Mashing up LibraryThing, FuseCal, and RSS2HTML to create iCalendar feeds for LibraryThing events

One of the elmcity project‘s curators — Richard Akerman, in Ottawa — likes to use LibraryThing to keep track of events. He provided me with this RSS feed for Ottawa’s LibraryThing events:

http://www.librarything.com/rss/events/location/ottawa,+on

Although this feed does contain event information, it’s weakly structured. The dates and times appear as free text within the RSS <description> element:

<description>Thursday, April 30 (12:00 pm) Jeramy Dodds discusses Crabwise to the Hounds; Matthew Tierney discusses The Hayflick Unit. Join two stellar poets for a team Masterclass on poetry. Jeramy Dodds, recently shortlisted for the Griffin Prize, and Matthew Tierney, author of The Hayflick Unit and Full speed through the morning dark, for an exploration of the intersection of science and poetry.</description>

Could LibraryThing provide an iCalendar feed? Sure. But in order to do so, its events system would want to start gathering information in a more structured way.

Could FuseCal read the unstructured RSS feed and turn it into a structured RSS feed? In theory yes, in practice it doesn’t seem to want to read XML.

But wait. Maybe FuseCal can read an HTML translation of the RSS feed and turn that into an iCalendar feed?

Yep, that works. For calendar curators, and for anyone else who may be interested, here’s the recipe:

  1. Find a service that converts RSS into HTML. For example: http://www.rss2html.com.

  2. Form a URL that uses that service to convert a LibraryThing feed. For example: http://www.rss2html.com/public/rss2html.php?TEMPLATE=template-1-1-1.htm& XMLFILE=http://www.librarything.com/rss/events/location/keene,nh

    For another location, just replace keene,nh with, say, ottawa,on or baltimore,md.

  3. Copy that URL and paste it into FuseCal.

  4. Click Add to My Calendar -> Other Calendar in FuseCal to expose the iCalendar URL.

  5. If you’re curating for the elmcity project, bookmark that iCalendar URL in the Delicious account you’re using to control your instance of the calendar hub.

Of course I could just automatically scan LibraryThing for each instance, just as I’m doing for Eventful and Upcoming. If that’s what curators prefer, I will. But in any case, this is a nice example of the kind of lightweight, spontaneous, opportunistic integration that I mentioned in my talk at the Global Research Library summit.

6 Comments

  1. “Other Calendar”

    Right, thanks, I tweaked that instruction.

    Always sad to see this kind of thing. In calendar space:

    Subscribe in: Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, Google Calendar, Live Calendar, Apple iCal, Other

    But we see the same for blog feeds, and for audio/video playback.

    If the web had said:

    Click link in: Mosaic, Netscape, IE, Mozilla, Safari, Chrome, Opera, other…

    …then we wouldn’t be having this conversation, because there wouldn’t be a web.

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