Hook Music Calendar

The Hook has a new local music section of their website that’s pretty nice — it’s got audio, video, show reviews, comments from the public, etc. The best part: an iCalendar-compliant music calendar, perfect for syndication and mashups. Any “community calendar” that doesn’t offer ICS syndication is basically useless. Yeah, that’s right — this blog entry was an excuse for me to kvech about how lousy every single local online community calendar is. I’ve been fishing for the opportunity for months.

26 Responses to “Hook Music Calendar”

  • Kvech away Waldo. I agree whole heartily in praise of being iCalendar compliant. It just makes life better.

    Standards, it’s what’s for dinner.

  • Is there any tech savvy involved?

  • As always, you young-uns are way ahead of me, but from what I can tell, iCalendar basically looks like a clone of Google calendars. Haven’t most community calendars gone interactive? I used Google Calendar for CASPCA Events (http://www.caspca.org/Events.htm) and I can barely even stay within sight of you guys where technology is concerned. What is ICS syndication? Probably an ignorant question, so I think I’ll just shut up now.

    BTW, I just checked out HooK’s iCal; my kvetch it doesn’t work (perhaps it was being updated when I checked it).

  • CE,

    Yes, I looked at the iCal section on that page and clicked the

    …in our constantly-updated (link) [iCal web calendar], which you can…

    Firefox displays error “webcal is not a registered protocol”

  • As always, you young-uns are way ahead of me, but from what I can tell, iCalendar basically looks like a clone of Google calendars.

    iCalendar isn’t a program, it’s a language in which calendars are written, a standard protocol for listing upcoming events. Google Calendar using iCalendar under the hood. Rather than keeping all of their data to themselves, usable only on The Hook’s site, they’ve chosen to store all of in it a subscribeable, portable format. This is 180° from what every other community calendar does.

    Firefox displays error “webcal is not a registered protocol”

    iCalendar (aka ICS, aka Webcal) isn’t a file format that Firefox knows what to do with, because Firefox is a web browser, while iCalendar is, in fact, a calendar. :) You could, however, open The Hook’s calendar in Google Calendar, any desktop calendar program, or even Firefox’s calendar program, Sunbird.

  • Oh okay. I see. Sorta. Well, kinda. Yeahh…not really. I don’t uh…I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    Did I mention you young-uns are way ahead of me? : ) Thanks for trying to explain.

  • Well, iCalendar is a language, not a program. Most calendars are whispered — it doesn’t matter what language they’re in, because you can’t hear it. This one is in English. :)

  • Actually, I’m with you on most of your explanation. I was just trying to add some levity to my ignorance. Why, then, did they provide that link? (that ends in “webcal is not a registered protocol”)

  • John, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. It said it can be viewed through Google Calendar, which I have. My calendar information is in a database file. When I bring up my calendar, it reads that database file. So I told the calendar interface to add another database. That’s where that webcal address came in. It isn’t a web address but it points to a calendar databse that is accessible on the web through the Goggle Calendar reader (interface), not a web browser. This may be technically a wrong explanation, but I’m able to view the info now in Google Calendar.

  • John, I don’t really know what I’m talking about…

    That’s okay CE, I think I’ve demonstrated that I don’t really understand it if you did. : ) Anyway, with or without iCal, it’s a cool page with lots of great info. – Thanks!

  • John,

    In Google Calendar, there is a box on the left-hand side called “My Calendars.” At the top of that box is a menu called “Add.” Click on that, choose “Add by URL,” and put the iCal link into the box that appears.


  • Thanks Vijith, I’ll check it out.

  • See here [wikipedia.org] for a nice explanation of it. Though language (or computer language) these days can include this sort of thing, I’d call it a document format or data format standard as it doesn’t really let you write complex operations of procedures like computer languages tend to do. But then perhaps I’m being picky.

    And John just for the record, people have been doing these sorts of things for a long time. Programming languages have been around at least since the 19th century (for things other than computers), and with what we’d recognize as computers since the 1940’s. So there are some pretty old geezers involved with this sort of thing. One of my favorite college teachers, Donald Knuth just turned 70 two days ago, and he’s still plugging away at some of these very things. So I’m afraid you have no excuses. :-)

  • Dandy,


    vProgramming languages have been around at least since the 19th century…so I’m afraid you have no excuses.

