Tutorial: Automatic E-Mailing of Events to Mailing List
With Zap Calendar and Feedburner.com, you can automatically send e-mails of upcoming events to your mailing list subscribers. The e-mailing is handled by Feedburner.com, which creates the e-mail based on the events in your calendar. You can send e-mails on either a daily or weekly basis. For example, a school could send out a weekly e-mail reminder of activities planned at the school for the upcoming week.
To get Zap Calendar working with Feedburner.com, there are three areas that need to be configured: the Zap Calendar back-end setup, the Feedburner.com setup and the Zap Calendar front-end setup.
Zap Calendar Back-End Setup
Feedburner.com utilizes Zap Calendar's RSS feed to retrieve the event information needed for creating the e-mail content. The Zap Calendar RSS feed acts in reverse from a typical RSS feed for articles. In a typical RSS feed for articles, the feed displays articles that have been recently posted. With Zap Calendar, an RSS feed displays events that will occur in the future. If the calendar view is configured for 7 days, then events will be displayed in the feed when they occur within 7 days from the current date. Feedburner.com utilizes RSS feeds, however, this RSS method does not work well for e-mails. What will happen is tha an e-mail will be sent everytime a new event appears on the feed, so several e-mails could be sent during the week. It is usually much more useful to be able to send a single e-mail containing all the events for the upcoming week. Zap Calendar has a special RSS mode designed for Feedburner.com that can accomplish this. For example, you can send an e-mail on Sunday to show all events occurring from Sunday to Saturday.
To configure Zap Calendar, create a new view from the view manager or use an existing view (you can create a new view just to use this feature). Specify the view title, the categories you wish to include in the e-mail, and an optional description for the RSS feed. Under the export tab, say "yes" to the RSS Feed option, specify "week" mode, and the day of the week you wish to send the e-mails. Save the view and make note of the RSS URL by clicking on the RSS icon for the view and copying the URL for the just opened page.
Feedburner.com is a Google owned site that manages RSS feeds. You can use your Google login to manage your feeds. Once you have created an account or logged into Feedburner.com, enter your feed URL in the "Type your blog or feed address here" field. Use the URL that you copied from the calendar setup and paste it here. Press the "Next" button, where you can optionally modify the title and feed address.
After the Feedburner feed has been created, select the "Publicize" tab and select the "Email Subscription" option to activate it.
Zap Calendar Front-End Setup
Once your feed and e-mail subscription are activated, you are presented with more options. One of them is the HTML form code for the subscription. This code creates a form box on your site to allow users to subscribe to the e-mail subscription service. One nice feature of this Feedburner service is that they handle all the user management details of the mailing list such as subscribing and unsubscribing. Copy and paste this code into a Joomla article or custom HTML module to allow users sign up to receive event e-mails from your web site. You may need to switch to raw HTML mode in your Joomla editor (if it is supported) in order to paste the code correctly.
So you now have created the RSS feed, published it to Feedburner and publicized it on your web site. You now just need to wait for your users to join the list! It is probably a good idea for you to be the first subscriber to ensure the form is working and e-mails are working correctly. There are other Feedburner options that you may want to look at to tweek your subscription service.
Other Tips and Tricks
You can specify the time of day (or rather, a time window) you wish the e-mail to be sent out. See Feedburner's e-mail subscription options.
You can add a company logo to the weekly e-mail. See the Feedburner options for more details.
You can have multiple e-mail subscriptions, just create a new calendar for each subscription. For example, a school may wish to have separate subscriptions for the academic calendar and sports schedule.