- If not obvious, provide extra signs for the bathrooms.
- For an ordinary break 30 min. is fine (45 minutes if you offer finger food), for lunch breaks usually 1.5 hours are appropriate.
- During breaks always offer beverages (also water, tea and coffee) and smaller snacks like cookies (better: small pastries) and fruits.
- Remember that some guests may have special dietary requirements (e.g. for vegetarians, people with religious restrictions or medical restrictions like allergies)
- Exhibitions: An exhibition (art, design, etc.) which fits to the conference programme is always a welcome diversion. If you place it close to the catering, the participants will enjoy the breaks even more.
- Rule of thumb: Catering is always the one thing people will remember about an event if it is not satisfying.
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- Have an opening reception with snacks and drinks to welcome all participants.
- Every conference should offer at least one social event, where participants can get together in a less formal setting.
- If your event lasts for several days, find sponsors for extra social events hosted by them.
- Offer excursions, trips, and/or guided tours to allow participants to see interesting locations close to the venue. Try to offer excursions that suit to the subject of the conference.
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The Phases of Conference Preparation
The preparation of a conference can be divided into several sections („phases“). With the help of the following exemplary organization plan of a conference, we would like to help you to understand the capabilities and functionalities of ConfTool and ConfTool Pro respectively.
Subsequently you will find a short guideline of the possible phases during the preparation of the conference and the tasks that arise for the organizers. The phases are supported by ConfTool-System in varying ways and it offers specific settings, user rights and access possibilities that will also be shortly introduced here.
Generally, the preparation of a conference should begin at least one year before the event starts. Please also have a look at the “Guidelines for Local Conference Organizers” with general information of what local organizers should consider during planning.
Today, for most conferences, the website is certainly one of the most important sources of information for potential authors and participants. Therefore, it should be put online as early as possible, have an appealing design and must contain all relevant information in a clear way.
ConfTool Pro does not replace your conference website with the information about the conference, as for this countless excellent open-source content-management-systems are available like Joomla!, Drupal, and Typo3, as well as free of charge online services like Google Sites.
Tips for your Conference Website
Your website should provide all relevant information about the conference and should always be up-to-date. Thus, your site promotes your event, and at the same time it helps you to avoid unnecessary inquiries and misunderstandings. In order for the website to make a professional impression we recommend consulting a designer for its creation.
One should be able to find at least the following information on your website:
- General information about the conference: what is the event about, what is the focus this year, who is hosting the conference, where will it take place, and why should people submit a contribution and participate.
- Information for authors: This includes the “Call for Papers”, details on where the contributions will be published (by whichpublishing house, in which series), and which deadlines are to be considered. Also put templates here (for example MS Word templates) for the submission; the more precise the templates are defined, the less work you will have later when compiling the conference booklet. If prizes will be given out, such as a „Best Paper Award“, it is worth indicating this.
- Location of the conference: One should not only list information of the actual conference location but also give information about the city and the region in which the conference will take place. Write why the region is worth the journey, and which sights it offers. Furthermore, participants appreciate details of how to get to and from the given location and how to find good/cheap overnight accommodation options.
- Participant registration: Please list the registration options here, the incurring fees (is VAT charged?) and what the fees include. Furthermore, the deadlines for the registrations and the early-bird rate should be put here, as well as the accepted methods of payment (see “Receiving Credit Card Payments“).
- Conference programme: Although ConfTool Pro supports you with the scheduling of the conference programme from the accepted contributions, it makes sense to list the most important programme points on the conference website early and to present them in a tailored format. In addition, information on the keynote speakers, social events and the awards show should be provided. It is advisable to create a “conference flyer” with an overview of the conference and to make it also available here as a downloadable PDF-File.
- Contact, about us: These pages are essential for all websites.
Tips for the Installation of ConfTool
For the setting-up of ConfTool, numerous information are required. Of course, you do not need to configure all modules concurrently: for example, if conference registration will be activated at a later date (which makes most sense as hardly anyone will register before the conference programme has been fixed), you’ll only need to set up this part later.
The following data is required for installation:
- The address of the conference website and for your ConfTool installation.
- Which logos and which colours should be used for the ConfTool pages?
