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Feature #3475

Request to add plugin to streamline room booking/appointment booking

Added by Naomi Barrettara over 4 years ago. Updated about 4 years ago.

Status:
Assigned
Priority name:
Normal
Assignee:
Category name:
Events
Target version:
Start date:
2014-09-18
Due date:
% Done:

0%

Estimated time:

Description

This ticket is to request that a plugin be added in order to provide better room booking / appointment booking capabilities on Commons blogs/pages.

Backstory:
I built a website on the Commons at the request of the GC Music Department specifically to handle practice room and classroom bookings from students and faculty (http://musicroombooking.commons.gc.cuny.edu/) The current set up is such that users submit their info via a form (built with the Contact Form 7 Plugin), and the request is emailed to the Music Administrator. It the administrator approves the booking, they then manually enter all the info info into the calendar (currently built with the Events Manager plugin), and I have set up the categories such that it looks like a room schedule. When the admin asked me to build this website, I told them it would involve a lot of manual input/labour on their end, and that I wasn't sure if there was away to make it more streamlined. At the time, they said that didn't matter, they wanted it anyway, because they wanted control over approving or denying booking requests. Now they are complaining that the manual input of submitted info is too much work, so I have been looking for ways to make the process more streamlined and manageable.

Capabilities I am looking for:

My goal is finding a way for users be to enter info themselves in a form on the front end, and when they hit "submit", that info becomes a pending request, and once an admin hits "approve", the info auto-populates a calendar schedule. Essentially, a customizable front-end user form that auto-populates a calendar when the form is submitted, but also has admin power to approve, deny, or delete a booking/appointment. I looked for a way to do this in Events Manager, but you cannot customize the language and fields of the "event submission form", and the "event booking" function cannot be manipulated to suite this function, as it is created specifically for ticketing. What I really need is something like an appointment booking function that can auto-populate a master calendar, as well as category specific schedules.

Possible Solutions:

I did some looking into options for solving this problem, and every option I found would involve installing a new plugin - and I found three options that seem to have a capability that suites this purpose of room booking, but could also be more generally useful for Commons users looking for "appointment booking" solutions:

1) A plugin called Bookings (https://wordpress.org/plugins/bookings/)
2) A plugin called Calendar and Appointment Booking (https://wordpress.org/plugins/appointy-appointment-scheduler/)
3) A plugin called Gravity Forms + Events Calendar (https://wordpress.org/plugins/gravity-forms-custom-post-types/)

Notes:
- Option 3 connects the info submitted through Gravity Forms with The Events Calendar, and provides the customizability of the forms and the auto-populating function I am looking for. But note, in order to make it work, it seems to need a little bit of code added to the "Functions file" (more info about this can be found here: http://creativeslice.com/tutorials/gravity-forms-events-calendar-submissions/)
- It would be great if there was some kind of automated email that was sent out when an booking request has been approved and posted to the calendar.

Please let me know if there is any more info I can provide to help with this feature request! Thank you!

History

#1 Updated by Matt Gold over 4 years ago

  • Category name set to Events
  • Status changed from New to Assigned
  • Assignee set to Samantha Raddatz

Thank you, Naomi, both for this and for visiting our meeting today. We look forward to discussing these issues with you.

Assigning to Samantha for a preliminary UX response.

#2 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

  • Assignee changed from Samantha Raddatz to Boone Gorges
  • Target version set to Future release

In Friday's meeting we decided that the best way forward for the time being is for Naomi to have access to a WP sandbox installation where she can play with the suggested plugins. I've created this for her and sent her the details. I'll put this ticket into Future Release until we've heard back, and know how she'd like to proceed.

#3 Updated by Naomi Barrettara over 4 years ago

Update for everyone: I did some research and playing with plugins in the WordPress sandbox Boone made for me, and here are my findings thus far:

I could not find a booking or appointment plugin in a FREE ($0) form that would do what we want. But there are a few that, after playing with their live demo versions of the paid/premium options, look like they would provide capabilities we are looking for. They include:

1) The best option I could find = Booking Calendar: At its "Business Medium" paid level, it seems to offer all the functionality and customizability needed for my immediate purposes, as well as many more features that might be useful for others. But from what I can see, it is quite expensive. (http://onlinebookingcalendar.net/buy/)

2) WP Booking Calendar: This plugin seems from their demo pages to do what I want, but since even the most basic version of it is paid, I could not test it completely. (http://codecanyon.net/item/wp-booking-calendar/4639530?ref=wpmayor)

