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Introducing Low Events

9 July 2012 3 comments

We’ve all been there. When discussing a new site with a client, event listings are regularly part of the brief. Although seemingly simple, I found creating events in ExpressionEngine always is somewhat cumbersome. Existing solutions, whether native or in the third party area, always had some drawbacks for me. The more solutions I tried, the more I was feeling an itch.

Going native

When creating events in ExpressionEngine natively, you can either use the Entry and Expiration dates for Start and End dates. However, I prefer to use those purely for publishing purposes: whether an entry is published on the site or not. Or you can use two custom date fields, but that usually means using some PHP in your templates (or just the Query module if you’re lucky) to filter the entries. Both native solutions also suffer from DST, a chronic disease that ExpressionEngine has suffered from since the early days, and is bound to keep you busy doing support at least twice a year.

Third party

As for third party solutions, there are two that could help. First of all, there’s EEvent Helper. This add-on helps you out by setting native date fields for you, so actually, it falls back to the native method of doing events. Then there’s Solspace Calendar, a very powerful and flexible add-on. And that’s exactly what’s wrong with it. Multiple calendars with different timezones, complex rules for recurring events, import/export ICS data; this all just seemed overkill to me most of the time.

Rolling my own

So, having tried and tested these ways of doing events, I needed something in the middle. Something more user friendly and flexible than the native method, without getting obtuse. I asked some clients about their opinion, which led me to a list of ideas:

  • An entry is an event and an event is an entry. Simple as that.
  • Don’t bother with recurring events. See previous point.
  • Don’t bother with localization, apart from translations. The date/time entered is the date/time displayed. Always.
  • No DST. See previous point.
  • The fieldtype to enter start and end dates should be intuitive and user friendly.
  • Template tags should be intuitive and make sense.

The result of this list is Low Events.

Low Events

The Low Events fieldtype is inspired by Google Calendar’s date/time picker. I love the way it suggests times for you, shows duration and is smart enough to know when the date you entered is invalid. In your templates, the fieldtype gives you lots of variables to work with to display the dates just the way you want.

The Low Events template tags all center around the idea that you’re either showing upcoming events (omitting passed ones), or showing events per year, month or day (including passed ones). Other tags like the Archive or Calendar tag, will help you link to specific dates.

Personally, I think this concept works pretty darn well, and I hope the ExpressionEngine community thinks so too. Low Events is available here now for 30 euros, and on Devot:ee for 40 US dollars.

Comments

  1. Derek Hogue 9 July 2012 at 16:09

    Very nice Low. One thing which I think would be a good feature-match to EEvent Helper is the option to set the entry’s start date to match the fieldtype’s start date, simply for the benefit of the client when looking through the entries list in EE. It might be confusing for some to look for an event which they know is on July 14th, and seeing an Entry Date of June 10th, for example.

  2. Lodewijk Schutte 9 July 2012 at 16:25

    Thanks Derek. I know it may be a matter of opinion, but like keeping the entry date as a publish date; something more meta than actual content, which is what I reckon the start/end dates are. I actually think it’s more confusing to have the entry date as the actual publish date in some cases and something else in other cases.

  3. Todd Kersey 11 July 2012 at 00:30

    Thanks for this solution Low! Clients seem to get too confused with the Solspace Calendar and seem to create a new entry for each event because they do not understand the recurring options and rules.  This add-on sounds like a good solution for them.

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