Fixing the EM London calendar

Hi @tloubani,

I am working with the department administrators to have them update google calendars which then update the academic calendar on the EM london website. They are all on board and I’m ready to have the department start using the calendar except for a few glitches that I am not tech-savvy enough to fix.

  1. When I delete events on the google calendars they stay on the Master Calendar/Academic calendar visible on EM London. Do you know how to fix this?

  2. The EM London calendar seems to be posting things in a different time zone from the google calendars. Is there a way to stop this?

I hope my explanation of these issues makes sense. Please let me know if this makes sense. I will also send you google calendar links to all these calendars in case that helps you troubleshoot the problems. Let me know if you have questions about these issues or what I’m trying to do.


I guess just one quick thing. It sounds like you’re using two different
tools, and I’m trying to figure out what the advantage is.

Other than history, why is google involved at all in this?

If we really should keep using the google calendars, then I’ll look more
closely at the issues you mentioned. @ajones: is there any particular advantage to Google calendars in this case?

tarek : )

I’m using google mainly because that’s what I know how to use. I don’t know if using something else would have links that people can add into their personal calendars, but i know the residents like to have the calendar update directly into their device and we’ve done that with google in the past.

I did manage to fix the time zone issue. I have not been able to fix the refreshing/syncing issue - working on it now.

If there is a better option for group calendars I’m willing to discuss it. The website is now your baby so if you would prefer something different now is the time to make that change.


OK, I understand.

I guess the follow-up questions are:

  1. How is the calendar link given to residents?
  2. Is it sufficient to simply receive an ICAL/WEBCAL address for most cases?

Problems with current Drupal events

  1. As shown in this image, the information transfer is definitely fucked up and at present the calendar from Drupal is largely unusable as a standalone.

  2. Details: Title is off; details are weird.

  3. I can’t find an ICAL / ICS link that gets all events. Instead, they only get a year or a month. (e.g., webcal:// or webcal://

Proposed solution

  1. TAREK - will look to see how there can be an easy, single link for the calendar
  2. TAREK / CHANTAL - check to see if entering the events “properly” changes things.
  3. When complete, move over to Drupal-only.


  • We can make it so that every week the top bar thing is automatically rotated
  • We don’t depend on Google


  • Maybe people really like google.

What are your thoughts, @cforristal ?

My personal feelings (which may or may not be how others feel) is that I am used to google, that’s what I already use as my primary calendar and it syncs well with ical which I also use. Therefore, using google feels natural to me. Also, the fact that with Drupal you need to re-upload the calendar to your personal device regularly seems a bit of a pain (if I am understanding it correctly), whereas with google it updates regularly, even when the schedule changes last minute.

If we stick to google, thing are already almost in place for this. With google, the calendar that appears on emlondon is complete with all the different department calendars so people can look at it when they need to as a reference. I would send out separate links (URL and ICAL) for the different calendars to the department so people can choose which events they want to appear on their personal devices (ie. just Grand Rounds, or Reserach, or EMA, or Resident teaching). This ability to have access to individual calendars on your personal device is convenient, instead of having a single link which gives them ALL department events and overwhelms their calendar. For example, with the individual links staff can choose to have only EMA and Grand Rounds updates on their personal calendar while residents may choose to have Resident Teaching, Grand Rounds and Research updates.

Ultimately I feel like google gives us a bit more flexibility than Drupal, and my only concern remains that the Google Calendar (master calendar) on does not delete events as we delete them off the google calendars. Otherwise it updates every few hours and works quite well.

I’m still willing to try Drupal - again I’m just unfamiliar with it and don’t know if I’d have the same abilities with it.

How do you subscribe to the EML calendar within google?

This would be true with any calendar system, including this one.

I think google’s familiarity is a potent factor, however if users are subscribing with a link you send, then the only users who have to accommodate are administrative staff, which is easier.

The key advantage of the drupal thing is high automation. For example, this scenario becomes possible:

  1. Sue enters the event into the calendar in Drupal. She attaches the poster, say.
  2. The calendar automatically posts the “top bar” every week with the relevant event.
  3. A day (or two) before rounds, all consultants / residents / whatever are automatically emailed a reminder of rounds

The abilities will be superior. But again, the real key will be figuring out usability for end-users and (to a smaller extent) admin staff.

