There are now 2 different confirmation messages you can configure in RSVPMaker, one for the initial registration and the other displayed only after payment when you are charging for an event. One scenario: you’re charging for an online class or webinar and do not want to share the link until after payment is collected.
You can test it right now by signing up for the Google Photos workshop my friend and client Chris Guld is taking registrations for.
By default, RSVPMaker sends a confirmation email message immediately after an event registration is recorded. However, you can now change that to say the confirmation email should only be sent after payment is confirmed.
One of the new editor blocks available in RSVPMaker is RSVPMaker Schedule, an alternative to the calendar-style presentation meant to let you display a series of related events such as sessions within a conference program.
WordPress enthusiasts might consider this as a way of sharing a WordCamp event schedule.
The setup for the conference schedule demo is that there is one RSVPMaker event post that serves as the registration page for the entire weekend event. Each conference session is then modeled as its own RSVPMaker event. As displayed within the RSVPMaker Schedule listing, the sessions of the individual presenters are grouped by day, with the time that they are speaking shown as part of the session headline.
Here’s the black background confirmation message for a pirate party. This design allows me to specify styling on the RSVP button (Update RSVP in the case of a confirmation message) differently from the one used elsewhere on my website.
White on Black Email Template
Using Gutenberg Columns in the Template
One technique for creating an template layout is to rough out the design in the WordPress editor, then copy the resulting HTML and elements such as shortcodes and dynamic Gutenberg blocks into the body of an email template.
Here, I have created a 2-column layout in the editor and a centered image to appear beneath the columns. The left column contains the [rsvpmaker_email_content] shortcode for dynamically generated content such as confirmation messages. The right column contains a heading block, followed by the latest-posts block to display the latest blog posts (where the idea is to encourage the person who has registered for an event to explore other website content).
Note: I had to use several hacks to make the two columns display acceptably on a mobile email client:
You can use a sample template provided by MailChimp, or created using MailChimp’s design tools, as the basis for a template you can use within the RSVPMaker mailer tool — including messages RSVPMaker handles itself, such as confirmation messages, as well as messages to be submitted to MailChimp via their API.
For this example, I started with a MailChimp sample design for a fictional gallery promoting a featured exhibit. I then turned it into an RSVPMaker confirmation email template suitable for being used in conjunction with a gallery talk event.
MailChimp uses nested tables for its basic layouts, then adds CSS on top tagged to different table cells.
The process of adapting the MailChimp template to work with RSVPMaker follows this pattern:
Use the Export as HTML option in MailChimp to get the code for one of the templates in your account that you want to use.
Place the [rsvpmaker_email_content] shortcode in the table cell where dynamically generated content such as your confirmation message should appear.
Add CSS as necessary to make your content look good in the template.
Alter MailChimp’s CSS as necessary to allow you to achieve the effects you want. I had to remove some of the default MailChimp code for link styling to get the RSVP button to display properly.
Gallery Event Template
Here is the original MailChimp sample design I started with:
The latest update to RSVPMaker focuses on more design freedom and better consistency for confirmation messages, reminder messages, and email broadcasts.
This push was inspired in part by a recent post on the SendGrid blog, How to Send On-Brand Confirmation Emails (+ Examples). Having noticed some shortcomings in the formatting of RSVPMaker email messages (which were annoying me as much as anyone), this project had been on my todo list anyway. The examples in SendGrid’s article nudged me to put it at the top of the list.
Here’s an example of a confirmation message for a wedding, created using these new capabilities, with the correct formatting for a section laid out using the Gutenberg columns block and a centered image below the spot where the registration details are included:
More than a year after releasing the first version of RSVPMaker with support for Gutenberg (the WordPress “block editor” introduced with 5.0), I now have an editor sidebar implementation I’m pretty happy with.
What you see below is a composite image of 2 screenshots.
What you see on the left are the most basic RSVPMaker settings (when does the event start and end? and are we collecting RSVPs?) as they’ve been added to the Document tab of the standard Gutenberg sidebar. I do that to make these basic elements of editing an event date as accessible as possible.
The insert on the right shows an additional sidebar, specific to RSVPMaker, that I can get to by clicking the calendar icon at the top of the screen. This additional sidebar provides access to a longer list of RSVPMaker settings: not just date and time, but also the email address to send registration notifications to, whether there is a maximum number of registrations to be accepted, and so on.
There are still a few more complex settings, such as those for event pricing online payments, where I direct users to a separate RSVP / Event Options screen. But I want them to be able to accomplish most tasks without delivering the editor.
Meanwhile, here are my tips on how to cope with the current state of things.
Advantage of Dynamic Loading
Site visitors may briefly see a “Loading …” message while event posts are being retrieved.
https://rsvpmaker.com/ wp-json/rsvpmaker/v1/type/featured (events tagged with the event type “featured”)
RSVPMaker Widget plugin
A separate RSVPMaker Widget plugin is available for download as a zip file (and pending as a submission to the wordpress.org plugin repository). I have been using it on websites where the full RSVPMaker is not active or needed.
Example: a WordPress multisite implementation for a Toastmasters district, where divisions within the district have their own blogs but RSVPMaker is not active on those subordinate sites. Instead, RSVPMaker is active on the main domain, and division-specific events are designated with an RSVPMaker Type tag.
The RSVPMaker Widgets plugin allows me to display a listing of each division’s events on the division site homepages, while still maintaining a single calendar of events from across the district.
On a WordPress site, you can use the Custom HTML widget or the Custom HTML editor block to add this code (assuming it’s allowed by your site security) as an alternative to installing the RSVPMaker Widget plugin.
RSVPMaker now integrates with PayPal via its REST application programming interface (API).
