Importing University Calendar into the Palm Date Book

The academic calendars for the 2001-2002 Academic Year and the 2002-2003 Academic Year and the administrative/holiday calendar for Jan 2001 thru May 2002 are posted on the web server.

Rather than manually entering the data, the process was automated. Unfortunately, these pages are not coded in some nice XML format, but are instead the output of some useless word processing program (do a view source if you don't believe me). Using NetScape 4.72 on a Macintosh platform, the page contents were copy/pasted into a Unix text file, and then the awk Unix tool was used to convert the input text file into a file suitable for import to the Palm Desktop date book.

Academic Calendar

The catenated copy/paste of both Academic Year calendars was processed by this awk script into the academic calendar for the Palm Desktop. Note that the source web pages caution that these dates are tentative.

Holiday Schedule

The copy/paste of the Holiday Schedule was processed by this awk script into the holiday calendar for the Palm Desktop. Holidays that are particular to the College Park Campus, and which therefore must be coded as leave type 19, are explicitly marked with an appended (19) after the title. Holidays that are observed on a different date than their caledar dates are entered into the DateBook twice, once on the calendar date with an appended "(Obs MMM DD)" and again on the observed date with an appended "(Cal MMM DD)". For the one holiday observed in a different year than the calendar date, the years are included in 'YY format.

Downloading the Data Files

Copy/paste cannot be used to convert the displayed web pages into a file suitable for import because the required ASCII tab characters are lost in this process.


Unfortunately, when downloading the data files with a Macintosh, NetScape does not properly perform newline mapping, which results in the download of a file that cannot be imported. The awk scripts were modified to generate two output files, one with the Unix default linefeeds between lines and the other with Macintosh carriage returns between lines. Macintosh users should download these versions of the academic calendar and the holiday calendar instead of those above. Click and hold one of these two anchors (that is, don't immediately release the mouse button after the click). When the popup menu appears, choose the "Save this link as..." item. When the file saving menu appears, save the file somewhere on the Macintosh. (Alternatively, "Save As..." can be used when the data file itself is being displayed, that is, after an unadorned click on one of the two anchors.)

Next, launch the Palm Desktop application and choose "Import..." from the "File" menu. When the file choosing menu appears, choose the file that was saved above.

Now, it is very important to change the "Fields:" popup menu from its default setting of "Contact" to "Calendar". Leave the "Delimiters:" popup set to "Tab & Return".

If all goes well, only one event at a time will be visible in the display dialog, and the arrow keys can be used to scan through the events to be imported. The "OK" button will cause the events to be merged into the date book, and the events will be downloaded the next time the Palm is synched.


Unfortunately I was unable to get the Palm Desktop on the PC to scan for any files except Date Book Archive (*.dba) files. This is a major lossage and I don't know how to proceed.

File Format

The files created for import into the Palm Desktop are formatted as:

EventDescription <tab> StartDate <tab> EndDate

and may be manually edited as desired. In particular, events of more than one day's duration are coded in some places as two events, a start date and an end date, while in other places are encoded as a single long-running event.


So I went all through this process and the stupidity of the PC version of Palm Desktop finally bites me. At least I worked out the Macintosh downloading stuff. Pity NetScape doesn't correctly do the ";type=" suffix on a "ftp://" URL...

Someday I should work out the category stuff for Date Book. On the Palm Desktop each event can have up to 2 categories, but they don't seem to display on the Visor itself. It might be possible to produce an xx.dba archive by marking the entries via category, importing them into the Mac version, then exporting them as xx.dba files (assuming the format is conserved between Mac and PC...) and post it on this page. Hmm, it doesn't explicitly export in xx.dba format. Will have to see if setting "Delimiters" as "Palm Desktop" generates a file that the PC version will read... I'll have to make sure the import is a merge and not a replace though.

Also, I work with HandSpring Visors which are just a little bit different from real Palm PDAs. Your mileage may vary...

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