GroupCalendar™ for Outlook® user manual
The default settings for database and group calendar folder in Outlook are not being discussed in this manual. They can be found in the installation manual.
Because there are three versions with slightly different feature, this manual first discusses the common features and after that the version specific differences.
- Nick name
Overview (grid view)
- Group/filter by department
- Group/filter by appointment type
- Date range
(Version SetupUK en
- what is synchronization
- manual vs. automatic
- periodic checks in GCSystray
- fast mode
- refresh GroupCalendar
- export calendar
- select date range
- Appointments in the personal calendar for everyone to see
- Private appointment with obscured details
- Creating fully hidden appointments
as a delegate
- Creating appointments for others
- Editing Appointments for others
- Deleting appointments of others (not)
- General appointments (announcements / group items)
- Tip to reduce clutter
others (all versions)
- Checking the email address format
Disconnected from the network
How to create a filter that
shows only appointments of people in the same department
- Some other filters you can create
How to use GroupCalendar for resource scheduling (conference rooms, cars, ...)
GroupCalendar™ is a multilingual application. Switching to another language is an easy task.
Settings - select language - OK
User specific settings
Try menu Settings - Edit user Info .. , a number of user adjustable settings can be reached.
The GroupCalendar program determines usernames automatically. More info on what it does and how to change them can be found in the Tech. background section.
By clicking the green
arrow keys for 'previous user' and 'next user', all known users are shown one by
one and the Department value can be altered in the corresponding field.
The department value plays an important role in both the Grid view and for filtered views in Outlook to selectively display groups of users. All users with the same department value can easily be selected from the Grid view with one click in the department selection list.
The field that
shows the value 'Joe' in the screen on the right is the field where a short
name can be specified to display the appointments with in the Group Calendar
folder or Grid View. The green arrow buttons are not used to specify this nick
name. This setting can only be altered by the logged on user.
When a (new) short name is entered, the new name will be used from that moment on. To update existing appointments with the new short name, the 'export' button must be pressed The export button can be found in the 'sync groupcalendar' form.
For assistants or
managers that want to see the contents of the Group Calendar but don't want
their personal calendar to join in the group it is possible to disable the
monitoring of the personal calendar by GroupCalendar™.
It will still be possible to create appointments in the Group Calendar folder in Outlook® for others (SetupUKDA)
When Outlook® starts it displays a message that the personal calendar is being monitored. Some people find this distracting and can choose to disable the message although that is not the advised setting. The message is only visible for a couple of seconds during the startup of Outlook®. Should the GroupCalendar™ add-in fail to load, there are two redundancy features built in to ensure that the appointments in the personal calendar still reflect in the Group Calendar. The first is GCHELPER.EXE that tests every 30 seconds if the add-in is still operating as it should and fix it if it's not. The second feature is in gcsystray, where it compares every hour if the database content corresponds to the personal calendar content.
There is a message disabling setting for the mutation or creation of appointments by delegates as well. Normally a message comes up when delegates edit or create appointments for other users.
View (grid view)
The Grid View button
The Grid View shows the contents of the GroupCalendar™ database in real-time. As such it is independent of the synchronization settings that keep the Group Calendar folder in Outlook® up to date with the database. Apart from that it has some great filtering and grouping options built-in that are hard to achieve in Outlook® alone.
Grouping by department
Using the Departments selection list it is possible to filter the available database information and show only appointments belonging to group members with the selected Department value set in [Settings, Edit User Info].
Group by Type
When creating an appointment in Outlook® it defaults to the status 'Busy'. However one can change that value into Free, Tentative or Out of Office.
This value can be used to further filter the available information and show only appointments that correspond to the value chosen on the left.
De buttons 1,5,7,31 show information about the corresponding number of days. The arrow keys ( < > ) shift the view on the chosen range up or down with a value lower than the chosen range. In other words when a day is in view, it shifts one hour. When a week is in view it shifts a day and when a month is in view it shifts a week.
The green sliders
work as a magnifier for the X or Y axis.
The today button jumps to the current date.
Normal day shows 24 hours while work day shows 10 hours.
The entire window can be enlarged by hovering the mouse in the corner and grabbing/dragging it. The available information can be printed as well.
Recognizing the Installed version
Version SetupUKEx can be recognized by the fact that is does not have a 'Sync. GroupCalendar' button.
Version SetupUK does have a 'Sync. GroupCalendar' button but it does not have a 'edit appointment' button.
Version SetupUKDA has both a 'Sync. GroupCalendar' button as an 'edit appointment' button.
UKEx should be used
when the Group
Calendar folder is a shared Public folder on the Exchange server. (synchronization
UKDA can be used when one has to make appointments for other people or always use only the Group Calendar folder in Outlook.
UK can be used when one does not have to act as a delegate and does not want to do anything else then work in the personal calendar and look in the group calendar.
The button to open the synchronization options form.
What is it ?
Synchronization is the process that shows the user in Outlook® what other users have in their personal calendars.
