capsule review

Calendar Compilation

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If you’re a frequent user of Apple’s iCal calendar program, you know that one of its useful features is the ability to create multiple calendars that can be viewed individually or in any combination. You also likely know that you can publish these calendars over the Internet to a .Mac account or WebDAV server, which allows you and others to view them in a Web browser or to subscribe to them in any .ics-compatible calendar program.

The problem is that these features can’t be used together: If you want to publish multiple calendars to the Internet, you have to publish them as separate calendars—there’s no way to combine your iCal calendars into a single published calendar.

Luckily, you can get around this limitation using The Buddy System’s $15 iCalPublish 2.0 (   ). iCalPublish lets you publish a single, combined calendar, or any combination of iCal calendars, to your .Mac account or any WebDAV account.

Publishing a calendar with iCalPublish is a two-step process. You first need to use the program’s Servers tab to set up the server(s) to which you want to publish your calendar(s). If you’ve got a .Mac account and already have your .Mac account information entered in the .Mac pane of System Preferences, iCalPublish automatically sets up a .Mac server entry. If you’ve got your own WebDAV server (or use a service such as iCalShare ), you simply click the New button and then enter the appropriate URL, username, and password. Once you complete this initial setup, you only need to access the Servers tab to access server settings or to grab the URL for a published calendar (see below).

Once you’ve done the initial server setup, you create your new combined calendar in the Settings tab—a new calendar called “myCal” will be created by default—and decide which iCal calendars to include in it. iCalPublish provides a list of all your iCal calendars; simply check the box next to the ones you want to include. You aren’t limited to your own calendars—you can even include calendars to which you’re subscribed! You then choose the settings for each calendar included in the new combined calendar: Checking the P box next to a calendar will cause the names of events from that calendar to be prepended with a prefix you designate; this is useful for seeing which events came from which calendar. (You configure these prefixes in the Calendar Configurations window, described below.) Checking the S box includes subjects in calendar events; if you’re creating a public calendar and you don’t want others to see the details of your events, uncheck this. And checking the N box includes in the combined calendar any notes you’ve added to events in iCal.

iCalPublish main window

You also have a few other options that affect publication of the new calendar: The Auto publish option will automatically publish updated versions of your combined calendar when you change one of the source calendars (although iCalPublish must be running for these automatic updates to occur). You can also add a “TODAY” event to your published calendar. (Since this is an actual event, you need to publish your calendar once per day for the TODAY event to be updated to the current date.) Finally, you can choose to have the resulting combined calendar imported back into iCal; this feature can be useful for creating a combined local calendar, even if you never publish it.

If you click the Show Cal Configurations button, a drawer will appear listing all of your combined calendars—you can create and publish as many as you have iCal calendar combinations. The box at the bottom of the drawer shows all of your iCal calendars and lets you enter prefixes for each, to be used if you’ve enabled the Prepend prefix option for that calendar in any of your combined calendar(s).

Once you’ve got your combined calendar(s) set up, you simply click the Publish Now button in the main window to publish the currently selected calendar, or click the Publish All Queued button in the Calendar Configurations drawer to publish all combined calendars. Once a calendar is published, you can find to the calendar online by going to the Servers tab and clicking one of the four buttons: View iCal in Browser; Copy URL to Clipboard; Create Email Invitation; or Copy Webloc to Clipboard. (Note that these buttons are a bit unintuitive: First you have to select a calendar in the Calendar Configurations drawer, then you have to select the server name in the Servers tab; after doing both, the buttons will work for that calendar.)

Despite its otherwise excellent functionality, iCalPublish has a few quirks. I just mentioned one: I wish the calendar/URL buttons in the Server tab were instead found in the Calendar Configurations window, since they’re really associated with individual calendars, not servers. But there are a few others, as well. If you change the name of a published calendar, you need to manually remove the previous calendar from your server. (Thankfully, iCalPublish includes a couple ways to do this: A useful Server Scan feature finds all your published calendars and allows you to delete one with a click of a button; and a helpful menu item, Folders -> Show iDisk .calendars folder, lets you delete iDisk-published calendars manually.) Also relating to names, if you name a combined calendar with the same name as an existing iCal calendar, the iCal calendar will not be available for use in the combined calendar. Finally, I wish that when you combined calendars, the published calendars would retain the colors of the source calendars so you could, for example, see at a glance which events are work-related; unfortunately, all events in the combined calendar are the same color. (The “prepend” option is a useful workaround, though.)

Although these quirks may make iCalPublish a bit challenging for some users, it’s still a useful, one-of-a-kind utility for those of us who have more than one iCal calendar and want to publish them together. And the included ReadMe file is clear and understandable, which can’t be said for a lot of the software I review for Mac Gems.

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