- Which logos should appear on the invoices and letters of confirmation?
- What is the standard contact e-mail address? It serves the users to establish contact with the organizers and is shown in the footer of the ConfTool systems. It is a good idea to create a specific conference-e-mail address so that multiple people can access the incoming mails (i.e. in case of absence).
For the following configuration of ConfTool with the web browser, further information will be necessary and queried, amongst others:
- General data such as name, place and date of the conference.
- What are the deadlines for the different phases? These can of course be updated later.
- What is the e-mail address of the sender for the automatically sent confirmation e-mails from the ConfTool system?
- The types of submissions that are supported. What are the requirements for the submission types and review forms?
- Which payment options will be offered? Is an online payment system required? For this, an additional contract with an accordant “acquirer” is usually needed (see “Details for the Acceptance of Credit Card Payments”).
- What is the address and tax number of the issuer of invoices?
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- What options are to be given on the registration form and what are the costs for the different groups of participants?
- Who is responsible for which tasks of the organisation of the conference? As a result of this, who needs which access rights to the ConfTool system?
The Call for Papers should be published at an early stage – preferably already at the previous year’s conference! The general conditions and deadlines must be pointed out in time to the authors to leave them enough time to write their contributions. A successful conference stems from the contributions of the authors, and therefore you should allocate enough attention to your Call for Papers.
The Call for Papers should of course also be found on your conference website. The following information is important:
- What are the deadlines for submission, when will the authors be informed of the decisions, and by when must the final version be handed in (if necessary).
- Which length should, or rather are, the contributions allowed to be?
- Templates for the submission should be available, provided that the contributions are submitted as PDF or DOC files.
- When and where (through which publisher, in which series) will the accepted contributions be published?
- Are there prizes, i.e., a Best Paper Award?
In addition, previous participants should be contacted by e-mail, press information should be released, and the event should be indicated on other websites (i.e. your institution, associated organizations and alliances).
Once a user has registered he can post his contribution in ConfTool. During the entire submission phase, the authors are able to access, revise or withdraw their submission.
In this phase, the reviewers are not yet active but their accounts can already be set up. They can then already choose their preferred topic areas and, where applicable, use their account to submit their own contributions.
During this period of time, reviewers and members of the programme committee are able to indicate which contributions they would like to review or, as the case may be, which contributions (based on grounds of a conflict of interests) they are unable to review. The Chairs of the programme committee try to consider these preferences when allocating contributions to the reviewers.
This phase can be skipped if contributions are assigned based on topic areas or other criteria. However, the bidding phase normally increases the quality of the reviews as it reduces the risk of reviewers having to review unsuitable or (for the individual reviewer) uninteresting contributions.
In this phase, the Chairs decide which contributions will be assigned to which reviewers for inspection.
After the assignment, a bulk e-mail must be sent to the reviewers to provide them with the details of the review process, as well as deadlines.
At this stage Phase 1 is usually closed, authors must not update or submit new contributions any more.
During this phase the contributions will be reviewed by the assigned reviewers. The reviewers get access to the contributions through ConfTool and can also give their evaluations online via a web form.
In this phase, the programme committee discusses and decides on the acceptance or rejection of contributions for the conference. The online forum of ConfTool can serve as a discussion platform.
The planning of the programme begins here: Which contribution is suited to which topic area and which session of the conference.
Based on the discussion of the programme committee it has to be decided which submissions are to be accepted and to be rejected. It is also possible to define different formats of acceptance, for example, as accepted as oral presentation, as poster or work-in-progress-paper.
The planning of the programme should now be carried out and contributions should be allocated to the sessions of the conference. The event will now be scheduled and structured. Rooms will be reserved and sessions, workshops and events planned.
After the decisions on acceptance the submissions have been made, authors will receive access to the results.
They will receive a bulk e-mail with the decisions and feedback of the reviewers (ConfTool Pro).
On the basis of the comments of the reviewers, authors are now able to revise their contributions and subsequently submit the final version for the conference.
Administrators can educe the revised contributions and use them for publication on the internet, for the printed conference booklet or transfer to CDROM.