Synchronization translates database records to appointments in the Outlook® group calendar folder. It also creates appointments in the personal calendar of the user when another user created that in the group calendar for that user.
Synchronization also cleans out old appointments from the Outlook group calendar folder if those appointments are no longer related to a database record because the owner of the appointment removed it from their personal calendar or applied the 'hide string @@@' to that appointment.
in other words:
- Synchronization shows what others have in their personal calendars.
- Synchronization creates appointments made by delegates
- Synchronization cleans out old appointments
Manual vs. automatic synchronization
One can start a synchronization at any time manually or leave it up to the auto sync. tool that runs in the system tray next to the clock. The interval is adjustable from 5 to 120 minutes.
To enable the auto sync. tool, the checkbox 'Launch Auto-sync on Outlook start-up' must be ticked. (the Start Autosync button will also start it but will not start it automatically at Outlook® restart)
If auto sync is active, the calendar icon will be displayed next to the clock in the system tray. A right-click on it will show the interval settings.
Redundancy features in Gcsystray
Independent from the chosen synchronization interval, every hour there will be a check of both the database as the personal calendar to make sure that all appointments planned for the next 30 days are in the database. This check makes sure that even when something went wrong in Outlook® and the real-time monitoring failed, the appointments are still being recorded in the GroupCalendar™ .
The box 'enable fast mode' should be on by default. The purpose of this is that if a certain appointment can't be located in the Outlook® folder at synchronization it continues to search for it in a number of different ways. Normally this should not be disabled but some Outlook® versions without service packs will find that the synchronization works better without it.
A normal synchronization will only create or edit the appointments in the Outlook® group calendar folder that changed since the last synchronization. The refresh option will clean out everything and recreate it again. This can be useful for appointments that are corrupted and no longer respond normally. Again a feature that is used only in case of problems.
(re) Export my calendar...
This button will create a record in the database for every appointment scheduled in the future and share the information with the other users of the same database. This is a nice feature to quickly restore a central database in case it is broken or deleted by someone. in such a case a clean database would be placed on the network and pressing the button will fill it with all future appointment and as such recreate the group schedule again.
Select date range or synchronize all appointments
This checkbox changes the behavior of the synchronize button. Without ticking this checkbox the synchronize button will check all appointments in the GroupCalendar™ database and modify or add the items that have been edited in the database after the last synchronization. The checkbox gives the user the option to select only a specific date range for synchronization. Only the selected range will be filled with appointments and everything outside the selected range will be removed from the view.
- De progress
counter adds up to 100% when synchronizing but it may need some extra time to
finish processing and close the synchronization form.
- De synchronization will not check if a user made a change to an appointment in the group calendar folder without pressing the Edit button first. Changes by a user to appointments in the group calendar without clicking Edit first will not result in changes that are visible to other users! The incorrectly changed appointment will only be corrected after pressing the refresh option.
Creating appointments in the personal calendar for others to see.
No special actions are required to share/show appointments with/to others. An appointment that has been created in the personal calendar will be visible to others automatically with the full name of the user in-between brackets or (when set) the short name.
Creating private appointments that show as busy without details to others
When an existing appointment is being clicked with the right mouse button, the option to make it private is being presented. This will hide all details of the appointment from other users. Other users can only see that the user is busy but not why.
Creating a hidden appointment
To hide an appointment from others it must contain a special string in the text field. When the string @@@ is added to an existing appointment it will get removed from the GroupCalendar™ database.
Acting as a delegate
Creating appointments for others
To be able to create
an appointment for another user, the other user must have GroupCalendar™
installed as well so the other users' username is known in the system.
Select the GroupCalendar™ folder in Outlook® and create a new appointment by:
- Selecting a time range in the Group Calendar folder, entering the subject and pressing Enter. Or,
- By clicking the New button in the upper left corner and entering the details of the appointment and clicking Save&close.
Now GroupCalendar™ will ask the following question:
Answering No to this question will create it in the Personal calendar. Answering Yes to this question will display a list with users currently using GroupCalendar:
Now one or more user can be selected to receive the appointment in their personal calendars.
Clicking ok will show the appointment in the GroupCalendar folder with the name of the creator in-between brackets and the name of the designated user in-between vertical lines.
The above appointment was created by Joe for Lars.
synchronization by the designated user (Lars), the ownership will change and
the other user will be owner of the appointment. It will also show in the
From that moment on, the other user's name will show in-between brackets.
The name and creation date & time will be logged in the appointment that a delegate creates or edits for another user.
You can create an appointment for another user (in the Group Calendar folder) and add @@@ to the body of the appointment. When the other user synchronizes the appointment will move into his personal calendar but will NOT become visible in the Group Calendar.
Editing appointment as a delegate
Before trying to edit an appointment in the GroupCalendar folder in Outlook®, the 'Edit 'button must be pressed. Otherwise the change will go by unnoticed.
Clicking the Edit
button will bring up the Group Calendar folder in Outlook® and the button will
show another image and text.
And an instruction appears
the OK button the Edit button icon changes again to indicate that it is
recording the changes.