3) Booking System PRO: Similar to "Booking Calendar", this plugin would have way more functionality than my immediate needs, but appears to be adaptable to my purposes. I played with it as much as possible in the Wordpress sandbox, but of all three options, I am the least confident about this one, as I have had the hardest time deciphering if the paid version will do exactly what is desired.
(http://codecanyon.net/item/booking-system-pro-wordpress-plugin/2675936)

Aside from these paid plugins, another solution is the Gravity Forms + Events Calendar plugin I mentioned in my original ticket (https://wordpress.org/plugins/gravity-forms-custom-post-types/). However, note that I could not test this in the sandbox b/c Gravity Forms is a paid plugin.

I have hit a point where I am not sure what to suggest is the best next step. I will keep researching, but any second opinions on the plugins and options cited above would be welcomed!

#4 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

Thanks for the update, Naomi. Regarding Gravity Forms etc: would it help if I installed some more plugins to the sandbox? I have access to Gravity Forms and can put it there for your testing if it'll help. If so, please give a list of the plugins you'll need.

Regarding paid plugins: One part of this is cost, one is ideology, and one is the practical flexibility of the license. I think the first is probably not a huge issue in any of these cases for a one-time purchase. The second - our desire to use free tools where available - is important, but certainly we can make exceptions for cases like this. The third is the most problematic. The licenses you've pointed to are either for a single site, or for five sites, or are one of Envato's invented licenses. We've had exchanges with them in the past where they've made it clear that the Commons as a whole does not count as a single installation. We could easily enough just ignore this, but it doesn't sit quite right with me.

If it turns out that one of the paid options are best for Naomi, my suggestion is that Matt review the budget and decide whether there are funds to cover the purchase of a plugin for exclusive use on a single site. If so, we will limit the plugin to being used on that site. I don't want to be in the business of counting the number of sites using a plugin and making sure they stay under some arbitrary ceiling, so I think that the "multi site usage" licenses are not a good idea. And we'll just have to bracket this discussion off from the larger discussion of what to do about events/bookings/appointments on the Commons as a whole.

#5 Updated by Matt Gold over 4 years ago

Thanks, Boone. Naomi, I'll await your feedback. We definitely do have the budget to buy a personal license for one of the paid plugins if needed.

#6 Updated by Naomi Barrettara about 4 years ago

Hi Boone - Apologies for the delay in getting back to you on this! I am just diving back into it now, and my first thought is that it would be VERY helpful to have Gravity Forms in the sandbox, if that is still a possibility. I think that is the only plugin I will need for the time being.

There are a few free plugins that require Gravity forms in order to connect a form to a custom post type that will interact with a calendar/event post submission. One plugin works with Events Calendar, the other with Sugar Calendar, and I think there is one for the Google Calendar WordPress plugin as well. So if I have Gravity Forms in the sandbox, I can see if any of these connecting plugins will work and do what I want, and then go from there.

Boone Gorges wrote:

Thanks for the update, Naomi. Regarding Gravity Forms etc: would it help if I installed some more plugins to the sandbox? I have access to Gravity Forms and can put it there for your testing if it'll help. If so, please give a list of the plugins you'll need.

Regarding paid plugins: One part of this is cost, one is ideology, and one is the practical flexibility of the license. I think the first is probably not a huge issue in any of these cases for a one-time purchase. The second - our desire to use free tools where available - is important, but certainly we can make exceptions for cases like this. The third is the most problematic. The licenses you've pointed to are either for a single site, or for five sites, or are one of Envato's invented licenses. We've had exchanges with them in the past where they've made it clear that the Commons as a whole does not count as a single installation. We could easily enough just ignore this, but it doesn't sit quite right with me.

If it turns out that one of the paid options are best for Naomi, my suggestion is that Matt review the budget and decide whether there are funds to cover the purchase of a plugin for exclusive use on a single site. If so, we will limit the plugin to being used on that site. I don't want to be in the business of counting the number of sites using a plugin and making sure they stay under some arbitrary ceiling, so I think that the "multi site usage" licenses are not a good idea. And we'll just have to bracket this discussion off from the larger discussion of what to do about events/bookings/appointments on the Commons as a whole.

#7 Updated by Boone Gorges about 4 years ago

Sounds great, Naomi. I've added Gravity Forms to the site. Let me know when you need something else from me.

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