Event Import Plugins Explained 9


Automatic event date and time import is one of the key features of Smart Countdown FX plugin. It makes the life of site administrators much easier when there is a lot of scheduled events and countdown timer events have to be frequently updated. Of course, if your countdown shows time left to a single event you are just fine with a plain countdown – you decide what to do when the event time arrives (switch to count up or hide the counter), save the configuration and forget about it. Later when you do not need the counter any more or after it is already hidden from your page you can remove the widget and you are done.

However there is a bunch of scenarios when you need a countdown to the next scheduled event, could be a concert of your band, online seminar or a special time-limited offer on your site, etc. Manually updating widget settings or a shortcode in a post each time your current event is over is a time-consuming and error-prone task: you have to keep track of your events, update event titles and dates and do it in real time. Nowadays people tend to organize their schedule using event management applications and services, so why not to make a countdown timer work together with an existing events calendar?

This is exactly what event import plugins for Smart Countdown FX do. When you enable at least one event import plugin the following setting is added to Smart Countdown widget configuration:

import_plugins

Sample: all plugins installed

The option currently highlighted disables events import (default initial setting) and you can continue using the widget as a plain countdown to a single event set in “Event date and time”, just the same way as if event import plugin(s) were not installed. However, after you configure an event import plugin of your choice (you will find option pages links in “Settings”) you can select recently added configuration from the drop-down shown above. The widget will then display countdown / count up to / from the next / current event from selected calendar, switching to next event automatically – no page refresh needed.

Counter modes and event duration

Smart Countdown FX widget configuration includes “Counter display mode” setting (“mode” attribute in shortcode). In standalone widget mode this parameter defines conditions when the counter is displayed on a page. If count up mode is not enabled (i.e. count up limit = 0) or a time limit after event is set the widget is simply hidden when event time arrives or count up value reaches this limit.

When the widget is connected to a calendar via event import plugin the condition mentioned above has a different meaning: it defines the moment when Smart Countdown FX looks for the next event from the imported events timeline. If such an event is found the counter switches to this event automatically. The widget is definitely hidden only if no future or running events are found.

Normally event import plugins provide event duration data along with event start date and time (see each plugin documentation for details and exceptions, e.g. all-day events handling). “Auto – show both countdown and count up” option from “Counter display mode” selection field (mode=”auto” in shortcode attributes) is designed especially to deal with imported events duration:

Event is in future Countdown to event
Event starts Count up from event start
Event ends Look for next event in timeline, switch automatically to next event or hide widget if no more events found
Event is in past Countdown to next event or widget hidden

If you select another option from “Counter display mode” drop-down or use another shortcode value for “mode” attribute, event duration imported from calendar will be ignored and replaced with current option’s count up limit (“up-limit” part in shortcode “mode”attribute), as if all imported events were having the same duration.

Let’s use the shortcode as an example as it offers more flexibility in setting counter display mode.

mode=”auto” (this is default value and it will be used implicitly if “mode” attribute is missing in shortcode) – described in the table above.

mode=”countdown” (mode=”countdown:-1,countup:0)

Event is in future Countdown to event
Event starts Look for next event in timeline, switch automatically to next event or hide widget if no more events found
Event ends Countdown to next event or widget hidden
Event is in past Countdown to next event or widget hidden

mode=”countup” (mode=”countdown:0,countup:-1)

Event is in future Widget hidden
Event starts Count up from event start
Event ends Countdown to next event or widget hidden
Event is in past Countdown to next event or widget hidden
Next event starts Count up from next event start

mode=”countdown:X,countup:Y” (where X > 0 and Y > 0)

Event is in future and more than X seconds left before event start Widget hidden
Event is in future and X seconds or less left before event start Countdown to event
Event started and less than Y seconds elapsed since event start Count up from event start
Event started and Y seconds or more elapsed since event start Countdown to next event or widget hidden (if there are no more events or time left before the next event is more than X seconds)

mode=”countdown_to_end” (mode=”countdown:-1,countup:-2, see below)

Event is in future Countdown to event start
Event starts Countdown to event end time
Event ends Countdown to next event or widget hidden
Event is in past Countdown to next event or widget hidden

mode=”countdown:X,countup:-2″ (where X >= 0, see below)

Event is in future and more than X seconds left before event start Widget hidden
Event is in future and X seconds or less left before event start Countdown to event
Event starts Countdown to event end time
Event ends Countdown to next event or widget hidden (if there are no more events or time left before the next event is more than X seconds)
Event is in past Countdown to next event or widget hidden (if there are no more events or time left before the next event is more than X seconds)

Overlapping events

If two or more events start at the same time, the resulting imported event title will be a concatenation (list) of all simultaneous events’ titles. In “auto” mode the widget will look for next event when the shortest of the events is over.