    Yes I do. I’m not a programmer. Never wanted to be a programmer. I’m a designer. But form and function go hand in hand, and the way the web is migrating toward so much function and interactivity at warp speed these days, well, it’s very hard to keep up. Some function, like Google Calendar, is easy to implement — even for designers. For other functions, I need to seek out smart young guys like you to help me get the job done. I’m just trying to be wise enough to know the difference, that’s all. Sort of like the Serenity Prayer. : )

  • John,

    I meant it isn’t an issue of age whether you can understand or follow the technology, etc. So the comments of us young smart guys or you youngsters isn’t relevant. Some of us and certainly many people doing this work may well be older than you. But I agree completely that if you’re not a software engineer or programmer or especially web developer, then you don’t need to know those details.

    We old programmers need you young whippersnapper smart designers to help create our web sites. :-)

  • Hey Waldo, I’m curious why you prefer iCalendar for syndication as opposed to RSS or Atom or JSON. If I had to choose one, I would go with RSS.

    On my plain vanilla XP test machine, neither Firefox nor MSIE knows what to make of The Hook’s ICS file link, but RSS is happily consumed. My fancy Mac knows to open it with iCal, however.

    I also believe it’s simpler to syndicate RSS with off-the-shelf publishing tools and feed readers (WordPress, etc), and probably has greater mashup potential as such, though not as great as a true web service.


  • iCalendar is created from the ground up with an event grammar. It’s designed to cross-reference locations and times, and provides all of the features necessary to do so, handling time zones, multiple occurrences, lengths, priority, free/busy participants, relationships between attendees, etc. Atom and RSS are designed for the concept of stories (blog entries, to be specific) — headlines and abstracts are the core elements. I wouldn’t know how to begin parsing an RSS feed of upcoming events. Every one would have different date, time, and location formats. If I wanted to display a list of every Friday-night event held at the Satellite Ballroom, I’d have a mess on my hands. With iCalendar? No problem.

    Different tools for different purposes, I guess.

  • iCalendar is better for calendar type event related stuff, and RSS is better for blog type streams. So you really want to use both. One for your basic blog stuff and one for the calendar part of your site. There may be addons for WordPress (and others) for iCalendar already, but I haven’t checked lately. So programming these shouldn’t be hard. And there are probably plug-ins for firefox and others too. I’ll bet since iCalendar is getting wide acceptance as the event standard, that vanilla firefox and others will handle it soon.

  • I thought I would point out two other local community calendars making use of both RSS feeds and iCal for the past 1 1/2 years:

    My Albemarle County School Board constituent calendar

    and the Charlottesville Tomorrow calendar on land use, transportation, and other local government and community meetings

    The latter calendar is a featured part of cVillain’s community calendar, and they must be using one of our feeds to make that mashup work. Very cool.

    Brian Wheeler

  • Very nice Brian. What tools did you use to create and add entries to your calendar? Steve mentioned the issue and I’m curious about the state of things myself.

  • This has been a helpful discussion. To summarize, if you want to share data among calendar applications, and your events have the aforementioned “event grammar”, iCalendar is the tool for the job.

    If you simply want to provide a list of hyperlinked event titles and dates for other people to read/republish, or even to “mashup” in some regard, RSS offers this capability.

  • The calendar program I implemented is from a company called Trumba. Everything is hosted on their site which is where I add the appointments, but their design interface allows you to create various interactive calendar widgets that can be integrated into blog sidebars and web pages. The beauty of that is my blogs and websites automatically pull the new content from Trumba and I don’t have to maintain any HTML. I also send weekly e-mail alerts [click here to subscribe to Cville Tomorrow’s weekly calendar e-mails] that contain the upcoming two weeks of events. Recipients can click a button in the e-mail to drop the appointment into Microsoft Outlook. Appointments can also be moved into personal calendar programs from the websites.
    Brian Wheeler

  • That Trumba thing worked for me. I really enjoy Charlottesville Tomorrow. It’s a great resource for the community. Sean Tubbs does a great job and I enjoy listening to Brian Wheeler on the radio.

  • Trumba has a lot of nice features– I’m working with it right now for a password-protected community calendar. At $99/month, though, it’s not the most affordable. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has found a less expensive competitor.

  • Steve,

    We have RSS on the new Hook web site in addition to the iCal. I’m subscribed to both, and they definitely serve very different purposes.

    It should be possible to add Atom, but in our case it probably wouldn’t accomplish anything that the RSS doesn’t already do. I’m not holding my breath for JSON, but the redundancy might start to get a little absurd at that point anyway.

    Also, I’ve done a little feed mashing using our iCal output and didn’t have any problems. My understanding is that most XML variants will work well for that sort of thing.

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