Q: What is the elmcity project?

Q: Why iCalendar?

Q: What do contributors do?

Q: What do curators do?

Q: How do I contribute events to a hub?

Q: OK, I started a hub, where’s my stuff?

Q: Where do I find iCalendar feeds?

Q: OK, I’ve found or created some iCalendar feeds. How do I get the collector to collect and process them?

Q: How can I customize the collector for my location?

Q: How do I categorize feeds and events?

Q: How do I view categorized events?

Q: I just added a feed. Can I run the aggregator now instead of waiting up to 8 hours for the next cycle?

Q: Where do curators hang out?


Q: What is the elmcity project?

A: It’s a web service that:

  • Collects online calendar events for geographic or topical communities
  • Merges information from many sources: Eventful, Upcoming, Eventbrite, Facebook, Meetup, and iCalendar feeds published by popular calendar programs
  • Creates network effects using iCalendar (ICS) feeds, in the same way that blogging and microblogging systems create network effects using RSS, Atom, and Twitter feeds
  • Does not store events in a centralized database, but rather operates as a hub that merges streams of events and republishes the merged result in a variety of formats
  • Is managed by one or more curators in a community, on behalf of everyone in the community
  • Runs on, and demonstrates the capabilities of, Microsoft’s Azure platform
  • Is released under the Apache 2.0 license at github.com/judell/elmcity


Q: Why iCalendar?

A: Please see the one-page summary.


Q: What do contributors do?

A: Please see the pictorial overview.


Q: What do curators do?

A: Please see the pictorial overview.


Q: How do I contribute events to a hub?

A: You can contribute in any of these ways:

  1. Publish your own iCalendar feed, and give its URL to the hub’s curator. You can do this most easily using Google Calendar or Hotmail Calendar. You can also use Microsoft Outlook or Apple iCal

    Stan Dyck, who curates the Puget Sound Engineering Council hub, created an excellent decision chart that describes the iCalendar options.

  2. Eventful: Post an event to a venue within your hub’s radius.

  3. Yahoo: Post an event to a venue within your hub’s radius.

  4. EventBrite: Post an event to a venue within your hub’s radius.

  5. Facebook: Post an public event to the Events app on a Facebook Page.

  6. Meetup: Make your Meetup group’s calendar public.


Q: Where do I find iCalendar feeds?

A: This is a major challenge, and also an exciting opportunity. Although there seems to be a lot of calendar information floating around on the web, most of it isn’t usefully available. Web pages and PDF files are much more common than iCalendar feeds. But those formats cannot be read, processed, and syndicated in the ways that iCalendar feeds can be.

The central goal of this project is to light up iCalendar feeds that could easily exist on the web, and should, but don’t.

Here are some strategies:

  1. Create your own feeds.
    Maybe you coach a youth soccer team, or run a local restaurant that features musical performances, or participate in a birdwatching club whose hikes are open to the public. You can, and should, and maybe already do publish a web page about these events. But you probably don’t publish an iCalendar feed.

    Here’s the strategy: Maintain the calendar information in a program like Google Calendar, Hotmail Calendar, Outlook, or Apple iCal. That way, you can publish your calendar to the web in HTML format for people to read, and simultaneously publish in ICS format for syndication. Here’s how to do that for Google Calendar and Hotmail Calendar, for Outlook 2007, and Apple iCal.

  2. Light up existing feeds.
    In a number of cases, people are publishing web calendars without even realizing that they are also publishing iCalendar feeds. This happens most often with Google Calendar. Consider WV Get To Know Your Neighbor. The site uses Google Calendar to publish an events page. Unbeknownst to the site owner, there is an ICS link that corresponds to that calendar. The link is:


    Given the email address associated with any Google Calendar, you can produce an iCalendar link of this form. The Huntington WV curator did so, and as a result the Get To Know Your Neighbor calendar is now included in the set of Huntington feeds. If you don’t know and can’t easily find the email address associated with the calendar, just ask the site owner.

    Other sources of existing feeds: Eventful or Upcoming venues, Facebook Pages, Meetup groups.



Q: Why should people care about publishing iCalendar feeds?

