Time.ly has five different versions of the All-in-One Event Calendar plugin viz:
- The WordPress Core Calendar
- The WordPress Core+ Calendar
- The Timely Pro Calendar
- The Timely Hublite Calendar
- The Timely Hub Calendar
Of these, the first two are the free and premium WordPress plugins (obviously!). The basic, free plugin is available in the WordPress repository; both the versions are available for download on the Time.ly website too. The other three are built on WordPress but are embeddable on any website built on another platform.
Do note that merely installing the free plugin adds just basic functionalities to your website. You need to register on and log into the Time.ly network so that you can avail of the other options like free extended views and ticketing options on the site. This might sound a little confusing initially, so here is a step-by-step chart of the entire procedure.
- Download the All-in-One Event Calendar plugin from the WordPress library (This is the Core bundle, by default).
- Install and activate the plugin from the Plugins panel.
- Go to Events -> Settings -> Fill up the Sign in to the Timely Network Form (This registers you on the Timely network)
- Download the add-ons available for the Core bundle from the Add-Ons section on your WordPress website (this takes you to the product page on Time.ly’s home website, for purchase) or directly from the home website.
Now the installation is complete. Phew!
The other versions can be downloaded from Time.ly’s homepage directly, once you have logged in.
On installation, the following sub-sections turn up under the Events Tab:
A chronological list of all the past, current and future events; these can be filtered by Date of Creation, Author, and Tags.
This opens up the event creation tab. Similar to creating a new Post or Page, you can set up all the particulars of the event here. This includes the event name, duration, location, venue, recurrence, cost, and metadata like custom fields.
This is where you manage your Categories and Tags. A list of all the categories and tags created and the number of times they have been used is also visible here.
The Import Feeds tab is used to add feeds from external websites or your Facebook integration (more on that later), to the Calendar on your website. This is also where you control what details are to be displayed from the feeds, such as enabling/disabling comments, maps, tags, categories and converting the dates and times from the imported event according to the timezone of your website.
The Add-Ons page has links to the free and premium add-ons that are available for the All-in-One Event Calendar, built by Time.ly. These include the Core+ bundle, the Extended Views, Twitter Integration, Front End Event Submissions, CSV Import, Venues, and the Superwidget add-ons.
With a list of all the default Calendar themes available for the plugin, this tab is used to activate and edit them. The themes are basically templates that can be altered and modified to create your own themes. For quick reference, the location of the templates in your computer is also specified here.
The default themes for the All-in-One Event Calendar plugin version 2.5.10 include the Vortex, Gamma, Plana, and Umbra themes.
The go-to page for changing the fonts and colors used by your Calendar theme; it has a straightforward color picker that lets you choose the background, text, link, and font colors for the various views, the forms, buttons, tables, and the general calendar.
There is no preview available though, so you need to visit the site every time you make a change.
The Setting tab has four further sub-sections, namely:
- Viewing Events
The Viewing Settings section includes the options for deciding the number of events to be displayed, the tags and categories that the Calendar falls under, the Enabled and Default views for Desktops and Mobile Phones. Setting up the Calendar’s starting day, adding the Calendar timezone, enabling/disabling the display of Google maps, featured images, year, location and ore, for the different views is handled from here too. Once these changes are done, you can view your Calendar at the front end via the direct link given here.
- Adding/Editing Events
The Calendar date and time format for display can be settled here. The Google maps API enables predictive location search on tying in the address. However, if you need to disable that feature, it can be done from here.
The Advanced Setting tab lets you control the activation settings of features to ensure maximum compatibility with themes and other plugins. It also provides suggestion for resolving known compatibility issues.
The Shortcodes tab in the ‘Advanced’ section has the complete list of the shortcodes available that can be directly inserted into your Calendar pages. Note that the All-in-One Event Calendar plugin supports only one Calendar per page currently.
The Cache Report consists of the Templates Cache.
As a rule, the Add-Ons settings tab will expand with the number of extension you install. Here you can adjust the respective add-on settings, as necessary.
