 2010, but it still works)! You made my life so much easier!! :-)

    Reply

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