For the purposes of consistency and clarity I will be referring to the two calendars in reference to their creators. The All in One Events Calendar as Timely Calendar and The Events Calendar as Tribe Calendar. I will also be reviewing the premium and pro versions of each respective plugin. I originally begin writing this as a side by side comparison of the two plugins each and every feature. I was doing this in conjunction with working on a calendar feature for a client. Choosing a calendar based on “features” ended up not being the deciding aspect on which calendar I ended up using. But as Tom McFarlin puts it:
..is what helped me make my decision in which calendar to use. This includes:
That said, I found that the overall experience as a developer using the Tribe Calendar was exactly what I needed. I need to mention a few things that helped me make this decision. Choosing a calendar plugin can end up being a big decision especially if the user will be using the calendar heavily or (as in the case of my client) it was being used to schedule event booking to sell tickets to an event. Ending up with a bad product could be detrimental to business. When choosing a plugin I challenge you to be less impulsive and do the proper research in order to choose the appropriate product for the task you are trying to achieve. You may be inclined to go with a free product due to your budget (or lack thereof) or a premium plugin. I encourage you to think about plugins as products and the people and business behind these products to better understand what we are getting into. The amount of time and energy that goes into plugin development, support and maintenance is not cheap or speedy. The Tribe Calendar has a premium price which may turn you away if you are looking to do things on a minimal budget. But I can assure you that it is worth the price! You are paying to keep that quality by supporting a team of people behind your product. Timely recently completed its round of seed funding to support their efforts. Read about it on their website. They want to build “The Worlds Calendar” which will likely take them into app building and cross-platform compatibility. SO, stay tuned for that! Needless to say there is a lot of support behind these two plugins and that in itself is reassuring.
In the meantime … I needed a calendar.
I was looking for a calendar I could customize the design and some of the functionality. I didn’t want this to break every time there was an update to the plugin either. I wanted to change the output of events list widget and create my own custom design for it. I also needed reoccurring events. So I installed the Tribe Calendar and the Timely Calendar and set about my task. Initially I loved the Timely Calendar posterboard view and this almost sealed the deal. But you can’t judge a book by its cover. I still had to customize my calendar. The first comparisons I made were on the front end (calendar functionality, look and feel, user settings, etc..). I have laid out just a few of the features below, and this is by no means all of the features, but just a few that stood out to me:
Tribe Calendar & Timely Calendar both have premium versions. The Tribe Calendar has a Personal – $50, Business – $100 , and Developer – $250 version. Time.ly has a free “Premium” version available to update once you install the plugin from the repository or direct download off of their site.
Both the premium (Timely) and pro version (Tribe) have reoccurring events.
Both plugins support selecting a page to use your calendar on. Time.ly offers themes selector in a similar fashion to the theme repository in WordPress. Events Calendar offers a template page which is well documented with a themers guide. It also offers the ability to add HTML before and after the calendar output.
WIDGETS? – YES
Both plugins have events list widgets.
Notice the red box in the figure above that says, “Want to modify the display of this widget? Try a template override. ” This little bit of info was all I needed to customize my widget as I intended to do so. I could have poured through the Timely Calendar plugin files to see what I needed to do in order to achieve the same task with their product, but this would be time consuming to audit all the code and find an appropriate way to get it to do what I wanted it to do. BUT – you should never do this! Why? You may break something or waste a boat load of time. So I looked on the Timely website to find out where I can customize certain aspects of the plugin to do what I wanted it to do. This led me through a series of articles which leads me to my next topic:
DOCUMENTATION / SUPPORT?
I spent a bit more time on Time.ly’s website trying to find my answers. The support is broken up into tons of articles and I find this to be a bit scattered and confusing. The Tribe calendar documentation is great! On the user admin you will find tons of contextual help and links to specific pages on their documentation site. Tribe offers a super helpful ‘help’ tab in their events settings. I love the themers guide! There is even a new user primer with video tutorials! Talk about going the extra mile! As far as documentation and support Tribe is PRO and many other plugin developers could learn from them. To me this is the selling point- a well documented, flexible, plugin with a full support team. On first glance (initial install and demo view) you may go with the Timely calendar and that may be all you need. If you begin any customization of your calendar and want to get your hands dirty with some code, Tribe’s documentation will guide you every step of the way. If it is not in the docs – you will get a prompt response from them and they will point you in the right direction.
Now I will be the first to admit that I am not a top code judge able to pick out the fine details between each line and determine who wrote the best code with regards to these plugins. Both plugins have plenty of useful comments along the way to help you out. But again, I wouldn’t make any changes unless the authors give you a method to do so in their documentation.
Tri.be offers a Facebook Events add-on (starting at $20) for their Events Calendar Plugin. Time.ly has this feature available in the premium version for free.
Both Calendars work in responsive websites.
Other Options / Features …
I really like the Additional Fields available in the Tribe Calendar. The posterboard view is a great feature for the Timely Calendar.
The posterboard view is super awesome with Timely’s Calendar but I am not a big fan of the their single event page layout. When I look at it I immediately want to do some customizing to the design. I tend to lean towards the clean and simple design of the Tribe Calendar. I am more happy with their design out of the box.
After a long night of Calendar-ing … I am leaning towards the Tribe calendar simply because of the overall experience from end to end – the great docs, excellent support, and great user experience. Plus it did exactly what I needed it to. Worth the $$!! Again it really depends on what you are doing and IF the plugin will achieve your task. In this case the Tribe Calendar was it!