A: For two major reasons:

  1. Personal information management
    When you publish an iCalendar feed, people can subscribe to it from their personal calendar programs: Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal, others. They can see public events (the soccer game, the musical performance) as overlays on their personal events (the dentist appointment, the birthday party).
  2. Social information management
    When you publish an iCalendar feed, it can syndicate to one or more services like the elmcity collector. A comprehensive view of what’s going on in a town or neighborhood can therefore emerge without any central management or control. Individuals, groups, and organizations can write down their event information once, and have it propagate through the syndication network without loss of fidelity or control.



Q: OK, I’ve found or created some iCalendar feeds. How do I get the collector to collect and process them?

A: You sign into elmcity, using the Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, or Google account you provided when you started your hub, and use the feed editor to add feeds.


Q: How can I customize the collector for my location?

A: You sign into elmcity, using the Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, or Google account you provided when you started your hub, and use the hub editor to adjust the default settings as needed.


Q: How do I categorize feeds and events?

A: On a per-feed basis, if all of the events from a feed can be categorized, you can name that category in the elmcity feed editor.

On a per-event basis, if events in the iCalendar feed use the CATEGORIES property, it’ll come through automatically.

On a per-event basis, the Description field can also use these patterns anywhere in the text:




Q: How do I view categorized events?

A: All the formats accept a ?view= parameter. So for example:




Q: I just added a feed. Can I run the aggregator now instead of waiting up to 8 hours for the next cycle?

A: Yes. If you specify a Twitter account when you start your hub the elmcity service, represented on Twitter as @elmcity_azure, will follow the Twitter account you specified. That means you can send messages to the service from Twitter. To start the aggregator without waiting, send a Twitter direct message to @elmcity_azure that simply says: start.


Q: Where do curators hang out?

A: We are currently using the FriendFeed room friendfeed.com/rooms/elmcity. The room subscribes to the following sources:

Feel free to join this FriendFeed room. But there’s no need to do so. You can monitor activity there, or subscribe to its RSS feed, without having to register and join.

44 Responses to “Elm City faq”

  1. [...] software or develop software. I barely do scripting. however Jon Udell is big on prototyping and showing full examples of how a Social Bookmarking service like del.icio.us could be adapted to the purpose of aggregating [...]

  2. [...] in another, more comprehensive aggregating calendar. (A great example of this is Jon Udell’s Elm City project; in an academic context, see Jim Groom’s Aggregating Google [...]

  3. Clever stuff Jon Udell, not really taken in the full extend of what you have created yet but I’m interested to see if we can use it in the UK.

  4. [...] a combined calendar of Free Webinars. The really nice thing about the way Jon Udell has set up his elmcity project (the system we are using) is that it acts a lot like social curation on RSS sources as provided by [...]

  5. [...] example aggregation, I have used the free “the elmcity calendar curation project” (See elmcity project FAQ for more details. Jon Udell’s support has been fantastic, even though he knows that I am just [...]

  6. [...] Another example of the reading list/shared curation pattern is exemplified by Jon Udell’s elmcity project, which allows for separately maintained calendar feeds to be managed and aggregated using the Delicious social bookmarking tool (e.g. Collaborative curation as a service, elmcity project FAQ. [...]

  7. [...] some clever technology by Jon Udell at the Elmcity Project, the calendar is assembled by drawing on external sources. At the moment, any Berkeley event that [...]

  8. Chris Smith Says:

    John, can you point me to a set of best practices for category tagging for ICS feeds?

    The City government in Portland, Oregon is working on an open data project and I’d like to encourage them to make ICS feeds a part of the effort, but am trying to sort out how citizens could filter and parse the hundreds of meetings and events that would show up in the City’s feed.

  9. [...] discussed issues ranging from Open Cities and Journalism to Jon Udell’s Elmcity project. The last session of the conference focused on the winners of the CityCamp Challenge, [...]

  10. [...] in creative ways. The second session, by Jon Udell on the seemingly innocuous (to me) topic of event aggregation, who elmcity project opened my eyes to the enormous social bonding potential of properly tagged RSS [...]

  11. [...] elmcity project FAQ [...]

  12. [...] championing of the iCalendar standard –  a date and place as demonstrated by the  the elmcity project supporting calendar curation and aggregation. Shared context enables the making of new connection, [...]

  13. [...] Sunbury-on-Thames. I was impressed by the ease with which I was able to set this up (go read the Elmcity FAQ to find out how to set up an Elmcity hub for your own home town) and was pleased to see, via my [...]

  14. [...] format and also contribute to Jon Udell‘s Elmcity project which you can read more about at Elmcity Project FAQ. I encourage you to contribute. [...]

