Ditching Outlook. What's a Good Shared Calendar?

I work for a company with less than 5 employees, and as a result, we all end up wearing a lot of hats. Though I am by no means a real TechnoGuru, I am what we have.

When our company started, I figured out a cool feature with Outlook 2000 that enabled all of us to share our Outlook calendars with each other. Basically, we each have a version of everyone else’s calendar in our outlook folder list, and throughout the day, Outlook sends a ton of little synchronization messages to the other members of the group; thus, we all have the ability to see everyone else’s updated calendars at any given time.

Well, we are ditching Outlook and moving to Eudora most likely. Also, when we FINALLY upgrade to Office XP (assuming that ever happens), I know that Outlook XP does not have this feature.

Does anyone know of a good solution for a small office like this to share calendars? It’s mainly important so that the President’s assistant can schedule meetings for him from her desk, etc.

We do not have our own server or Outlook server. The other people in my company are pretty picky and will not take kindly to learning anything too detailed. Does Eudora have this functionality?

Sorry for the multitude of questions; despite my usual skill at googling, I have come up empty for valid solutions.

Come to me, TechnoGurus.

Congratulations!

For a shared calendar, you can write one in FileMaker pretty easily if you want EVERYONE to share the SAME calendar. If, instead, you want EACH person to have their own PERSONAL calendar in addition to which you want an administrator’s calendar that shows all of the invididual people’s various appointments and whatnot so as to schedule a COLLECTIVE event, you can do that in FileMaker as well but you’ll have to pipe a long and significantly more complex series of relationships between the monthfile and the appointments file.

I can get you a line on pre-built shrink-wrapped versions if you want. (I tend to write my own).

Yahoo! gives you a shareable calendar with their free email account. As a plus, your individual calendars can be synched to Outlook if you ever go to it.

I haven’t actually used any of the sharing functions, so I can’t say how well they work. But hey, it’s free. Give it a shot.

[QUOTE]
*Originally posted by AHunter3 *
I can get you a line on pre-built shrink-wrapped versions if you want. (I tend to write my own). QUOTE]

Thanks for your helpful reply. I have downloaded the trial version of FileMaker and it looks like something I can definitely lose myself in learning over the next few weeks.

I would like to hear about any pre-built versions if it’s not too much trouble (but thanks about the FileMaker tip!!) It looks like, to build a few of the things I want to do in the future, it will take LOTS of learnin’ in FM.

I’d take a look at Groove ( www.groove.com ). It’s a collaborative workspace tool. It’s a little…inefficient, but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.

(full disclosure: I worked there as a summer intern 2 years ago, but stand to gain absolutely nothing from this plug. Mods, if this is a problem, feel free to delete my post.)

a) Create a new file from scratch, blank (not using a template or anything). Define the following fields:




Date                   Text
Time                   Time
Description            Text
Attending              Text, Repeating field with 20 repetitions
MakeKey                Text
ViewKey                Calculation, of type Text, = Extend(Date)&Attending -- Repeating field, 20 reps
UnivKey                Calculation, of type Number, = 1


b) Create a second new file from scratch, also blank from scratch. Define the following fields:




Year                   Number
Month                  Number
NameView               Global, of type Text
UnivKey                Calculation, of type Number, = 1
Date1st                Calculation, of type Text = TextToDate(Month&"/"&1&"/"&Year)&NameView
Date2nd                Calculation, of type Text = TextToDate(Month&"/"&2&"/"&Year)&NameView
...etc to
Date31st               Calculation, of type Text = TextToDate(Month&"/"&31&"/"&Year)&NameView
g.SetYear              Global, Number
g.SetMonth             Global, Number


Now preload this file with some data. Go to the ScripMaker and create and run the following script:




Set Field [g.SetYear,1999]
Set Field [g.SetMonth, 0]
Loop
  Exit Loop If [g.SetYear>2100]
  Set Field [g.SetYear, g.SetYear + 1]
  Loop
    Set Field [g.SetMonth, g.SetMonth + 1]
    Exit Loop If [g.SetMonth>12]
    New Record
    Set Field [Year, g.SetYear]
    Set Field [Month, g.SetMonth]
  End Loop
End Loop



Now open Define Relationships and define 31 relationships, one for each of the 31 possible days in the month –




Second File                    First File

Date1st                     MakeKey
Date2nd                     MakeKey
Date3rd                     MakeKey
etc

create also the following keys to allow administrators to view all folks' appointments for a given date:

Date1st                    ViewKey
Date2nd                    ViewKey
Date3rd                    ViewKey
etc


One more thing. Go back into your first file and create a relationship to the second file from UnivKey to UnivKey. Then change the field definition of Attending. Click the Options button and set it to auto-enter the value of NameView from the second file by selecting the UnivKey relationship from the dropdown list of relationships and picking that field.

Now create a GUI and you’ve got a solution:

In the second file, the one in which you’ve just created all those relationships, go into Layout Mode and use the portal tool to create 31 portals, each to a different date relationship. Put the ones that go to MakeKey in the other file all one the same layout. When you’re done, drag fields onto those portals – one for Time, one for Description. At the top of the page put the Year and Month fields, and put the global field NameView there with a drop-down value list (Format: Field); define a value list of all the employees using Define Value List from this same dialog *.

Now you’ve got a calendar with each month on a separate record for all the months between January 1 2000 to December 31 2100. You can click into any day of the month and enter an appointment for the person selected in NameView. This calendar is muli-user and can be used by a dozen or more people simultaneously if you turn on sharing (File: Sharing), or by a couple hundred if you put it on a dedicated server and serve it up using FileMaker Server.

Make a similar layout except using the other 31 relationships, the ones that tie to ViewKey instead of MakeKey, and you’ve got an administrative view of everyone’s appointments all in one peek.

  • Now that you’ve gotten this far, let’s replace that static value list of employees with a third file called Employees. Define fields for first name, last name, full name (calc, text, = first name&" "&last name), position, date of hire, salary, and so forth, and include a field for email address. Go back to the second file and change the value list definition to reference the new Employees file and display all values for full name. Define also a relationship from NameKey in the second file to Full Name in Employees; define new global field, g.EmailMsg (text) in field definitions and then you can define a script in the ScriptMaker:



Send Mail [ To: Employees::Full Name, Subject: new appointment, Message: “Please be advised that you've been scheduled for a new appointment...”,]

Now put a button in each portal and have the button perform the script and after entering an appointment you can have FileMaker auto-launch your email program and send out an alert email.

And you can have a script that goes into your first file every morning and looks for appointments for that date and sends out email to everyone attending.

Play with it 

By February you'll be running your entire business with this thing :)

Well, I don’t use this type of thing, but my last 2 posts happened to involve open source researching, so - [ul][li]Chandler - has the disadvantage of not actually being finished yet…[/li][li]Ximian Evolution - compatible with Outlook, but only runs on Linux/Solaris/nix.[/li][][url=]Kroupware’s Kolab - Can replace an Exchange server, but requires a 3rd party plugin that costs $.[/ul]So not real helpful for you probably, but perhaps someone else will find it useful.

PillowPhat, here’s a downloadable multi-user FileMaker Pro calendar solution, includes free demo model. Should work with your demo copy of FileMaker itself.

(not the Calendar plug-in, but the multi-user calendar farther down the page)

Mozilla has a built in calendar and publishing capability to a colaboration server that should do what you want. I don’t think it is compiled in by default on the current releases, but it seems to work fine.

Mozilla Calendar also allows publishing to iCalShare


http://icalshare.com/