Partially overlapping events are handled similar to normal (non-overlapping) events except that the order of counter mode changes may differ from those listed in the tables above. For example, in “auto” mode if next event starts while the current event is in progress, count up from the next event will appear right at the moment this event starts, replacing the running count up from the previous event start.

Countdown to event end

Event import plugins unleash another Smart Countdown FX feature – an option to countdown to event end time instead of showing the time elapsed from event start. This mode changes counter behavior during events (i.e. while events are in progress) if set so in widget options or shortcode: the standard count up from event start is replaced by a countdown to event end time. Countdowns with “countdown to event end” enabled will perfectly suit for displaying your shop opening hours, help desk live chat schedule, time span for placing orders and so on. In all listed scenarios and while “event” is running (i.e. your shop is open, you support desk is live, etc.) a count up from event start is not so informative. A significantly more valuable and motivating information would be the time left before the service is closed until next day – here “Countdown to event end” comes into play.

If at least one events import plugin is installed and enabled, a new option is added to Smart Countdown FX widget “Counter display mode” drop-down.

countdown_to_end

Shortcodes for “countdown to event end” mode are:

  • mode=”countdown_to_end” (shorthand for mode=”countdown:-1,countup:-2″).
  • mode=”countdown:X,countup:-2″, where X >= 0 and defines time in seconds – if more than X seconds are left before event start or end, counter widget will not be displayed.

Event titles for count up mode have special meaning in “countdown to event end” case. The role of the titles for countdown mode doesn’t change, they are displayed before event start the same way as in normal counter modes (e.g. “auto”). The titles for count up mode have to be updated when you configure the counter in “countdown to event end”. Instead of “Our event is in progress for:” kind of message you have to use something similar to “Our event will end in:” (keep in mind that a real count up will never be displayed, so you can safely use “titles for count up mode” as “countdown to event end” message)

Troubleshooting imported events

Event import plugins settings are very flexible. Most of them support two independent configurations and even a special “merge” mode – when events from both configurations are merged into a single timeline. Together with custom counter display mode settings it can lead to really complex configurations which are hard to track and debug. The possible effect can be that the widget “suddenly” disappears from screen, which is a normal behavior when looking for next events returns empty set or counter “up” limit expires.

Starting from a basic configuration and then fine-tuning is a recommended method. If you encounter issues:

  • Temporarily disable event import plugins and check if the widget is displayed. Setup layout and animation profile of your choice
  • Activate event import. Check that import configuration selected is set up in import plugin settings. Trying to connect the counter to an empty, incomplete or invalid import configuration is the most common error.
  • Select “auto” mode from “Counter display mode” drop-down.
  • Check your source calendar – make sure the events you are expecting to be imported into Smart Countdown FX have correct date and timezone (if applies).

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9 thoughts on “Event Import Plugins Explained

  • Deepak

    Hi sir…I am using your smart countdown fx plugin..it is very usefull….but I am facing problem in putting it in the post….I dont know why after countdown it is just ticking ….I want the timer to disappear after the countdown time …What code I have to use to make the timer to disappear after countdown..please help me…

      • Deepak

        [smartcountdown deadline="2015-07-11 20:11:00" mode="countdown" ] [title_before_down] Time left for the party to begin [/title_before_down]
        [/smartcountdown]

        sir will this code work?

        • admin Post author

          Basically it should work. Not sure you need spaces around square brackets. Also for such a simple case there is no need to use extended shortcode, something like [smartcountdown deadline="2015-07-11 20:11:00" mode="countdown" title_before_down="Time left for the party to begin"] will be fine.

          • admin Post author

            Yes, you are right. This is a bug, thank you very much for reporting! I have already fixed it on my workstation. Plugin update will be available tomorrow morning.

  • Mohsen

    Hi, i am using your awesome plugin in my site, every things ok but in iphone and ipad i cant see the countdown! what is the problem? please help me