If you previously set up integration with the older Express Checkout / NVP API method, RSVPMaker still supports it. PayPal also still supports it but is not adding new features to that version. You probably want to switch to the new method anyway because the user experience is better and more tightly integrated with your website.
The pay by PayPal / pay by credit card buttons will appear as part of the confirmation message when someone registers for one of your events.
Attendees who click on the PayPal button will get a pop up prompt inviting them to log in and pay.
Those who prefer to pay by credit card can click one of the credit card icons (or the button on the screen above that says Pay with Debit of Credit Card) and be prompted for credit card information.
To obtain the required credentials for the REST API, go to developer.paypal.com and log in with your PayPal password. The developer’s dashboard allows you to register multiple sandbox accounts for testing and create an app for your integration. Creating an app just means you are generating the API access keys required for the integration with RSVPMaker. Just give your app a name, associate it with a sandbox account for testing, and click the Create App button.
Then copy the keys (the client id and client secret) for both the Sandbox (test) and Live versions of the app.
Once you have copied and pasted all the credentials, into the Payments Tab of the RSVPMaker settings, it’s a good idea to toggle the Operating Mode setting from Production to Sandbox. Create a sample event with sample pricing and test the integration. For testing, you can make payments using one of the sandbox accounts associated with your developer account on PayPal, which is funded by imaginary money.
Once you are satisfied that everything is working properly, go to the Payments tab in RSVPMaker settings and toggle the integration from Sandbox to Production to accept live payments.
When people contact me with reports that RSVPMaker is misbehaving in some way on their websites, figuring out whether the problem is due to a flaw in my code and/or interaction with some other plugin is tricky business. This can be made more complicated by WordPress features that hide error and warning messages from being publicly displayed — a good practice, but one that can frustrate access to debugging information.
Here’s the debug logging setup I recommend adding to wp-config.php – so you can track down errors when necessary without them being publicly displayed:
The debug file location will vary based on your server setup, but for example on my sites /home/mysite/public_html/ is where publicly visible files go, so /home/mysite/ is a more secure location for a debug log that you don’t want someone attacking your site to be able to access (bugs are sometimes opportunities for hacks).
Should come before the line that says:
/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */
Note: these debug log files can grow large after a while, so you might have to periodically delete the file and then let it regenerate as new error and warning messages are generated. Then go try to perform whatever action wasn’t working for you.
On systems that include the Cpanel utility (or something similar), I typically use that to view and delete log files.
The basic idea behind RSVPMaker is that every event is a post — an event post, rather than a blog post — meaning you use all the same authoring and editing tools, but event posts have a date and time associated with them.
When you add a new event post, you will be prompted to enter the date and time up front, along some basic details like whether you want to collect RSVPs (registrations). You can also use RSVPMaker to announce events for which no registration is required.
Once an event post is loaded into the editor, you can change the date and time using a calendar widget that appears in the sidebar (assuming you’re using the Gutenberg editor introduced with WordPress 5.0). To change other parameters, including pricing for an events you charge for, navigate to the RSVP / Event Options screen associated with each post.
You will see several submenu options under RSVP / Event Options, which will take you to the screens for customizing confirmation and reminder messages and for customizing the registration form.
In RSVPMaker, your confirmation message is also modeled at as a WordPress post that you can edit as you would any other content. Reminder messages work much the same way, except that they have a specific interval relative to your event date / time associated with them. The reminder message headline becomes the subject line of the email message, and the body copy becomes the content of the email message.
The RSVPMaker form is modeled as a series of custom content blocks that specify the data you want to gather from each person who registers (details).
When you are editing a form, a confirmation message, or a reminder message, you will see a navigation option in the black admin menu at the top of the screen that allows you to navigate back to editing or viewing the parent event post. First, make sure you save your work.
Multi-Date Events and Event Templates
RSVPMaker allows you to create a single event that stretches across multiple dates — so one registration (if you’re taking registrations) for an event that lasts all weekend.
The more common requirement is to support events that recur on a weekly or monthly schedule, with many of the details repeated each time. For example, the local Chamber of Commerce holds a breakfast meeting on the first Wednesday of the month at a standard location, and the phone number to call with questions is always the same. We need to be able to account for occasions when the schedule or meeting place changes, and we want to be able to add details about a specific month’s event.
For that, use an Event Template. The template defines the standard meeting schedule and the details that should be included in every event listing by default. From an Event Template, you can create a series of events along the projected schedule (all those first Wednesdays in my example). Each of these events will include the content and the settings specified in the template, including details like event pricing.
Each individual event can then be edited individually, for example to add the names of a guest speaker. If the Event Template changes, perhaps because your standard meeting place has changed, you can update any previously published future events with the new details. (More about Events and Event Templates).
Many event parameters can also be changed on the RSVPMaker Settings screen on the WordPress dashboard. For example, you can specify whether the feature for collecting RSVPs should be on or off by default. A link from the settings screen allows you to create a standard RSVP form to be used if a custom one has not been defined.
The settings screen is also where you would enter the required credentials for the PayPal or Stripe payment services or the MailChimp email broadcast service.
One of the keys to using RSVPMaker effectively is taking advantage of event templates. Like the rest of RSVPMaker, the templates feature has been updated for the new Gutenberg editor.
Templates allow you to create one or many events that follow a regular schedule and that share some basic details like meeting location and who to contact with questions.
Think of it like the relationship between the cookie and the cookie cutter, where you can stamp out one or many cookies that start out the same, but you still have the option of decorating them all differently, with details specific to a particular event date.
On the other hand, if you’ve created many placeholder events based on your template and you change the template (say, because your meeting location has changed) — you can update those related events. You can update them all, or update them selectively (if you don’t want to overwrite information you’ve added for a specific event date).