Now one or more appointments in the Group Calendar can be changed. The moment the user selects another button or folder the icon will change back to the Pencil icon again and changes will no longer be accepted.
After saving the
edited appointment, the subject will change just like when a new appointment for
another user is made showing | for: ...| and the other user's name.
As long as the other user does not synchronize with the database, the appointment can be edited again.
Deleting appointments of other people
Deleting appointments has not been enabled in the GroupCalendar™ software. The workaround to this is to edit the subject and/or move it to a non standard timeslot (midnight). let us know if you really need the option to delete appointments of others and it will be added to the software.
Trying to delete an appointment will display the following notification:
After this message the group calendar will be resynchronized and the appointment that was deleted will be displayed again.
Adding general appointments and events
When an appointment is added to the personal calendar, it will display in the group calendar as well. When an appointment is added to the group calendar it will go from there into either the users personal calendar or into another users calendar depending on the answer to the question "is this an appointment for another user?". However both methods don't enable users to create events (deadlines, meetings, festivities) in the group calendar that remain in there without transferring (ownership) into any personal calendars. This can only be accomplished by first creating a new 'user' in the database that will be used for this kind of events. To create such a user, open the database on the network, open table TB_Users and add a new record to it with a name like "Everyone" or "All" or "Event" anything goes.. even "-". After this users can create events in the group calendar and when asked if the appointment is for another user, select the newly create name in the list of users. When outlook® 2002/2003 is being used one can also select a label color for that kind of events to make them better recognizable.
to reduce clutter
You can create an appointment for another user (in the Group Calendar folder) and add @@@ to the body of the appointment. When the other user synchronizes, the appointment will move into his personal calendar but will NOT become visible in the Group Calendar.
This feature can be used if you want to reduce the clutter in the group calendar when planning for meetings with several people. You would have to do the following:
- Create an item
in the Group Calendar and add @@@ to the body of it
- Answer YES when asked if it is for another user
- Select all meeting attendees from the list
- Select the GENERAL user as well (who does not exists)
After synchronization by everyone, you will have only the GENERAL user in the Group Calendar but all attendees will have it in their personal calendar and get a reminder from that.
Inviting others by email
Check the message format
As an alternative to creating items in another users' calendar one can choose to invite the other user using the standard outlook email functionality.
If you want to invite someone, you use the 'Attendee Availability' tab.
However for the invitation to come across over
the internet in the right format you must first create the people you want to
invite in your outlook contacts folder.
Make sure you right-click on the email address and select "Always send... rich-text format"
Using the Group Calendar without a connection to the network
Laptop users can continue to use the GroupCalendar™ when disconnected from the shared database on the company network.
The configuration of a laptop is nothing different from a network connected pc. GroupCalendar™ detects if a connection is available and if the shared database can be reached. If not it will fall back to a local buffer, the Backdrop.mdb database, on the local computers' hard disk.
Once the connection is reestablished the local buffer is emptied into the central database automatically.
Offline users will notice that Outlook responds slower then usual. This can be improved by ticking the checkbox under the INFO button to tell GroupCalendar™ that it should not look for the central database but work off-line instead.
How to create a filter that shows only appointments of people from the same department.
Open the "edit user info" dialog
Select the users in the database (use the green arrows) and fill in the Department field
Select the Group Calendar folder
Select the "Define views" dialog.
In Outlook 2000 and XP that's: View, Current View,Define Views.
In Outlook 2003 that's: View, Arrange By, Current View, Define Views.
Type a name for your view. Start with a simple day/week/month view. Try the other types later.
Click the "Filter" button.
Click the "Advanced" Tab
Click on the Field button and select the Departmnt field.
Type the code (in this case – Sales) into the Value field and click "Add to List"
Click "OK" and "Apply View"
The view is now ready for use.
To switch quickly between the different views, enable the advanced toolbar.
Enable the advanced toolbar through view (see opposite) or right click on the toolbar and click on advanced.
Switch between views quickly from the drop down list on the 'Advanced Toolbar'
Examples of other filters :
Based on a number of people, selected by name:
Based on a string in the text of the appointment.
Based on the status, for instance all "free time"
How to use GroupCalendar for resource scheduling (conference rooms, cars, ...)
GroupCalendar can be used for resource scheduling a unique code must be set for
the resource. Everyone who books
the resource must ensure that the same code is entered for each resource.
In this example we will create a filter for our projector. To recognize the projector by a unique string we give it the name @P@.
The @ sign is used as appointments are not usually made with this sign in the subject.
So let's create the filter we need:
Step 1: Select the Group Calendar Folder.
Step 2: Select menu: View, Current View, Define views
Step 3: Press the NEW button and type a
description for your view : Projector Booking and select "Day/Week/Month"
before pressing OK
Step 4: Press the Filter button and type the unique code that is going to be used: "@P@" and press OK
That's all there is to it.
Don't forget to enable the Advanced toolbar (View, Toolbars, Advanced) which gives a dropdown list of all your views and filters. So every view is only one click away.
If you require further help let us know
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