1. Create Integrations
  2. Testing your Integration
    1. Sync
    2. Delete
  3. Event Data
  4. Next Steps
  5. Getting Help

The iCalendar format is used to describe calendars (and more) in a portable format.

While iCalendar seems simple at first glance, there is quite a lot of nuance to it, especially around things like timezones, recurrence, and event cancellation/deletion. And like all calendar data, it’s really nice to be able to work with it as SQL.

WebhookDB makes it extremely easy to ingest iCalendar feeds into your database. There are just a couple things to do on your side:

  • Create the integrations via the WebhookDB CLI.
  • POST to WebhookDB when a user links an iCalendar URL, which starts a periodic sync.
  • POST to WebhookDB when a user unlinks their calendar, which deletes all rows for the user.

Create Integrations

There are two integrations involved: one for calendars, and one for the events on those calendars.

First we need to create the calendar integration:

webhookdb integrations create icalendar_calendar_v1

You’ll be prompted for the the “webhook secret” (like zd3zate6c5zfs40zyn44gqwm), which will sign requests from your backend. You’ll then be given the “webhook endpoint” (like https://api.webhookdb.com/v1/service_integrations/svi_abc123) which is where you will POST.

Then add the events integration:

webhookdb integrations create icalendar_event_v1

Accept the prompt defaults to link them together.

Testing your Integration

Before we start writing user data, let’s use cURL and a public calendar URL to make sure syncing is working.

We’ll use the public Google Holiday Calendar for testing.

You’ll need your endpoint and webhook secret as well (see ‘Create Integrations’ above).

# These values are from when you created the icalendar_calendar_v1 integration, as above
export WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_ENDPOINT=https://api.webhookdb.com/v1/service_integrations/svi_alaxblg5llvxb2morb9hw4xs2
export WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_SECRET=a3vgdtr0wje0ywjb73ic0ch3n

curl -X POST -d '{"type":"SYNC","external_id":"google-holiday","ics_url":"https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/en.usa%23holiday%40group.v.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics"}' -H "Whdb-Webhook-Secret: ${WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_SECRET}" -H "Content-Type: application/json" "${WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_ENDPOINT}"

That’s it- you will see data flowing into your database almost immediately. You can connect to your database and query it (connection parameters are printed out when you set up the integration, or you can use webhookdb db connection).

If for some reason you get a new refresh token, you can tell WebhookDB about it (set the new one to REFRESH_TOKEN):

curl -X POST -d '{"type":"REFRESHED","external_owner_id":"test-user","refresh_token":"'"${REFRESH_TOKEN}"'"}' -H "Whdb-Webhook-Secret: ${WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_SECRET}" -H "Content-Type: application/json" "${WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_ENDPOINT}"

After you’ve checked out your data, you can delete all the data out of WebhookDB if you want (or you can leave it- it’ll keep syncing, and stop syncing once the token expires; we show how to send new access tokens below).

curl -X POST -d '{"type":"UNLINK","external_owner_id":"test-user"}' -H "Whdb-Webhook-Secret: ${WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_SECRET}" -H "Content-Type: application/json" "${WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_ENDPOINT}"


When a user gives you their URL to sync, you send it to WebhookDB along with the webhook secret:

calendar_url = request.json['ics_url']
# You probably want to store the URL in your database, associated with the user
calendar_id = str(insert_calendar_row_for_user(current_user, calendar_url).id)
# Or we can just make some other unique external id:
# calendar_id = f'{current_user.id}-#{calendar_url}'

# Now update WebhookDB. Can also be done asynchronously/in a job system.
  headers={"Whdb-Webhook-Secret": os.getenv("WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_SECRET")},
    "type": "SYNC", 
    "external_id": calendar_id,
    "ics_url": calendar_url

That’s it! Your events will start syncing immediately. WebhookDB will poll the URL for changes every few hours, based on how often the service updates their iCalendar feeds. Google Calendar, for example, only updates ICS feeds every 8 hours (don’t worry, we update more often than that, to make sure we don’t miss an upstream refresh).

If you ever need to force a sync, you can make the same ‘SYNC’ request.


If your user unlinks their calendar, you should tell WebhookDB so it can delete all the data for that user.

  headers={"Whdb-Webhook-Secret": os.getenv("WEBHOOKDB_ICALENDAR_SECRET")},
    "type": "DELETE",
    "external_id": calendar_id

Event Data

iCalendar is a text format that can be difficult to work with. Most iCalendar client libraries, for example, are incomplete or incorrect in various ways (this isn’t their fault; portable calendars are just really difficult).

This page is a great resource to understand iCalendar fields.

To make the data easier to use, the icalendar_event_v1 parses the iCalendar text.

First, it extracts and schematizes the data into normal columns, like a text array for CATEGORIES, an integer for PRIORITY, and date and timestamp (with timezone) columns for all dates.

Second, the data column gives you access to the parsed-but-unprocessed iCalendar data; you can even use this to reconstruct the original iCalendar text if needed, too, but that should be rare. For example, this VEVENT:

LOCATION:Headquarters\\n1 API Way\\nPortland OR 97214

would be parsed into this data column:

   "DTSTART": {
      "TZID": "America/Los_Angeles",
      "v": "20200220T170000"
   "DTEND": {"v": "20190820T190000Z"},
   "DTSTAMP": {"v": "20230426T152258Z"},
      "CN": "hello@webhookdb.com",
      "v": "mailto:hello@webhookdb.com"
   "UID": {"v": "79396C44-9EA7-4EF0-A99F-5EFCE7764CFE"},
   "ATTENDEE": [
         "CUTYPE": "INDIVIDUAL",
         "PARTSTAT": "ACCEPTED",
         "CN": "hello@webhookdb.com",
         "X-NUM-GUESTS": "0",
         "v": "mailto:hello@webhookdb.com"
   "CREATED": {"v": "20190813T175204Z"},
   "LAST-MODIFIED": {"v": "20230218T223450Z"},
   "LOCATION": {"v": "Headquarters\n1 API Way\nPortland OR 97214"},
   "STATUS": {"v": "CONFIRMED"},
   "SUMMARY": {"v": "Do Good"}

That is, the data parsing will:

  • Provide each property’s value in a "v" field,
  • Parse all property parameters into fields,
  • Normalize the escaped \\r, \\n, and \\t into \r, \n, and \t,
  • Use arrays for array properties like ATTENDEE.

Working with this structured data, rather than parsing raw iCalendar text, means you don’t need to worry about things like parsing parameters with special characters, iCalendar line continuations, and more. If you do need access to the iCalendar text for an event, please email hello@webhookdb.com and ask us to turn it on for you.

Next Steps

Once WebhookDB is syncing, you have two options for getting the data back out:

  1. Use SQL to query the database. Run webhookdb db connection to get your SQL connection string and query your iCalendar tables in your attached WebhookDB database.
  2. Use HTTP Sync to get notified about updates. This is a powerful-but-simple way to update your own database objects whenever changes happen in your attached calendars. Check out the docs on HTTP Sync.

Getting Help

We know from experience that using WebhookDB to sync iCalendar URLs is a lot simpler than doing it yourself- minutes instead of hours or days. But if you need any help, we’re here to assist. Just email hello@webhookdb.com and we’ll get back to you right away.