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FileMaker to vCal

Matthew Norwood

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From a FileMaker Server-hosted file (not Server Advanced) with an Events table, end users want to be sent an e-mail with an "importable" vCal file based on an Event Date, Start Time and End Time for use within Oracle Calendar or iCal (the use of which is left up to the end user). When an event is created in the Events database, the creator of the event clicks a button which sends the details to the assigned user with a vCal file attached to the e-mail. There are a number of users, all on Macs with FileMaker installed in the same relative path location (Applications folder). No modification of the file should be made by the end user; it should be manually importable to their vCal calendar client of choice upon receiving the e-mail.


What I've done:

Created a calculation field which takes the event info and formats text based on the vCal standard, then exports this file as a text file and saves it in a relative location on the client machine to the installed FileMaker app with the .vcs extension, followed by an auto-generated e-mail. This all works fine.



The text file exported from FileMaker is not recognized as a valid vCalendar file by both Oracle Calendar and iCal. Upon exporting test data from Oracle Calendar and copying exported calculation field data across to a "valid" vCal file, I've determined the text file exported from FileMaker is in some fashion formatted in a way that is not recognizable, though it is saved as a text file with the .vcs extension.


Any ideas why exporting a text file from FileMaker does not seem to save as a .vcs file "properly" though a .vcs is still a text file? Anyone attempted a similar solution with positive results? Am I simply missing something simple on this file formatting issue?


The solution cannot use plugins and or solutions like the XSLT iCal one due to server limitations.





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  • 2 weeks later...

I've never tried exporting to vCal, but I do a lot of work flowing information from FileMaker to InDesign and I've come across a couple gotchas:


1. Export Records vs. Export Field Contents; if you're only exporting one vCal at a time, this may not effect you. When FileMaker exports records, it uses a paragraph return to denote the end of a record. If your calculation requires paragraph returns and use the Export Records script step, FileMaker replaces your returns with some other character, thus screwing up your file. If you need to export multiple vCals at a time, set up a global accumulator field, have your script go record-by-record setting the field, and then Export Field Contents, as this will force FileMaker to respect your paragraph returns.


2. Text Encoding; when you Export Records, FileMaker gives you the option of specifying the text encoding it should use. When you Export Field Contents, FileMaker gives you no such option. It exports the data in UTF-16 Little Endian if you're on a x86 machine, or UTF-16 Big Endian if you're on a PPC machine. I don't know how picky iCal is when it comes to text encoding, but InDesign certainly is.


Hope that helps some!

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