A Flash XML calendar is a very useful addition to many web pages. If you are responsible for running or maintaining a website that is viewed by regular people, perhaps the members of a social networking group, an organisation or club, or even customers who frequently visit your site to see what is available, then one of the little gadgets that will only take a few minutes to include, but which will not only improve the look and sophistication of your site, but also the ability to improve organisation, then a simple Flash XML calendar could be just the answer.
As far as websites go, there are all manner of ways of inserting clever and sophisticated features into the pages, but the problem with many of these is that they are very complex to configure. The advantage of combining Flash with an XML file is that, whilst the Flash part is simply inserted onto your web page where you want your calendar to appear, the guts of the calendar, the events and entries, are stored in the XML file, which is little more than a plain text file that can be very easily edited by anyone. The Flash calendar then reads the data in the XML file, and converts that into the slick and professional looking calendar on your web page.
Another advantage of having your interactive calendar built in Flash is that your visitors, in the main, will not be required to install any plug-ins. That's the usual problem for most widgets and extras included in pages, whether it uses Java or some other clever method, many users will need to download or install software to enable them to run. On the other hand, a Flash XML calendar will be instantly accessible by almost everyone who has an internet connection.
Let's imagine circumstances where having an interactive and regularly updated calendar on your website could be helpful;. Many organisations and societies have regular meetings, say, every third Thursday of the month. Having to go manually through a calendar and calculate each date for the next few months meetings would be a fiddly task, very time consuming and repetitive, and of course subject to the usual tendency for human error. On the other hand, simply entering a rule in your XML text file that every third Thursday of the month should have a particular, repeated entry, will simply mean that your Flash XML calendar will immediately display this entry for every month for as many years as your visitors can be bothered to scroll through! Imagine being able to enter a regular event just once, and have it automatically displayed correctly on an up to date calendar for ever more!
Not only that, but any other regular event, regardless of the frequency can be entered in just a few seconds, and then forgotten as you let the Flash programming do all the work. So an annual event held every 3rd September, or the first Saturday in June, or the 1st August every 3 years it shouldn't make any difference how the date is calculated, as long as it is regular, it takes just a few seconds to enter that kind of rule in an XML document, and then let the connection between Flash and the XML file pick up the rest, making sure your website visitors see an up to date calendar, displaying all of the events correctly, in an interactive way.
The interactive element of a calendar should work in such a way that visitors can scroll through the months or even years displayed, seeing at a glance what events have been entered, and if necessary, being able to either hover over a date or click it in order to see more detailed information about it.
How many times have people in your organisation or club asked for the date of a meeting or event next summer, so that they can book their holidays around it? If not that particular scenario, then certainly requests for dates, or errors in booking two things at the same time can often occur. By quickly entering the rules for regular events, or even entering special, one off events known in advance, the data is then clearly displayed and accessible immediately to anyone who needs to know.
Another aspect of Flash is the wonderful way in which the visual elements can be managed quite separately from the programming, meaning that any Flash XML calendar should be easily customisable, so that it fits easily in with the style and theme of your website.
Not only that, but if your regular events or special events are of particular interest to visitors, then now that Google and other search engines can read the contents of Flash files, the up to date entries visible on your Flash XML calendar will be readable by Google, allowing your site's events to be searchable and visible by the search engines too. For the sake of just a few minutes work, you could have a website that is professional, organized and up to date, and more importantly, so will your members be.
For more information on the use of Flash XML Calendars on your website, visit Flash XML Calendar for details of what they are and how to use them.