Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bottom line:  Facebook provides a simple way to get your Facebook Events to sync to your personal calendar.
Hi everyone,
"Facebook Events" is becoming more and more popular as a way to plan and collaborate on upcoming events.  I ran across a neat feature today that I thought might be helpful.
At the bottom of a given FB event is an "export" button.  If you click it, you can download a file that can be imported into your calendar program.  Alternatively, you can choose to email the file to yourself.  If you're a Gmail user, the Gmail web interface will include a quick button to "add" the event you emailed to your personal calendar.
That's all fine and dandy, but here's something really cool.  When you click the "Export" button, at the bottom you'll see "Export all of your upcoming events" followed by a link that starts with "webcal://".  This is the same type of feed that we use to serve the UNMSOM Events calendar and the curricular calendars that are sync'd to MEDS (see previous blog posts and/or  SMRTpoint if you still haven't set this up!).  This means that you can "subscribe" to this feed in a variety of programs and have your FB events then show up with your normal calendars.  Here's how to set it up in a few different apps.
If you're a Mac user, using iCal, you can probably just click the webcal:// link.  iCal should open and prompt you to "Subscribe."  After you click "Subscribe" you can change how you want the name of the calendar to appear, and make sure you change the "Auto-Refresh" setting from "No" and set it to however often you'd like it to update.
If you'd like to subscribe in Google Calendar, go to Google Calendar, click the down arrow by the word "Add" in the bottom left (under "Other Calendars"), choose "Add by URL", and paste in the webcal:// link.  You can change the name by editing the calendar under "settings."  (NB: As we've mentioned, Google Calendar can be slow to sync subscribed calendars.  Whereas iCal and iPhone seem to update almost instantly, GCal may take up to 24 hrs to update after changes.)
Update:  It's come to my attention that Google Calendar doesn't properly display the event information, like iCal and the iPhone iCal do.  Just says "busy."  Looks like there are a few workarounds for this; if you're interested, shoot us an email.
To get the calendar on my iPhone / iPod Touch, I did things slightly different, but I'm sure there are a few ways to do it.  I got it to work by first emailing the Webcal link to myself, then accessing the email from my iPhone and copying the link starting at "" (not including the webcal:// part).  Then I went to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar -> Add Account -> Other -> Add Subscribed Calendar, and here I pasted in the link starting at "" (again, not including the "webcal://" -- for some reason didn't seem to work unless I skipped that part).
I'm sure there are a bunch of other programs that this will work with.  I tested it a bit and confirmed that a FB event invitation that I "Accepted" appeared instantly in iCal and on my iPhone, and if I went back and changed my status to "declined" (or whatever it is), the event disappeared, keeping my calendar uncluttered.  Events that you are "maybe attending" also show up.
The events are formatted well, too.  On my iPhone, the location, event notes, and "Invitation From" fields are all properly filled out and work as they should.
Anyway, just thought this was a neat way to integrate a feature that seems to be growing in popoularity.  If anyone has any problems or questions about any of this, we are more than happy to help!
See you soon,


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