Speaker Gallery was one of the most requested features in shdlr.com
A conference is judged by the quality of the speakers who are going to be there. In fact the speakers *are* the stars of any conference. Having a nicely formatted and informative page displaying the speakers who are going to be there at a conference can be a big selling point for a conference. Speaker Gallery was developed with exactly this in mind. Check this out
Take a look at the demo : http://demo.shdlr.com/speakerslist
This however was not the biggest change which we did in the code. The biggest change was also not something which the end users can see immediately but someday these tweaks are going to keep the site running for the end users when all other sites would just crumble under the load, check what the guys at http://seo-is-war.com/ said about it. The user facing portion of the app has been re-coded to use search engine optimization & web design caching the database can now be spread across many servers if need be.
Do use speaker gallery for your conferences and events. As usual feedbacks and comments are most welcome.
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Delegates and Speakers coming into the city of the event can be demanding and even a little worried as far as travel and accommodations are concerned. In fact, most of them will only confirm their presence if they have a clear confirmation that their travel and accommodation arrangements have been properly organized, what worries them the most is having all their essentials for traveling, the PNW waterproof backpack being one of them.
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Well, this assumption is not true but just like everyone who decides to visit a foreign country or city, it’s best to be prepared, find out exactly what our needs are in order to ensure that our stay will run as smoothly as possible. The same applies for conference participants, especially since they are coming in for business purposes. We also recommend getting sugar daddy apps when you want to have some fun online.
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First of all, unless we’re dealing with a very small and closed group of attendees, the best advice with regards to finding a hotel or apartment is not to book any accommodation on their behalf, it is also necessary that every singe person finds a tactical flashlight amazon for the trip. The reason is simple; each person has their own preferences, needs and possibly demands. Moreover, handling sudden changes such as dates of arrival, guest numbers, or even delays and cancellations can become a real nightmare for the organizers. Instead, thinking practically and contacting several hotels to negotiate special rates and discounts remains the smartest and most cost-effective move.
Also, as previously mentioned in another post, the conference handbook and venue guide should have all the required information about transport to the conference location ready and updated, including the various modes of transport as well as the overall fares.
Speakers, on the other hand, especially if invited and paid for, are a different matter altogether. The conference committee should arrange for dedicated local transport for them and ensure the absolute best in terms of organisation. The team should have put together a hospitality committee for this purpose and ensure that all tasks — from the choice of accommodation to the different facilities are met. Ensuring that the team members responsible for the transit have all the necessary details about the flight arrivals and departures is always helpful.
The hospitality committee should also ensure that the speakers and invitees have been provided with their local contact information. A spreadsheet with responsibilities clearly defined and distributed to all team members is a good way of keeping everyone on the same page. You can always try more complex project management tools if you so wish.
More importantly, the details of stay and transportation should have been transmitted to the assigned speaker prior to the beginning of the conference in order to avoid all sorts of misunderstandings and mix-ups, which could seriously delay and affect the course of the conference.
Little gestures and extras like installing military flags go a long way especially when you want to stand out from other event organisers. What you want is, turn these speakers and invitees into regular attendees and offering little luxuries such as a free pick-up from the airport—unless they themself decline—is going to impress them and make the crucial difference.
Conference participants are usually stressed-out about the whole logistic of the trip and like nothing better than when everything has been properly taken care of, especially mundane tasks such as ordering taxis to get to a hotel in a foreign country for instance.
Include local attractions
Playing good host with foreign participants who are coming into the country or city for the very first time is extremely important, both for the well-being of the participants as well as the reputation of your event. Offering genuine information about the traditions and customs of the country to the delegates as well as invitees of your event will make a great impression on them. Conferences can be long and daunting and squeezing some local tourist information in between business talks will be much appreciated.
Also, arranging sightseeing tours and local landmarks visits for the participants’ partners is a great way of showing them your own gratitude and appreciation. Most of the time, participants are far too busy to arrange tourist trips for their partners, and this little extra perk is certainly going to impress them.
Organizing travel and accommodation is not just about booking rooms and flights, it is about being good hosts. In this difficult economic climate, competition is fierce and playing excellent host will certainly not go unnoticed with them. Over-delivering is also a great way of keeping the participants happy like we did for example with the guys from WoodPursuits.com. The bottom line is, happy participants are straight lines to procuring the sponsorship for your next event.
