User feedback is the primary driver for new and improved features in ICS Calendar, and here’s an example of that.
While ICS Calendar was never envisioned as a tool for holiday rental vacancy calendars, it has definitely been taken up for that purpose, and I’ve been working steadily on improvements to that user experience.
ICS Calendar Pro version 4.6.0, out today, introduces some enhancements to the Widget Availability and Year Availability views that should make a big difference for users of these views.
First, the new Combined Availability option finally makes these views suitable for presenting vacancy dates for multiple properties/units at once. If you put multiple ICS feeds into the calendar with this option, a date will show as “available” if any of the units are available. (The default behavior of the calendar is to show “booked” dates rather than “available” dates… so if you had multiple feeds, if any of the units are booked, the date would appear as “booked.”)
Relating to this is the option for No Angled Backgrounds. The default handling of these views is to show check-in/check-out dates with an angled background, an intuitive way for users to see the dates when a unit is becoming available or booked. This is especially helpful in situations where a unit is available for one night: with the angled backgrounds, users can see that night of availability, whereas with regular backgrounds, the unit would appear to be booked solid. However, if your calendar is displaying multiple units, the angles can be misleading or confusing, so this option allows you to turn them off.
Moving over to the Advanced tab of Calendar Builder, there is now a Booked Day Background Color color picker field, to accompany the existing Empty Day Background Color. For calendars including multiple feeds, you’ll want to use this option to customize the appearance of booked dates. (You can also give each feed its own color, but the results of that can be counterintuitive… plus it’s just more work!)
In addition to these new options, there are a couple of “under the hood” changes to Widget Availability and Year Availability as well. First, they now force a Past Days value of 0. (Note that this is not currently reflected in the behavior of the Past Days field; I’m working on that for a future update.) This prevents users from clicking back to past months. Along with this, the calendar does not show any availability status for past dates in the current month. This provides a cleaner interface for users who are looking for vacancies, by not cluttering up the view with details about dates that are in the past.
As always, feedback and suggestions for improvements are welcomed! Please submit them in the forums or via the support form. Thanks!