There are any number of preparatory decisions that must be made before implementing live calendars using 25Live Publisher. These decisions determine which data elements must be built, what security must be set, and what additional modifications must be made to your 25Live environment. 25Live calendar feeds may be built using any data element that is searchable including locations, event types, event categories, resources, and organizations. Which data element, or elements, you choose will depend on the events you want to group in a 25Live calendar.
Planning for Live Calendars
Before you begin to build data structures and searches to publish event feeds for 25Live Publisher to consume, you need to determine which calendars you need to build and in what order. Common calendars include: major events that you want to promote to the general public, academic calendars, athletics calendars, student life calendars, and other similar institutional-wide calendars. Additionally, academic departments and committees will likely eventually be interested in having calendars on their web pages. Prior to making any decisions about how to structure data elements for calendaring, you need to undertake some important planning steps:
- Gather interested constituencies to arrive at a list of calendars,
- Decide the order in which you will build these critical calendars,
- Select one calendar to become your prototype, or first calendar (focus your efforts on building, styling, and publishing that initial calendar before you move on to other calendars),
- Set a schedule of release dates for each critical calendar, realizing that the additional calendar release dates may move depending on how long it takes you to prepare your initial calendar for release, and
- Plan for the longer term, when you will likely be building departmental and committee calendars.
Keep in mind that your initial calendar will be the most time-consuming calendar – you are having to learn how to effectively search for and publish events as calendar feeds, select and build calendars, and style those calendars so that they look like part of the campus website. Many of the decisions you make on this initial calendar will save time as you build future calendars.
Common Data Elements Used for Building Calendars in 25Live Publisher
The number of data elements that you can use to structure searches for live calendar feeds can be daunting at first glance. However, there are a number of elements that are commonly used by campuses in building live calendars, including:
Some of these elements feature prominently in the search building process for publishing live feeds. Other elements provide useful data that may be used in building special types of calendars.
Event Types help identify the kind of event being created and are a critical building block in the 25Live environment. Event Types are generic representations of the different kinds of events that take place on your campus. Common event types include: conference, performance, break-out session, banquet, lecture/seminar, and student-sponsored activity. Event types are used in 25Live to determine default reports and categories, as well as which custom attributes and requirements will appear on the event form when the event type is selected. The event type can act as a search limitation device to return subsets of event data for building calendar feeds.
Event Categories are the most commonly used method for grouping events for publication in 25Live Publisher. Because categories are designed to be grouping mechanisms in 25Live, they are an intuitive way to identify and search for events. You can create multiple event categories to help you determine which calendar an event is meant to populate. These categories then become a handy method for grouping like events for publication in an event feed.
If necessary, a Functional or System Administrator can restrict the visibility of these calendar event categories from general requestors by abridging the list of categories in the 25Live System Settings. It is also possible to configure a custom Event Form for requestors that excludes the Event Categories editor entirely from their view. As illustrated in the image below, a typical naming convention for Event Categories targeting specific calendars is Calendar - Calendar Name.
For more information concerning how to provide an abridged list of Event Categories to Requestors or how to hide Event Categories entirely from Requestors, review the article, Event Categories and 25Live Publisher.
Event Custom Attributes
Event Custom Attributes normally do not function as search parameters for publishing event feeds, but there are three custom attributes that play roles within Publisher for specific functionality:
- the Event Image (File Reference data type),
- the Detail Image (File Reference data type),
- Featured Events (String data type), and
- Web Site.
Both the Event Image and Detail Image are used as part of photo-driven calendars and promotional spuds in 25Live Publisher. As file reference data types, these two custom attributes merely need to contain a link to an image that you want to populate the calendar published via 25Live Publisher. The Event Image should be a thumbnail-sized image; the Detail Image is a larger-sized version of the Event Image that would display in the Event Description details when a user clicks to open an event from a 25Live Publisher calendar. The Featured Events custom attribute is used in calendars to show a subset of a feed based off the text in this custom attribute. The Web Site custom attribute is a field for storage of a URL to an event's dedicated web page.
External Storage for Event and Detail Images
You will need to determine a storage location for both your event and detail images for use with calendars. CollegeNET does not provide a storage location for these images.
The Requirements (Calendar) data element has become closely tied with use of Event Categories when building Publisher feeds. A calendar requirement can be defined for each calendar event category, thus restricting requestors' ability to choose a calendar event category directly. Requestors may then indicate, via the Publish to Calendar editor in the Event Form, which calendar is appropriate for their event along with a reason they think it should be posted on that calendar. Additionally, Requirements can have Notification Policies defined, allowing a campus to set up a vetting process for events.
25Live Rules and Event Calendars
For more information on using rules with 25Live Publisher implementations, visit 25Live Rules and Event Calendars.
A newer approach is to build calendar resources for each of the major calendars on campus. Because resources rely on Assignment Policy to route tasks to an approver security group, this produces a vetting process for feeding events to calendars, with a clear gatekeeper. Even if a requestor selects a calendar resource, the event will not flow into the event feed until the approver has approved the resource making it an assigned resource for the event. Using event resources allows a marketing or public information office the opportunity to review event details and act as the "owner" of calendars.
After you have a few major calendars published to campus web pages, you will likely have academic departments, administrative departments, and possibly even some standing committees requesting 25Live Publisher live calendars on their web pages. These departmental and committee calendars are typically aimed at a more specific internal audience. In these cases, defining event resources or event categories would be counterproductive, as the number of categories and resources would soon become unwieldy. You may instead rely on the Primary Organization as the main way of defining these types of calendars. It will be important that you educate faculty and staff in these organizations that their events will be routed based primarily on the organization record selected as the Primary Organization in the Event Form.