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shdlr.com wants to be the easiest conference schedule software/app, using at the same time other type of software like .net cms, as well. Continuing with the iteration of features we have added some new features and tweaks
The biggest re-factor was adding Speaker profiles, For the more technically inclined we have coded speakers as “has and belongs to many” talks. The UI for adding speakers to a talk has been kept as simple as possible, in fact it is very similar to adding recipients to mails in popular web-based mail apps. This re-factor also added vanity urls for the speakers, taking an example from the demo: http://demo.shdlr.com/speaker/tariquesani
Since we have speaker profiles we have given the conference admins an easy way to see speaker lists and export them as csv. The speakers can be filtered by speakers with selected talks, scheduled talks and a couple of more. This we see as being very useful for contacting speakers during various stages of talk selection.
For conferences with a large number of talks it is easier to select talks and then schdule them later. Ability to short list talks and publish them as a list of selected talk has been added
Even in a connected world there is a demand for offline/downloadable formats. As a starter, we have added download pdf of the schedule grid, More file and other schedule formats will be added soon.
Getting a great logo for your business is very important—it is the face of your brand, after all. The good thing about making a logo: you have options. The bad: many of these are expensive, especially if you’re an entrepreneur just starting out.
There are certain symbols that come to represent particular industries or products. For example, how many pizza places have you seen with a logo that features an Italian, mustachioed chef with a tall white hat and a wide grin? Maybe holding a ridiculously huge pizza? A good logo reflects who you are, but it should also distinguish you from everybody else. A good logo should dare to be different.
Finally, the most important thing is to find a professional to help you deal with creating the logo, you can find it here DesignRush.com and manage your site and marketing tools. There are web or mobile applications that help you design your own logo. The design options and customizability are limited, therefore results are not differentiated, but you can still get an acceptable logo once you find the right app. Most importantly, this comes at a price point that is affordable even with the most shoestring of budgets.
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Today if I saw a conference without a conference website I am most certainly going to give that conference a miss, more like such a conference will hardly be noticeable. This explains the contribution of digital evolution in the marketing and business world. Aside from website, Facebook Advertising Agencies are a great help for businesses related matter as well. The conference website is the single most important source of information for all the attendees, be it delegates, speakers or sponsors. The conference website should be put online as soon as possible and have the relevant information outlined in an easy to find manner. Let me tell you that this is an interesting read if you’re starting a new company. If you need help designing a website, then go get this EV SSL Install Guide.
Start with preparation as early as possible. It is not unusual for event teams to start almost a year in advance. While not 100% essential it is best to use a CMS for maintaining your website as CMS makes it easy to manage changes right through your browser., My current favorite CMS is WordPress (Yes! it is a CMS) if you have the expertise you can try your hand at using Drupal, Joomla or the likes. Website designing is a professional’s job but most CMS system offer templates and themes which are very flexible. It is generally a good idea to keep the design minimalistic so that the content gets undivided attention. It is very desirable to hire a web designer if your budget permits it. I recommend WebDesign499 for you, see here for free consultation.
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Be sure to have the following on your website –
- General info: What is the event about, who is the target audience, what is the theme of the conference (in general or specific for the year), who is hosting the conference, when will it happen, and why it would be a good idea to submit a talk or participate as a delegate. All these should be either linked to the appropriate registration forms or mention dates when they can be accessed.
- Timeline: Put up a timeline with dates for various participants. Speakers, Delegates, Volunteers and Sponsors.
- Information for Speakers: The quality of talks and speakers are the most important factors in the success of a conference. To attract the best speakers ensure you have all the relevant details on your website a quick list would include
- Call for Papers – Mention what kind of talks, demonstration or workshops are expected. Also make clear what is a *no no* e.g.; advertisement of commercial services or products.
- Process of selection – Clarify who will select the talks, what further materials may be asked before the selection is final
- Important deadlines – This should be part of the timeline shown to the speakers. It may include things like, Call for papers opens, deadline for initial submission. Publishing of first reviewed. Call for details (clarification and slides etc). Ensure that you are giving adequate time and heads up to the speakers.