The Widget Creator tab is specifically for creating widgets to be embedded on external sites. You cannot add widgets to your own WordPress site here. That is done via the regular Appearance -> Widgets route. Coming back to the Widget Creator, it lets you choose whether Events are to be displayed or the Dates for the same; each has changeable limits. You can also set up the default categories or tags according to which the events will be filtered before being displayed in the widget.
The All-in-One Ticketing option is still in its Beta stage. AIL integrates with PayPal to provide e-ticket management. To set up this transaction counter, you can add you PayPal details here, along with your preferred currency.
The All-in-One Event Calendar plugin has quite a direct user interface that supports a logical flow of thought. The minimalistic approach serves the plugin well here, since there aren’t too many options to explore, frankly speaking. However, the plugin still lacks a sleek design that would provide everything that you need at one place. There might be different opinions about this of course, but personally, I would prefer to have systematic segregation that does not make me go back and forth for the same requirement.
Ease of Use: 3.5/5
As I’ve mentioned previously, the All-in-One Event Calendar is more of a display-focused plugin than a feature-rich one. Nevertheless, it has some pretty cool features that we’re about to check out.
Multiple Calendar Views
Easily the best feature of the plugin, the multiple views can be used to create a refreshing new look, for your website. Six different views are offered in the Core bundle itself including the conventional Day, Month, and Week views along with the non-conventional Agenda, Stream, and Posterboard views. Agenda and Stream are practically sibling view types, while Posterboard creates a collage of all the events you will be presenting in your calendar.
The views can by dynamically modified at the front-end, where the end-user can toggle between the different views you have enabled and search for the one he is interested in!
AIL Event Calendar lets you create recurring events by Day, Week, Month, Year, and Custom format. An additional feature is that you can not only customize the recurrence of events according to any random order you want, but also add exclusions to the same. For example, I can set up an event that occurs on the first Friday of the first quarter; the second Saturday of the second quarter and the third Wednesday of the fourth quarter, except in October! Neat!
The Time.ly calendar has a fun way of keeping track of events: it provides options to color-code categories. This can be extremely useful if you work for an organization hosting multiple events per day, all year, or even for event marketplaces, where segregation can be otherwise difficult. Color-coding of categories gives the front-end users a much better experience as they do not have to waste time fruitlessly searching for events among the throng.
Social Media Integration
All-in-One Event Calendar integrates with social media websites like Facebook and Twitter for event promotion. These are add-ons that need to be purchased separately to leverage the said functionalities.
Easy Import/Export of Feeds
Importing and exporting events to and from external websites, Facebook pages, Google, iCal, and Outlook accounts and syncing them is possible using the AIL Event Calendar plugin. Event files and categories are downloaded as .ics files which can be uploaded on any other Timely calendar for setup.
Frontend Event Submission
AIL Event Calendar supports front end event submission by end-users, which can be approved and uploaded by the administrator. You can even authorize regular viewers to upload their events directly without necessitating admin approval.
Widgets and Widgeting
Adding widgets to your site on WordPress and any other on external websites is quick and easy with the AIL Calendar plugin. The Widget Creator application provides a ready-to-paste code which can be embedded on external sites like Drupal, Squarespace, or Weebly. The Super Widget application further enhances this functionality by providing event customization and duplication on the external websites.
Event Hosting and Event Listing
Time.ly helps you create an event market, should you so wish, by adding multiple events to your calendar; yours and others’. You can even charge the guest event administrators for the events they upload and add reviews and other content to their posts.
Event listings can be created to categorize the events you host on the site. To this end, user roles and administrative rights can be assigned from the Users tab in WordPress.
Apart from the regular user roles such as Administrator, Editor, Author, Subscriber, and Contributor, the All-in-One Event Calendar plugin also has a user role for the ‘Event Contributor’, whose capabilities include creating events and submitting them for approval.
As it is possible to add a near infinite number of user roles and administrators, the AIL Event Calendar can be a great option for creating community calendars. The display, color coding of categories and easy event creation are all conducive to the generation of community calendars.
The AIL Event Calendar allows front-end users to add events to their wishlist from either the main website or even form the Facebook integration. This is a huge asset for events promotion and marketing, as users can save, set reminders and subscribe to events they are interested in and wish to keep track of.
