Tutorial: Connecting to other Calendar Programs
Please note that the features described on this page are only available to subscribers. You can try them out for a week by clicking the button “Start free trial” on the “Synchronization” page.
SuperSaaS offers different ways to connect to other programs:
- You can use the free/busy information in a Google calendar to indicate your availability in SuperSaaS
- You can publish a SuperSaaS schedule for display in a calendar program such as Outlook or Google Calendar
- You can let your SuperSaaS availability depend on the availability of your Outlook Calendar by using a third party sync program
- If you need more advanced synchronization capabilities and are a programmer then there is an Application Programming Interface available. See the API documentation for more information.
1. Let your SuperSaaS availability depend on your Google Calendar
If you link a Google Calendar to a SuperSaaS schedule then appointments in your Google calendar will show up as unavailable periods on your SuperSaaS schedule. This way, customers can only book when both your personal calendar and your general opening hours allow them to. Only the free / busy information will be synchronized, so your customers will not see any of the details from your personal appointments. Using this type of Google synchronization can also be useful when you want to define complex opening hours.
If you would like the availability of your SuperSaaS schedule depend on another calendar program than Google calendar then please refer to the work-around in the trouble shooting section in this tutorial.
These are the steps needed to set up synchronization:
- In your Google calendar, click on the name of the calendar you would like to synchronize and click on the dropdown arrow that appears.
- Choose “Share this calendar”
- Select “Make this calendar public” and “Share only my free busy information”
- Click on calendar details and copy the calendar ID that shows under “Calendar Address”, as shown in the image. If you have only one Google Calendar the ID is usually equal to your email address.
- On you SuperSaaS dashboard click on “Supervise” next to the calendar you would like to synchronize. On the “Synchronize” tab you can now fill out the calendar ID. If you want to still be able to make appointments yourself during the time the Google calendar indicates a busy time then check the box “Allow the administrator to ignore time constraints”. The software will verify the connection when you click “Save changes”, if there are no errors then the link was successful.
Once this is set up the SuperSaaS system will regularly check your Google Calendar for updates. The frequency with which the availability information from Google calendar is updated depends on how often your schedule is accessed. Whenever someone uses your schedule the system evaluates whether our copy of your information is older than 15 minutes, and if it is it will tell another server to update our copy. This update process can take a few seconds so it can take a second page refresh to actually see the updated information. This should not be a problem for users since they always use more than one page before they can make a booking. But if you are checking your schedule yourself and already have the window open then you may need to navigate around for a few pages to see the update. Updates are retrieved up to 6 months into the future so you may want to ensure your users cannot book further in advance.
If you want to put an appointment in your Google calendar that you don’t want to show up as unavailable time in SuperSaaS you can click “Edit event details” in Google Calendar and select the option “Show me as: Available”. Another way the synchronization can be useful is if you have very complex opening hours that can be defined more easily with the flexible Google Calendar options than with SuperSaaS’ built in facilities.
At the moment a SuperSaaS schedule can only sync with one Google calendar at a time, but one Google calendar can sync with multiple SuperSaaS schedules. This feature currently works only with Google Calendar and with Google Apps calendars, Outlook or other calendar programs are not yet supported. However most other calendar programs such as Outlook or Lotus Notes offer a sync to Google Calendar so you can get the same result via a detour.
Ensure the time zone is set correctly, both in Google Calendar and in SuperSaaS. Time zones do not have to be the same on both calendars, but times will be translated as appropriate if the time zones differ, so you should make sure that such a translation happens intentional.
2. Publish a SuperSaaS Schedule to another calendar program
You can publish your schedule to any program that can subscribe to an industry standard (RFC 2445) iCal feed, such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple’s iCal or Google calendar. The iCal link is one way; if you change something online in your SuperSaaS schedule it will be reflected in (for example) your Outlook calendar after it has synchronized. But the appointments cannot be edited in Outlook. You can also use the webcal link to show your bookings on the calendar of your PDA, such as the iPhone, but typically the mobile version of our website (m.supersaas.com) is a better choice because it lets you edit appointments too.
To set up a subscription first find out the “webcal” link to your schedule: Go to the “Supervise” and then click the “Synchronize” tab. Here you will find the webcal address that you need to add to your personal calendar. If you use Google Calendar then you would need to go to the main calendar view and click on the dropdown arrow next to “Other calendars”. You can now select “Add by URL” after which you can add the webcal link. Note that the frequency with which Google updates the information is not under our control and can take several hours. Updates to Microsoft Outlook should take about 15 minutes when default settings are used.
On a subscribed calendar the data is kept separate from the other appointments on your calendar, it is not actually merged, so you can easily delete it again without changing your other appointments. If you do want to merge the appointments from your SuperSaaS calendar with those of your calendar program then you can download them from the “Download” tab and upload them into your schedule program. However in that case the appointments can no longer be automatically updated. A middle ground is to have the SuperSaaS system automatically send you confirmation emails with a small “iCal” attachment each time an appointment gets made. This allows you to add the appointments to your calendar with one click. You can add an iCal attachment by including the magic word $ical in the confirmation message section on the layout tab (configure).
The frequency with which the data is updated depends on the program (not on SuperSaaS). The standard protocol is very inefficient, requiring transfer of all the data in the calendar on each update, so often calendar programs tend not to update very frequently. Also, the iCal protocol only allows for a limited number of data fields to be sent across. That means none of the custom fields you have defined in SuperSaaS will be transferred. If you are a programmer you can avoid these limitations by using the SuperSaaS API. This is more efficient and provides all relevant data fields but it requires the technical proficiency to build an interface.
The iCal interface does not provide authorization measures, so if you are concerned people might find out your webcal link and use it without your knowledge then you can block it. On the “Access” tab, near the bottom of the screen you can select “Block access with calendar programs”.
3. Let your SuperSaaS availability depend on an Outlook Calendar using a third party sync program
To let your SuperSaaS availability depend on your Outlook Calendar, you will need a third party sync program to establish a sync between Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar first. Google Calendar is free to use and easy to set up. So you do not need to actively use Google Calendar to manage your schedule, you can simply use it as a bridge between Outlook and SuperSaaS.
There are several sync programs available:
- gSyncit (free for syncing one calendar)
- Sync Mac (for Mac users, free calendar sync)
You only need to sync the Outlook calendar with Google, there is no need to sync the contacts and the tasks. Via the advanced settings you can set the sync frequency, which you can set to every 5 minutes or even less.
After you’ve set up the sync between Outlook and your Google Calendar, set up the sync between SuperSaaS and Google as described in step 1 this tutorial. When the Sync program completes the initial sync, busy times from Outlook will be blocked on your SuperSaaS schedule.