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Meet The Flagpole: Athens’ Most Beloved Local Magazine

flagpole logo flagpole print calendar

If you’re local to Athens, Ga the Flagpole needs no introduction. It’s our town’s weekly magazine (independent since 1987!) that covers everything that happens in our city. It’s arguable that the Flagpole Calendar is the cornerstone of their entire publication. It includes everything that’s happening in Athens in the upcoming week.

Flagpole’s Unique Request

patrick from spongebob meme that says why don't we take the online calendar and put it on the print magazine

Flagpole approached me with a unique project for their calendar. They wanted to be able to easily (like click one button easy) export their entire online calendar into a custom XML document that would be ready for print. Having this capability would be a huge time saver for them, considering they were manually typing up each event both online and for print.

Pulling Off the Custom Export Process

meme of math lady trying to figure out custom export process

  • So the calendar is split between LIVE MUSIC and GENERAL EVENTS.
  • Live Music events are listed chronologically (by day), but within a day it is organized in alpha order of venue. - Then within that venue, the infoline and acts are listed.
  • General Events are listed chronologically (by day), then listed in alpha order by event category, then listed in alpha order by event title.
  • There’s also really specific rules about the XML formatting (<p> is , <h3> is ) and really specific rules about how html symbols are displayed (& is &)
  • The export process needed to take into account all of these logic & formatting rules automatically.

image showing the logic behind print calendar

And We Did It!!

My brain went into meltdown mode a few times during the summer trying to figure it out, but we pulled it off.

hand smashinga a button that says the ability to export a print ready calendar feed from website

Now whenever I look at the Flagpole Calendar I know it’s my export code that brought it to print. Very cool 😎

How the Export Works

  1. On an admin only page, Flagpole staff can configure the settings for their export

  2. Then they click a “generate XML file” button that generates a page of XML code (This XML code that is generated comes from a PHP file in the site directory that generates XML code based on the settings the Flagpole staff have configured. There are a gazillion conditionals based on date, type of event, text formatting, order, etc. The file is complex but the computer can read it in one second and output the correct XML code.)

  3. They copy & paste the XML code into their design software for the print calendar and its immediately ready & perfectly formatted for print

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