- Venue Guide: Make this more than just about the venue, list information on how to get to the venue from important locations in the city like from Airports, Railway station, Bust stand etc. Modes of transport available and approximate fare charged to reach there. Also list out accommodation available near the venue. A link to the city guide if your city has one is a great idea!
- Delegate registration: These days ability to register or buy tickets online is a must. Sites like Eventbrite make it super simple to sell event tickets online. Check out alternatives available for your country. DoAttend and Aayojak are two popular similar sites in India. Group discounts and Corporate benefits should be listed on this page. Also list related items from the timeline here like – dates for Early Bird discount offers. Furthermore, the deadlines for registrations and the early bird rate should be on this page If you want to highlight any acceptable payment method do it here. Streamlining process will be easier if you also have a digital helpdesk software in place. This way, you only need to look at one place for everything you need about the event.
- Conference schedule: shdlr.com can be your one stop shop for creating event schedule. It not only gives schedules in multiple format including a mobile website and subscribe-able iCal files which are supported by every standard Calendar application be it on desktop or mobile, shdlr.com also has downloadable formats of your schedule which can be used for printing the Event Brochure.
- Contact us: This page is a must and should have clear information on all modes of communication including Social media pages.
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Shdlr was born to itch a need… now that we have got people using it as a conference schedule maker I started wondering what more can be done? Organizing a conference is not just about scheduling nor can everything be made into an app. What can I do about the scores of bits of knowledge accumulated over the decade? How can I let this knowledge be used by someone else wishing to organise conferences? The best way I thought would be to write a series of blog posts on conference planning, hopefully the result will be a handbook which can be useful to conference planners. We also built a website with web design highland beach. When you want to build a website for your business with professional feel, visit their page. Get to find a manalapan roofer when you want to hire the best.
I do plan to go over every milestone of planning and perhaps also ask some friends to contribute a post or two, the posts may not be in the correct order for now, but here goes the very first topic: Choosing date and location for your conference, you should also consider having some security around the place, read some of our useful content – SecurityInfo here.
- Similar conferences: Research a bit for similar themed or similar topic conference taking place somewhere else at the same time? This will impact your target audience and number of attendees
- Holidays, fairs and events: Get information about local holidays, other conferences, fairs like this one for men’s tungsten carbide rings for example, and events in your city. Mid December to Mid January is usually an inopportune time, Several events at the same time make it hard for the participants to get accommodation at reasonable prices, in turn making it hard for conferences to get participants.
- College and University exams: If the target audiences are college students get information on Exam dates and ensure that your conference dates do not clash with them
- Venue capacity: This should be an obvious one, but can get overlooked. Inspect the venue, find out what is the advertised capacity. Will the venue administration allow more than the advertised capacity if more people want to attend than expected?
- Accessibility: Is the venue easily reachable by public transport? Is the venue accessible by physically challenged people, you may not need this, but it is nice to have.
- Venue Layout: If your conference is going to have multiple concurrent sessions, then consider the layout of the venue and the distance between various halls / locations. Delegates often change from one hall to another, but these can also be minimized by planning your schedule such that similar talks are bunched one after another. Shdlr provides an easy way to do this by way of using talk tracks or talk types.
- Free Internet access: This is a must for almost every technical conference. Most venues will say that they have wifi access, but these are almost never meant to handle any substantial concurrent traffic. Plan and budget for getting extra bandwidth from ISP. To give a hint HasGeek and Foss.in have had 20mbps fiber connection for their recent conferences.
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Have I missed something important? Do you want to add some point? Please feel free to add them in the comments…
At shdlr.com we strive to listen to our users and implement what they want in an online conference schedule maker or creator.
The feature which was most often asked was drag and drop re-scheduling of talks – this has been implemented and should be available for all the conferences.
Other features which were implemented in this release were:
- Ability to add a URL for custom CSS in the embedded schedules. This will help webmasters to match the colors, typography and any other style to their own website.
- Ability to hide empty rows in a schedule. Many conferences have registrations and welcome a day prior to the full day programs. This resulted in a mostly empty screen for the first day. To remedy this there is now an Option in the new Publish Settings to hide empty rows in the schedule.
