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What is WebCalendar?
WebCalendar is an open-source, PHP-based online calendar solution designed to provide single-user, multi-user, or event calendar functionality. Available as a free download, Web Calendar is also offered by many providers as a part of their hosting packages.
You’ve purchased and set up your website. You’ve given your staff email accounts and logins, set up server access as necessary, and installed and configured your virtual storefront. You’re ready to collaborate and conduct business online, right? Well, nearly.
What about coordinating the schedules of your staff (some of whom may be in far-flung locations, the virtual office growing as it is)? What about setting up event calendars for customers and other visitors to your site? What about planning your own schedule as you run your successful small business?
Chances are, you need a calendar app for your Web server. One of the most popular open-source solutions is the simply-named but feature-rich WebCalendar. This application, built using the PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) scripting language, gives you the ability to create personal, multi-user and public event calendars for a variety of purposes. It’s available as a free download, but is also offered as a one-click install by many hosting providers via installers such as Fantastico or Softaculous.
WebCalendar is separate from your email system, but can be integrated to keep registered staff members notified with email reminders (similar to Google Calendar). The interface is rather spartan, but WebCalendar lets you select from a wide range of options, including holidays, automated updates via database, and adding custom content.
If used as an event calendar, the application can be set to send email reminders and updates to any registered user who has signed up for an event (useful for keeping your customers in the loop with regard to special events and promotions).
Key Features of WebCalendar
- Front-end written in validated XHTML and CSS
- Many users can access system at one time
- Complete internationalization, and currently localized to 30 languages: Basque, Bulgarian, Chinese (Big5 and GB2312), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Holo, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Iberian and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Welsh
- System automatically detects the language preference of the user based on the browser settings
- Calendars viewable by year, month, week, or day
- View other user calendars (subject to access permissions)
- View multiple calendar layers at the same time (example: several different user calendars), with color coding and filtering
- Complete user management
- Complere event management
- Support for repeating events, with override and exception handling
- User-specified custom data fields in events
- Customizable color themes
- Display time in 12-hour or 24-hour format, with user specific options
- Option to start week on Monday or Sunday
- Online help documentation and FAQs
- Autmoatically checks new events for scheduling conflicts
- Email reminders for upcoming events
- Email notifications for event updates or new events.
- Complete data export of events to iCalendar, vCalendar or Palm.
- Import event data from iCalendar, vCalendar or Palm
- Optional “General Access” view makes calendar viewable to non-logged in users
- Users can make their calendar available publicly to anyone with an iCalendar-compliant calendar program (such as Apple’s iCal, Mozilla Calendar or Sunbird)
- Public display of free/busy schedules in the standard iCalendar format
- Create an RSS feed of calendar events
- Subscribe to “remote” calendars (hosted elsewhere on the net) in either iCalendar or hCalendar formats (WebCalendar 1.1+)
- User authentication: Web-based, HTTP, LDAP or NIS
Uses for WebCalendar
- Personal schedule management system
- Organization-wide schedule management system
- Public events schedule, viewable by anyone
- A server-side calendar application that users connect to from a wide variety of client apps.
Alternatives to WebCalendar
There a huge number of calendaring application available, so there is a lot of competition in this area. Two exceptionally notable alternatives to WebCalendar are Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar.
Both Outlook and Google Calendar have tight integration to an email system, which has a number of advantages. However, WebCalendar can also be connected with an email server. So if you’re willing to put in a little work to get things set up, you can have this feature as well.
Being commercial projects with lots of users, Outlook and Google Calendar both appear much “slicker” and more user friendly than WebCalendar. But that comes at cost. Outlook requires a purchase, and Google calendar is ad-driven.
Also, if you want to sync Outlook events across many devices, you will need to use a Microsoft Exchange Server, or their subscription based Cloud service. Google Apps is only free for individuals, if you want to set up an organizational account, this also cost money. Moreover, if you use Google Apps or Microsoft’s cloud-based subscription service, all of your data is on someone else’s computer.
If you want to set up your own, Free and Open Source calendar server for yourself or your organization, WebCalendar is a good choice.
In order to run WebCalendar successfully on your server, you will need not only PHP, but Apache Web Server and MySQL database support. These applications are a standard part of most Linux servers, but are also available in versions for Windows, so you should be able to take advantage of WebCalendar regardless of your preferred hosting platform. Check with your host for full details.