Implementing ICS/ICAL to sync calendars with the event schedule in Open Event Webapp

As an end result, we want to provide a button to the user which will export the whole data of the event schedule to an ICS file and present it to the user for download after clicking the button. The whole work regarding the feature can be seen here.

Instead of implementing the whole specification ourselves which would be much tougher and time-consuming, we looked for some good open source libraries to do a bit of heavy lifting for us. After searching exhaustively for the solution, we came across this library which seemed appropriate for the job. The heart of the library is a function which takes in an object which contains information about the session. It expects information about the start and end time, subject, description and location of the session. Here is an excerpt from the function. The whole file can be seen here

var addEvent = function (session) {
 var calendarEvent = [
   'BEGIN:VEVENT',
   'UID:' + session.uid,
   'CLASS:PUBLIC',
   'DESCRIPTION:' + session.description,
   'DTSTART;VALUE=DATETIME:' + session.begin,
   'DTEND;VALUE=DATE:' + session.stop,
   'LOCATION:' + session.location,
   'SUMMARY;LANGUAGE=en-us:' + session.subject,
   'TRANSP:TRANSPARENT',
   'END:VEVENT'
 ];
 calendarEvents.push(calendarEvent);
};

We need to call the above function for every session in the event schedule. In the schedule template file, we have the jsonData object available which contain all the information about the event. It contains a field called timeList which contains the chronological order of the different sessions taking place throughout the events. The structure of that sub-object is something like this.

[{'slug': '2017-03-20', 'times': {'caption' : '09:00-09:30', 'sessions': [{'title': 'Welcome', 'description': 'Opening of the event', 'start': '09:00', 'end': '09:30'}]}]

So, we define a function for iterating through every session in the above object and adding it to the calendar. We can use most of the attributes directly but have to modify the date and time fields of the session to an appropriate format before adding it. The specification expects time in the ISO 8601 Format. You can read more about the specification here. For eg – If the date is 2017-03-20 and the time is 09:30 then it should be written as 20170320T093000. Here is some part of the function here

function exportICS() {
 var scheduleArr = {{{json timeList}}};
 // Helper functions for converting time to ISO 8601 Format
 function removeDashFromDate(date) {
   return date.replace(/-/g, '');
 }
 function removeColonFromTime(time) {
   return time.replace(/:/g, '');
 }
 // Iteration through the object and adding every session to the calendar
 scheduleArr.forEach(function(scheduleDay) {
   var date = removeDashFromDate(scheduleDay.slug);
   scheduleDay.times.forEach(function(time) {
     time.sessions.forEach(function(session) {
       var sessObj = {};
       sessObj.begin = date + 'T' + removeColonFromTime(session.start) + '00';
       sessObj.stop = date + 'T' + removeColonFromTime(session.end) + '00';
       sessObj.subject = session.title;
       sessObj.description = session.description;
       sessObj.location = session.location;
       cal.addEvent(sessObj);
     });
   });
 });
 cal.download('calendar', 'ics', false); // Download the ics file of the calendar
}

After defining the function, we add a button for starting the download of the whole schedule of the event. On clicking, we call the function which initiates the download after all the sessions of the event have been added.

<span class="schedule-download">
 <button type="button" class="btn btn-default export-schedule"><i class="fa fa-calendar" aria-hidden="true"></i></button>
</span>

$('.export-schedule').click(function() {
 exportICS();
});

Here is the export schedule button

65203af9-3962-4ab5-9655-3250bf2253a0.png

This is the download pop-up of the ICS file of the event.

Screenshot from 2017-08-10 21-56-16.png

After importing it in the Google calendar

Screenshot from 2017-08-10 23-01-22.png

References