Event templates are important to how the RSVPMaker program included in WordPress for Toastmasters manages events, particularly meeting events.
Your meeting event template reflects the standard setup of a meeting: number of speakers, number of evaluators, timing for events, and so on. You create copies of the template according to your meeting schedule for the individual meeting events. At any time, you can update the event template and all the events based on the template. However, this is a 2-step process: after updating the template you will get a prompt to Create/Update events based on the latest version of the template.
As of a May 2021 update, RSVPMaker will send a reminder if it detects you have updated a template without updating the events based on the template. People often seem to forget this step, or else they don’t understand why it is necessary.
Why Isn’t This Automatic?
You might think the software would automatically update the whole series of events. That is often the result you are after when you update the template. However, there are a couple of reasons to keep it as a second step:
- Finality. The software doesn’t necessarily know when you’re done updating the template. You may have saved your work but still be adding or rearranging elements.
- Selectivity. The Create/Update routine allows you to check off which existing events you want to update. You can update just a couple while you’re testing. You can update all of them. Or you can update most of them, leaving a few unchecked. Events can be modified independently of the template, and you might not want to overwrite those changes.
The Create/Update screen shows you when an event has been modified independently of the template. Perhaps in the example shown above I’ve made room for an extra speaker at that week’s meeting and don’t want to overwrite those modifications.
The Magic Cookie Cutter
I sometimes compare templates to cookie cutters, which can be used to stamp out individual cookies (events).
Each of the cookies can still be decorated differently. Think of the role signups and speech titles as the sprinkles and frosting. The cookie retains the same basic shape, based on the cookie cutter, but can still be unique.
Occasionally, you might reshape a cookie significantly. For Halloween, you stamp out a gingerbread man but then graft on an extra head and tear off his arm. The Toastmasters meeting equivalent would be dropping a speech and adding more time for Table Topics. Now you’ve got a special cookie that no longer follows the template exactly.
One difference: this is a magic cookie cutter. Each of the individual cookies remains under its spell and can be reshaped at any time to match the new shape of the cookie cutter. The sprinkles on top stay where they are, unless the cookie has been reshaped so significantly that there is no place for them.
To bring it back to events and event templates: each event based on a template retains a link back to the template. When you update the template, you can update all of those events or just some of them. If a member has signed up for a role at a future event, they will still be signed up for that role — unless the role has been eliminated. For example, you want to be careful about changing the number of speakers from three to two if three speakers had previously signed up.
Finding the Template for an Event
If you edit an event that is based on a template, you should see a prompt at the top of the editor screen telling you to edit the template instead if your goal is to edit the whole series of events. (If you want to edit this event separately, you can do that, too.)
The option to edit a template also appears on the dropdown list of options for an event post at the top of the screen.
Or you can find all your events listed on the Event Templates screen, which is a menu item under RSVP Events on the administrator’s dashboard.