When I use WordPress as the platform for a community group’s website the first major obstacle that I come up against is calendar and event management. Things are handled differently depending on whether you are self-hosting WordPress or if you opt for the (attractive) option of (nearly) free hosting at WordPress.com.
Up until recently the limited options at WordPress.com have made me lean towards self-hosted solutions – see my old Scout group 2nd Abbotsford Port Neptune for example. There I setup Google Apps for the group and it is easy enough to drop the calendar code in to a WordPress page and thereby have easy access to even a multiple calendar solution.
My latest site wrestling with the calendar issue is for my current Scout group – 9th Brunswick Scouts. Hosted at WordPress.com, there has not been an easy way (until now) to show a GAFYD calendar. As you can see (at the time of writing) what I’ve done is use the Google Sites feature to create a page that I could then embed the calendar code in. On a subdomain if you are curious. This solution does get the job done, but doesn’t look very good (since it is hard to get a Google Sites page to match the look & feel of your WordPress site.)
Anyway, that was then and this, as they say, is now. Soon I will be upgrading 9th Brunswick to natively embed a GAFYD Google calendar – using the feature newly enabled by WordPress.
Since I had never had any success looking for more native solutions (rather than rely on Google Calendar in some form or other) this is how I have done things to date. Now, however, there are options!
An old (and one I had never found) WordPress plugin has been receiving some attention of late : Events Manager is self-described as a “wordpress event registration plugin freely available on wordpress.org. Events, bookings, calendars, locations and lots more.”
While free, Events Manager does carry a paid support option if you wish to either support the plugin or get support yourself. Once paid, you are upgraded to the ‘Pro’ version which enables you to accept PayPal payments for events.
While Events Manager was not being actively maintained (though it is now) a competitor sprang up based on the same open source code. This plugin is Events Manager Extended. At this time it remains both open source and completely free to use.
Both of these plugins offer the ability for external users to subscribe to the calendars – which is the main feature I look for when looking to provide a calendar for a community group.
I’d love to know if you’ve used either of these and what your experience has been. If I get time I do plan to test them out myself and see if they really can offer the features I need.
So if you are looking for calendar and event management on WordPress sites there are now some real choices to make!