- We have also added options to show the simple grid on your front page apart from being just able to embedding it.
- The new publish menu also allows you to decide what schedule formats you want to show or hide and then some more.
Do try out and holler if you find something missing!
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I had wanted foss.in to be the first conference to be scheduled and completed on shdlr. The primary reason being that shdlr was born out of the pain we have experienced over the years in trying to have a system which allows flexible scheduling for conference and events. When you put out a service which you know is going to be useful to a lot of people you cannot make such assumptions. TIM 2012 conference thus became not just the first but also with 84 scheduled items larger than the foss.in schedule.
That said foss.in was still special because not only was I there taking notes and feedback, unknown to many Rakesh Temburne, our developer also was attending the conference as a delegate. The major end user pain points which became apparent were
- The speaker name should be shown right away with the talk: We implemented the simple grid embedded view almost immediately to address this
- Speakers need to have profiles: Currently this is being handled by linking to speaker’s website. This clearly is not enough, we are developing a feature which will not only allow speaker profiles but also multiple speakers per talk
- Usability of the mobile version is good but not excellent: The mobile version will be completely rehauled
- Availability of a printable version: This feature has already been coded and soon users will be able to download PDFs and PNGs of the schedule if the conference owner allows it
For the admins the most asked for features were
- Drag and drop rescheduling: Currently there is a click and drag interface but to reschedule a talk you have to go through a two step process, this will be eliminated by the ability to drag and drop a scheduled talk to an empty slot –
Being coded; coming soon!DONE!
- Adjust schedule for delay in start: Tardy starts to events are not just an Indian phenomenon, Admins will be given a slider control to adjust timings for delayed start. We are not really sure as to how we will handle the time made up later in the day as yet…
Apart from outright requested features there were some insights which were gathered. Everyone wanted to know the commercial status of the project. It would be great to keep shdlr free for everyone and forever, sadly reality dictates otherwise. Shdlr will continue to be free at least till 19th September 2013. The pricing page will be live very soon. Instead of just 2 tiers Free and Paid it became apparent that there is a market for additional classes of users viz: Event Managers/Agencies and Enterprises asking for White-labeling, yes at some point they will be catered to….
A live event wall which displays the currently on going talks and upcoming talks along with tweets is being considered. A deep integration with the ticket vendor sites to allow the registered delegates to choose talks and create their own list of talks they would like to attend will definitely be there. The selected list of talks will also be available as a personal iCal file. This will not only be useful to delegates but also to the organizers in helping them decide which hall/room to put the talks in. There were several occasions when it was said “lets switch the halls….”
There was a lot of appreciation too but we are not getting carried away by that. There were some persistent talks about partnerships and some about getting shdlr funded – thanks but at this stage “No Thanks!”
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If you were there at foss.in and have some suggestions – do comment, it would be very much appreciated.
Shdlr provides ical files to sync your An ICAL file is an iCalendar Calendar Data file. iCalendar is used send meeting requests and tasks to other Internet users that reunite for different types of events, as reunions or gaming conventions where they learn about the newest hardware for gaming, as this best router for gaming by HotRate.
iCal supported by a large number of products, including Google Calendar, Apple Calendar (formerly iCal), GoDaddy Online Group Calendar, IBM Lotus Notes, Yahoo! Calendar, Evolution (software), eM Client and Lightning extension for Mozilla Thunderbird.
In this HowTo we will look at how to add an iCal file of an event of shdlr.com to Thunderbird Lightening calendar.
Ensure that you have the Lightening extension installed in your Thunderbird.
Once you have switched the calendar view the screen will appear similar to
From the menu choose Files > New > Calendar
This will pop up a Create new calendar wizard. Since we want the talks and events from shdlr to update automatically in our calendar we choose “On the network”
The Format of the file is iCalendar (we all knew that right?
As location paste the URL of the ical file – for the demo conference it is http://demo.shdlr.com/ical
When you click Next the name of the conference will automatically appear in the Calendar name. Select your favorite color and set reminders if you want to
That is it! When you navigate to the days on the conference the day screen should appear some what like the screenshot below.
Any changes to the schedule of the conference will be also in the iCal file on the server. Thus it will also be reflected in your Thunderbird Lightening