What's the right software to maintain and display a calendar of relatively infrequent future events?
March 22, 2009 11:49 AM   Subscribe

What's the right software to maintain and display a calendar of relatively infrequent future events, as well as blog-like news postings? I maintain a website for specialists in my field of mathematics, and one section consists of announcements for upcoming and recent conferences. Another is for news announcements: a basic blog-style list of entries. Both are currently run by our 7-year-old Movable Type installation, in combination with a good bit of chewing gum and baling twine. I'd like to redesign the whole schmear, including the back end. Is wordpress (plus more gum and twine) the right solution? Is there some other system that makes more sense?


Here's the current setup, which hasn't changed since launch in 2002: Movable Type runs two blogs: "News" and "Conferences". The former is your basic blog, except that we only show one entry on the front page, and generally have only an entry a month or so.

Each entry in "Conferences" is added when we learn about it, and post-dated to the first day of the conference. This system works ok, since most conferences are just a day or two, but there are some that are a week, month, or even a semester long, and this causes problems. When first posted, they're in an "upcoming" category that displays in one place, then changed by hand to a "past" category that shows up in another place when they're past. Drawback: I often forget to change the category, which makes me look stupid. We average about 3 conferences a month, though they tend to cluster in March, June, and October. Lead time is up to a year.

I'd like to redesign and bring it up to web-2.whateverwe'reuptonow snuff, both in front and behind. Wordpress seems to be the default these days. I could do the same acrobatics to get the conferences into wordpress, I guess, but it sure seems like there should be a better way. Do you know of one?

I run this out of my pocket and in my free time, so free and drop-in solutions are best, but if you've got good ideas, lay 'em on me.
posted by gleuschk to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Best answer: Drupal plus the Calendar and Views modules might be what you are looking for. More work to set up, but almost limitless options.
posted by Nothing at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: If you really want to Web-2.0-ify this shizzle, do this: move into a "semantic web" CMS like Semantic Mediawiki, Drupal 7.0 (not released yet), or Drupal 6.0 with Content Construction Kit module. There's probably some version of Wordpress like this, I'm not sure.

A semantic web CMS will allow you to add custom fields to the conference blog postings: fields like event date, location, et cetera. (Many CMSs have some measure of functionality around this but a semantic web CMS is totally built around that sort of thing.)

Next you need to create a special page in PHP (or whatever the server-side language of your CMS is) that exports the data for all of your conference postings as a JSON array. (If you know any programming at all, this is much easier than it sounds - don't be intimidated.)

Finally, a little bit of javascript nipping and tucking will hook up your JSON output to one or more of the Exhibit browser database example applications, which will be able to display various sorted tables of the conferences, display a timeline with upcoming conferences, and show the location of a group of conferences on Google Maps.

If you can pull off what I'm describing above (which really is not anything you should be intimidated by if you do your own web stuff already, believe me) not only will it involve all free software but it will actually be much more Web-2.0-ish than most things you could pay for.
posted by XMLicious at 1:55 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: One option to consider is upgrading to the latest version of Movable Type. You can now do much more sophisticated things with the templating language, including date comparisons, and you could easily eliminate the need for manual re-categorizing. You may also find that other features of modern MT will suit your needs as far as redesigning, and it's likely you can eliminate much if not all of the GumTwine. Worth an experimental download and install, at least.
posted by staggernation at 4:20 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: Wordpress has a plugin called Gig Press that is designed for bands, but I would assume that it can also work for any sort of scheduling needs.
posted by theichibun at 5:51 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: Do a search on the word "events" in the WordPress plugins directory and you'll find several possibilities for you. GigPress is good, but there are others.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:17 PM on March 22, 2009

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