Merging Church Calendars in With Your Personal Computer Calendar

WARNING!  If you are not very computer savvy, it’s best to avoid this topic altogether!

Two TGOC Calendars

TGOC maintains two public calendars. You can see these by simply going to the church’s web site, http://transfiguration.org.  Select Events>>Parish Events to see the Transfiguration Parish Events calendar, or select Events>>Orthodox Calendar to see the calendar of Scripture Readings and Saint Commemorations.  The latter is actually taken from the Greek Archdiocese of North America’s 2009-2010 Planner.

If you use computers constantly, and maintain a personal calendar on your computer in some form or fashion, then you might want to blend the church calendars in with yours.  Since there are innumerable computer calendar programs, it would be impractical to try to explain in great detail how each person should go about blending the church’s calendars in with their particular calendar program.

But! There is hope!

Standards have emerged for this sort of thing, and as long as your computer program can import a calendar via one of the standard approaches, you at least have the potential of succeeding at this.

Alternative #1, Use the ICAL / ICS Import Method

Virtually all “web-based” calendars, and most calendar programs on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS-X computers are designed to “import” a remote calendar using the “ICAL” or “ICS” approach. I recommend this approach if your calendar program supports it.

Follow your calendar’s instructions on importing calendars.  When it prompts you to specify a file or link (“URL”), cut-and-paste the the links below into your calendar program (one at a time as separate imports, that is).  Since the links are so long, it may be easiest to just right click each link. Then, when the little menu pops up, select “Copy Shortcut”. That’s what Microsoft Internet Explorer calls it.  Select “Copy Link Address” if you use Google Chrome, or “Copy Link Location” if you use Firefox.  Then paste the link as you normally would.

To get more alternatives, more explanations, and more insight into the Greek Archdiocese 2009-2010 Planner, please visit this link: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/youth/planner2009/

Advanced Question:  What’s the difference between using the links above VS. just downloading and importing the basic.ics file?

I’m glad you asked.  Using the links is like “subscribing” to the church’s calendars’ changes and updates.  Downloading and importing the file is like taking a one-time snapshot of the church’s calendars. Google calendar definitely supports subscription to other calendars.

The snapshot approach is fine for the Scripture Readings and Saint Commemorations calendar because it only changes on an annual basis, but taking a snapshot is not a good approach for parish events since they are being updated constantly.  The TGOC church office only populates many of the upcoming events one or two months at most in advance.  So, again, if your calendar program supports it, try to use the “link” or “subscription” approach rather than just downloading and importing the ICS file.

Alternative #2, Use RSS Feeds

Another approach is to take the “raw” information from the calendars via something called an RSS Feed.  Many browsers have RSS feed support built into them.

To get an RSS feed of the TGOC Parish Events calendar, go to the church web site at http://transfiguration.org.  Then select Events>>Parish Events.  Scroll to the very bottom of the page.  Below the calendar are three, thin, colored rectangles.  The one on the left is orange and says “XML” in white letters.  Click on that.

If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, you will be invited to subscribe to that calendar’s RSS feed.  If you are using Google Chrome, it will just throw a mess on your screen.   I will figure out how you’d subscribe to an RSS feed in Google Chrome and let you know.

Again, I cannot get into too much more nitty gritty detail in this short space, but if you have some computer agility, and want to try, I hope this gives you a few helpful pointers with which to get started.