The Time.ly calendar provides an innovative way of managing add-ons, by enabling the add-on settings from one particular quarter.
Currently, the plugin runs with the beta version for Ticketing, which has the PayPal payment gateway integrated. The Hub and Hublite variations of the plugin provide multiple pricing options for creating pricing tiers in an event. The Sales tab keeps note of the tickets sold and the status of the orders on your website.
Now for the other side of the coin; the Timely Calendar as almost as many drawbacks, as it has advantages, and some of them are pretty significant ones. Here is a list of these:
- Limited payment options; the plugin supports only the PayPal payment gateway, which is not available in all countries across the world.
- Ticketing options are merely adequate; the plugin has just two, a link to an external payment page, or the beta Ticketing offered by the plugin itself.
- No option for centralized management of event organizers at the back-end; due to the lack of a central tab for creating and managing organizers, one needs to add the organizer details every time a new event is created.
- No options for efficient handling of attendee bookings, registration, and management.
The All-in-One Event Calendar scores high on the display and customization part of the event management plugins, but falls short of the all-round expectations from an ideal plugin. The lack of bookings, ticket handling systems, and pricing options contributes to reducing the overall feature rating for the plugin.
Inbuilt Features: 2.75/5
The five different versions of the plugin have different pricing options. Lets us consider them all:\
- The WordPress Core Calendar: Free of Cost
- The WordPress Core+ Calendar: $94 per year for a single site
- The Time.ly Pro Calendar: $9 per month per site
- The Time.ly Hublite Calendar: $29 per month per site
- The Time.ly Hub Calendar: $99 per month per site
There are different permutations and combinations of the features included in each of these plans. The Core+ bundle includes all the premium add-ons that can leverage functionalities like the Super Widget and Front End Event Submissions.
On assessing the features versus price chart, we can say that on the whole, the plugin is priced reasonably.
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Time.ly does have a very timely support, the support team addresses queries and problems across the support forums quickly; however, the documentation is not very vast.
Categorized into User Guide, Release Notes, Feature Requests, and Known Issues, the documentation presents an overview of the different functionalities of the plugin.
There are few in-depth articles that highlight the nuances and minor, but important, aspects of the plugin. Time.ly offers a video tutorial series in addition to the text documentation and also has YouTube channel offering substantial how-to information for using the plugin.
Support and Updates: 3/5
In terms of integrations, Time.ly has built 7 additional plugin add-ons that can be installed to get the best out of the All-in-One Event Calendar. These include:
- The Core+ Bundle: This has all the features of the Core bundle for WordPress. Additionally, it includes the other five add-ons added in the purchase.
- The Frontend Submissions Add-On: A way of managing end-user suggestions and events created, the front-end submissions plugin lets public viewers add events to your Calendar.
- The Extended Views Add-On: This bundle adds the fabled Posterboard and Stream views to your site, which gives a fresh new look to the website. It is a free add-on.
- The Venues add-on: Used to create venue lists and add venues to events dynamically, the Venues add-on is priced at $60 per year.
- The Super Widget Add-on: This add-on enables the administrator to embed event widgets into external websites like Drupal and Squarespace.
- The CSV Import Add-On: Facilitating easy import of events from other Timely calendars into your WordPress website, the add-on works with Excel sheets and ICS formats.
- The Twitter Integration Add-On: Integrating the social media platform Twitter and Timely’s All-in-One Event Calendar, the add-on sends automatic Tweets about event updates.
- MailChimp Integration: The plugin integrates with the professional e-mail management systems’ giant to enable the creation and sending of regular newsletters to subscribers and interested viewers.
From the developers’ point of view, there are plenty of customization and coding options for incorporating site-specific changes into the plugin.
Integrations and Extensions: 3.75/5
The All-in-One Event Calendar by Time.ly is an excellent plugin if what you are looking for is a functionality to display a large number of events in a sleek and attractive manner. If you are looking for some advanced options to create robust events though, this might not be the best solution for you.
A minimalistic approach, with straightforward event creation options make this plugin very easy to handle. The wide scope of event promotion, due to integration across the various social media platforms, makes it an even more popular choice among local organizations and student institutions.