Using iCal feeds to synchronize multiple calendar systems

iCal feeds are a great way to move calendar information back and forth between Finalsite and other software, such as Outlook, Google Calendar and Apple iCal. An iCal feed is essentially nothing more than a web address, or URL. By copying that URL from Finalsite to your own calendar (or vice-versa), the schedule items you enter into one system can be shared with and displayed on another system.

It's important to distinguish between incoming and outgoing iCal feeds. Incoming feeds originate from outside Finalsite, and allow your Finalsite calendars to display information entered into Outlook, Google Calendars, etc. Outgoing feeds are just the opposite: these are feeds generated by Finalsite that you can enter into an outside system so that the events in your Finalsite calendars can be displayed elsewhere.

Outgoing feeds

You can find an outgoing feed from a Finalsite calendar by opening that calendar in Calendar Manager:

or by viewing the calendar on the site and clicking the "Calendar Export" icon to bring up the feed menu, and selecting "iCal Feed:"

From the Calendar Feeds window, you can choose what information on the current calendar you wish to send to your outside calendar software:

Click the green "ICAL" button corresponding to the calendar you want to export. You'll see a list of custom iCal feed options allowing you to pick a feed URL that's tailored to the software you want to use. If you don't see your calendar software listed, select "Get Standard iCal URL," otherwise, choose the option that matches the calendar software you use.

Using either method, you'll end up with a URL that can be pasted into your external calendar software. After you have pasted this URL into Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal or other calendar software, the events that you have entered into Finalsite will be displayed there. Any edits you make to your Finalsite calendar will be automatically updated in your external software.

 

Setting the Date Range for an Outgoing feed

You can also set the date range for for an iCal feed, which controls how far into the past or into the future the feed will look on the specified calendar to find events to publish. This can be set for each individual calendar in the "Settings" tab of Calendar Manager.

For example, setting the date range to 3 months in the future and 0 days in the past will result in the iCal feed displaying events from today to 90 days out.

 

Incoming feeds

To display events from another calendar source on your Finalsite calendar, first find the iCal URL from your calendar software. Copy the URL to your clipboard, then open up Calendar Manager in Finalsite. Find the calendar you wish to display events from your outside source, and click on the "Import" tab. Under "Import Calendar Events," select the "URL" radio button. Paste the feed URL you copied earlier into the field that appears.

Click the "Import Calendar Events" button. The events from your external calendar will now appear on your Finalsite calendar. An import action is one-time only - changes you make on the external calendar will not be automatically synchronized with your Finalsite calendar.

Note: once you have imported events from an iCal feed to a Finalsite calendar, you will not be able to remove them en masse. To remove the events, you would have to either delete the calendar from Finalsite, or delete the source calendar in your external calendar software.

 

To display 'live' calendar events from an external iCal feed, create a new calendar in Calendar Manager, and set the Calendar Type dropdown to "Live iCal." Paste the iCal feed URL into the "Live URL" field. 

 

With this calendar type, events that are edited on the external calendar system will be regularly synched with Calendar Manager. 

Refresh times for incoming feeds

The frequency with which an incoming iCal feed updates with new data depends on the size of the calendar being synchronized (in other words, how many events have been created on that calendar).

The sync rates are:

Calendar Size
Sync rate
0 - 500 kilobytes hourly
500 kilobytes - 1.5 megabyte nightly
> 1.5 megabyte manual-only

Each individual calendar event is fairly small, so it would take a particularly packed calendar to reach even 500 kb. Most calendars, therefore, will update on an hourly basis. A very busy calendar should update once per day.

iCal feeds only update when changes are made to the associated calendar. The Finalsite software checks incoming feeds for new data according to the sync rate of the calendar, so changes made in an external source should update a Finalsite calendar in that time range. You can also force a refresh by clicking the "Update" button for a specific calendar that has associated incoming feeds.

Setting the Date Range for an Incoming feed

Use your external calendar software to control the date range for an incoming feed.

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