I think it’s worth trying, and we can just revert as needed if it doesn’t work. As above, we’re a few steps away from making this work…

tarek : )

OK, one step further, here’s a sample unified calendar that has all items. This can easily be broken down into the various categories. @cforristal: Can you try adding this to your google to see if it is add-able in the same way? The other issues remain, but are easy enough to fix…

tarek : )

I don’t see the link… But I’m ready to try!


It’s a test link, so obviously issues exist. I’m just trying to dissect what’s happening now to figure out how it works.

So yes, I can add it to my ical and through that it synced to the google calendar. Everything is at the correct time, but the event titles, as you know, are jibberish.

OK, here’s what I’ve done:

  1. I made it so that when events disappear from Google, they will be deleted. This was found as the setting “Delete non-existent nodes” here:

  2. I fixed the title so it’s not gibberish in the ical importer (re-synchronize to see it)

At this point, the only thing missing is location for events, which I’ll see if I can figure out. If so, then really it doesn’t matter at all how the events are entered, and we can continue with gcal for now if that’s easier for people. We’ll have all the same benefits of being able to highly automate and the bug you noticed will be gone.

@cforristal: Could you confirm that the bugs you reported are gone now?

tarek: )

The titles are still jibberish despite me refreshing. Maybe resend the link to see if the bug is fixed?

As for the deleted items I need to wait a bit for the emlondon calendar to refresh which sometimes takes an hour. I’ll let you know later if that seems fixed.

The add/delete function is now working fine. I will send out google links to the administrators today so that they can start updating the calendars. Once they have had time to start updating and we’re used to things on our end I’ll roll out the links to the staff through this forum.

Wait a sec…

Are the staff not already using it? The biggest strength of continuing with G Cal would be that everybody else is already using it. If they aren’t already, then I would advocate giving a serious look to doing it on Drupal’s native system, which will do everything more directly and won’t require a google account for administrators.

tarek : )

The royal college residents are already using the google calendars, but since Dr. Jones stopped working on the website I created new calendars since staff were previously using them and I was going to continue that. They would need to add a new link as his old calendar & links are disabled.

I agree if you would much prefer to change to Drupal, now is the time. I had gotten admin on board for updating the google calendars, but we can still change it.

I killed the EML Google apps account and hence the calendars. Chantal recreated them in her account only because the housestaff still use them (as do I).

Ultimately, as long as whatever you choose to use is ICS compliant, I don’t care where the data lives.

Not sure if that helps you at all.


@ajones: Yes, I think this is the conclusion that I arrived to as well. Thank you for clarifyin.

@cforristal: It sounds as though there’s a chance here to pick the “right” solution as there is a natural break. It doesn’t make sense to me to commit to Google calendars for another generation when literally zero people are currently using them, especially since it’s a long-term dependency that is easy to avoid.

As @ajones noted, so long as it’s ICS compliant (which it is), we’re good to go.

I’ll keep the google calendar going for the residents until we have the new drupal calendar ready to go. Otherwise let’s make the change to drupal!

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Hi @cforristal,

I’m just documenting what I’ve done in preparation for the transition. Please tell me if there’s anything you think I’ve done wrong. For now, nothing has changed in the way things work.

  1. I got rid of the grand rounds and research calendars. As far as I can tell, these are common events that are useful to all members of the ED. As such, I have collapsed them into the general calendar, which should cover “general, academic and social events in the division of emergency medicine”.

  2. I’ve added a location field

More to come…

I think there are two possible ways we can approach the calendars. One is to collapse most of the calendars down into one general calendar. The second option is to have several individual calendars that all appear on the master calendar on emlondon.

Personally I prefer having several individual calendars. This is more difficult from an administration point of view, but is nice for members of the department because they can select the individual calendars they would like to have visible on their personal device, instead of being overwhelmed with all the department events. The individual calendars that I propose are:

-Grand Rounds
-Undergrad Teaching
-Resident Events (joint CCFP & FRCP, Simulation)
-Royal College Residents
-Research (for conference dates and reserach division meetings)
-General EM (for ACLS, dep. events, other meetings)

If anyone thinks splitting these calendars more or less would be of benefit I’m open to suggestions. This was just my thought so people can choose the calendars applicable to them to add to their personal devices and all of these will be visible on the emlondon website for general reference as needed.