  15. [...] presenter, the esteemed Jon Udell, related to us his latest project teaching others to be virtual curators for community calendars based on syndication. We share frustration with the way event producers present their calendar [...]

  16. [...] am a supporter of Jon Udell’s Elmcity project that is seeking to broaden the awareness of iCalendar by aggregating iCalendar data per locale. My [...]

  17. [...] but he has also been a calendaring activist for some time through his elmcity project (http://blog.jonudell.net/elmcity-project-faq/). I have been reading Jon Udell since his days as a columnist for Infoworld, long before he [...]

  18. [...] kalenterien maailmaan ei ollutkaan ihan niin suora kuin kuvittelin, vaan koukkasin elmcity-nimisen projektin kautta. Elmcity on Jon Udell:in idea, jossa ajatuksena on rakentaa kevyt [...]

  19. [...] am a supporter of Jon Udell’s Elmcity project that is seeking to broaden the awareness of iCalendar by aggregating iCalendar data per locale. My [...]

  20. Mike Honey Says:

    Hi John, good effort to push this project along – it would be great to see better integration of all the many calendars we juggle in our professional and personal lives. I run a handful of websites with event calendars so I’ll definitely introduce iCalendar and hook them into the global feed – very exciting.

    I have a question about SharePoint integration – your FAQ mentioned the “Community Kit for SharePoint”, but on the linked page I couldn’t find any info about an iCalendar module?

  21. Jon Udell Says:

    Hi Mike,

    I found it here:


    I’ve not used it myself. If you do try it I’d like to hear about the results.

  22. [...] elmcity project faq « Jon Udell Thank you @judell for pointing to 7 Ways to Think About the Web (http://bit.ly/fKd0H1) and your calendar hub (http://bit.ly/oXaVv). #jboye11 – Jay Collier (JayCollier) http://twitter.com/JayCollier/status/65966365932126208 (tags: jboye11 via:packrati.us) [...]

  23. peter Says:


    am interested in trying to set up for a Swedish municipality. before trying, would like to ask if I will likelyrun into issues with languge coding? geo location is also done differently in my neck of the woods, for example we don’t do states… examples outside English speaking world you can point to?

    all the best,

  24. [...] be managed by an internal spreadsheet on a Sharepoint site, which was painful for a lot of reasons. I took a cue from Jon Udell, who uses of a public Delicious feed feed for his Elm City project, and we moved the management of these posts over to a Delicious feed as well. You can hear more [...]

  25. [...] there’s nothing in the iCal ecosystem that fills to roll of OPML in the RSS world. Even elmcity simply uses delicious as the canonical [...]

  26. [...] their webinars available in an iCalendar feed and I would then use an aggregation service (called ElmCity) to produce a single feed containing all that information so that the likes of you and I could [...]

  27. Kevin Jones Says:

    Hi Jon,

    Great site. I’m trying to publish my organization’s google calendar feed to your events page with no success. I sent an email, got the iCal feed and pasted it into the email, but I’ve not seen my events appear. Can you let me know what I’m doing incorrectly?

  28. [...] elmcity project faq « Jon Udell Fascinating material on curation, bookmarking etc. Not just discussion, but practical nuts & bolts stuff too (tags: collaboration curation opensource local ALISSproject) [...]

  29. [...] is a transformative technology and would like to get involved then take a look at Jon Udell's Elmcity project (FAQ) to curate your own calendar for your home town. Published Wednesday, February 08, 2012 [...]

  30. [...] Udell will talk about the Elm City Project - which is “rethinking the community calendar“.  This projects brings together event information from a variety of sources and websites [...]

  31. hackett Says:

    really a good site. but i do not understand how to post the events to hugs. and you should make it easier for user to join your site

  32. psjparka Says:

    how to submit the events? it need any other to register. do have pjs parka information here

  33. parajumpers Says:

    really good template for evens,and how it can post the new evens here?

  34. how to post here? do anyone get manager that

  35. Parajumpers outlet Says:

    do any guides for post that. i can not submit here.

  36. […] Evangelist within Microsoft who has been working on the ElmCity project. Paraphrasing Jon’s FAQ, […]

  37. […] would work particularly well at institutions which have centralized calendars or in the case of Udell’s Elm City aggregated calendars. Take VCU’s calendar of events as an example. It has time, location, and […]

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