There are so many excellent online calendar applications today that I feel like a kid in a candy shop.
We use two different online calendars here at Small Business Trends. One is for the weekly radio show. See Radio show calendar here; RSS feed here. The other is for my public appearances, including conferences and other events that I attend or play a role in, the university classes I teach, and public board meetings. Public events calendar here: RSS feed here.
For the official Small Business Trends Radio show calendar, we use the 30 Boxes calendar (image left). This calendar application features advanced social networking capabilities. You’re probably thinking, “Great buzz phrase but what does that mean?”
For starters, you can add tags (keywords) to each event entry so that others can search via keyword and find your events. With 30 Boxes you can add in content from other sources, such as your blog headlines and Flickr photos. You can add your vcard — electronic business card — to your calendar. It even offers a portable identity card that can be identified on some blogs when you leave a comment. You can output your calendar entries to other sites; for example, the Radio show feature box at the top of this page contains an excerpt from our 30 Boxes calendar.
For all these impressive features, I am not sold on 30 Boxes as a calendar for business usage. It is a tad too geeky and seems to get sidetracked on the social networking elements. For instance, it calls the user’s profile a “Buddy” page, an incongruous term for a business calendar. You cannot change the display features of your calendar much. The ability to brand the calendar to your company “look” is limited. For instance, it displays a logo or photograph, but at a nearly microscopic size. Plus it only lets me log in from the Firefox browser and not Internet Explorer — what’s up with that?
That said, I do think 30 Boxes is creative and holds promise as a supernet that could possibly pull together all the disparate presences we seem to have these days on multiple social networking sites. But that’s a different goal from a business calendar.
For my public event calendar I use RSS Calendar. I started using it last year, when there were fewer calendar choices. RSS Calendar does not have a tremendous number of social networking features, and that very simplicity makes it user friendly. It allows for people to actually RSVP to events, even though I do not use that particular feature.
It outputs multiple RSS feeds and outputs a calendar widget that you can tailor by size. You can display a simple list of events in chronological order, which for my public purposes works well (see image at right). It allows some limited customization of the display.
Other calendar applications have more bells and whistles. But for pure simplicity and for public events, RSS Calendar seems streamlined. Compared with 30 Boxes, I find I spend much less time entering a calendar event; I can quickly export it to my personal Outlook calendar so that I don’t have to manually enter it in two different calendars; and the calendar display is not nearly as confusing to readers.
I have looked at other calendar applications, such as the Google calendar and Calendar Hub, but so far have found nothing compelling enough to make me switch. Anyone with calendar recommendations, please leave a comment below.