Customizable calendar

Record and track past events with the LifePress Calendar plugin – WP Tavern

Two weeks ago, Ashan Jay published LifePress in the WordPress plugin directory. It is an interactive front-end calendar for keeping track of past events – a kind of diary. For a version 1.0 launch, it has enough features with just the right touch of simplicity to show promise.

This isn’t Jay’s first rodeo when it comes to calendar-based plugins. He is also the creator of EventON, a virtual events calendar for WordPress.

The purpose of the plugin is simple. As its description says, “LifePress is a calendar-based journal recorder that will allow you to track progress and review past events to learn from the past and make positive progress in the future.”

Watch an intro video for the plugin:

Dig into the plugin

Call me a fan. The ease of use of this plugin is perfect. LifePress creates a page called “LifePress Dashboard” upon activation, which allows individual site users to view and manage front-end life events for each user. It looks a lot like Google Calendar, except in WordPress.

And this is the main selling point of the plugin – it allows end users to store all of their data in their own database rather than on a third party server.

On the front-end, users are presented with a weekly calendar view by default. However, there is a button to switch between weekly and monthly views.

Monthly calendar view.

A simple “+” button allows users to create new calendar entries. After clicking on it, an overlay will appear to add a date, title, optional description, and tag. Most users should recover the system quickly and without documentation.

Added a new calendar entry with the LifePress WordPress plugin.
Creation of a new calendar entry.

The tag system allows users to group different types of entries with custom colored backgrounds. Colored dots for each tag adorn the left sidebar, allowing users to toggle specific entry types on and off, which is one of my favorite features of the plugin. It’s a simple thing, but it adds to the overall user experience.

The design is, for the most part, great. The interface is clean and easy to use. However, the plugin is not without a few flaws, which is to be expected with version 1.0. The plugin’s various overlays, such as the new entry pop-up, butt up against the top of the page. A little bit of spacing at the top would help with the layout.

Managing the backend might require a bit of work. There is no way to change the color of a tag after it is created. This feature also doesn’t appear to be available on the front-end.

The monthly calendar view was always disabled on a weekday when I first installed LifePress in my test environment. For example, today is Tuesday December 15, 2020. However, the plugin had the 15th listed under Monday. I managed to trace this issue back to the “week starts on” setting in WordPress. The plugin will only work if this option is set to Sunday (WordPress default sets it to Monday). Every other day of the week pushes the calendar for another day.

This is not a problem with the default weekly calendar view. However, it needs to be handled by the plugin author for the monthly layout.

Feature requests

While LifePress is designed to be a journal and a tracking calendar, it would be nice if it could have a dual function and also behave like a simple events calendar. The plugin already allows end users to add items at future dates, so the core of event planning is already in place. To extend this already existing functionality, the plugin could have a notification system. At a minimum, users should be able to receive personalized emails to remind them of upcoming events on the calendar. This might make it interesting enough for some users to ditch Google Calendar, depending on their use case.

If the plugin is to continue to focus on being a great journal and tracking calendar, it should have a built-in progress tracking mechanism. It’s great to see that I put my daily 30 minute jog on the calendar, for example. However, it would be even better if I could see that I was hitting my exercise goals on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

This type of application is not only relevant for personal exercise regimes. It can be applied to other facets of life or used in commercial environments.

Overall, this is a good first outing for the plugin. However, there is a lot of potential for more features in the future.