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Availability Viewer Sample Form

The Availability Viewer is a Microsoft Outlook  form to show you who (or what) is free and who is busy at any given time. It is intended to be just a viewer, not a form for scheduling meetings. You can use it to track the schedule of a group of people who work together or to check when a conference room is free for a meeting. It requires Microsoft Exchange Server or access to an Internet free/busy server.

The latest version (ver 2.01, 4 Sep 1998) has been substantially improved by Siegfried Weber: 

  • The Send command on the File menu is now disabled. (Ver 2.01 makes sure it turns back on when you close the form. See Problems below.)
  • Your own name no longer appears at the top of the list of All Attendees.
  • For Outlook 98 users, if you create a distribution list in the GAL named Everyone, the form will automatically expand that list and populate the All Attendees list with its members.
  • The calendar correctly displays today's date. (Thanks to David Kane at Micro Eye.)

Note that the availability viewer is very similar to the Group Calendar introduced in Outlook 2002.

Setup | Usage | Notes | Limitations | Problems | More Information

Setup

In order to use the Availability Viewer, you must set the people whose schedules you want to track and publish the form:
  1. Download the Availvue.zip file (22.5 kb), then unzip it and open Availability Viewer.oft in Outlook. If you see an enable/disable macros prompt, choose Disable Macros. (Selecting Enable Macros seems to make it impossible to publish the form.)
  2. Click Invite Others and select the people or resources whose availability you want to track. (If you use Outlook 98 and create a distribution list in the GAL named Everyone that contains the people and resources you want to track, this step is unnecessary.)
  3. Publish the form. I suggest that you publish it to the Calendar folder with Viewer as the form name. This will add the command New Viewer to the Compose menu.

You can publish multiple instances of the form -- one to view colleagues' schedules (perhaps call it Staff Viewer) and a separate instance, with a different set of All Attendees, to view resources (perhaps call it Resource Viewer).

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Usage

To use the Availability Viewer form, choose Calendar | New Viewer (assuming you published it to the Calendar folder with a form name of Viewer). If you published it to the Organization Forms library, use Compose | Choose Form (Outlook 97) or Tools | Forms | Choose Form (Outlook 98). When the form opens, it sets the appointment time to right now. Click the AutoPick button to move to the schedule for today, or just move to another date and time. You will see the busy periods for everyone listed under All Attendees. To see more information, right-click any time period marked as Tentative, Busy or Out of Office.

Screen shot of Availability Viewer form (12175 bytes)

The Availability Viewer itself does not schedule appointments, only display free/busy status. (The form has the Reply and Forward actions disabled and also includes a script to try to prevent it from being sent as a meeting request.) However, from the or Actions or Appointment (Outlook 97) , you can choose New Appointment to create a new appointment without returning to the main Outlook window.

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Notes

In Outlook 97 and 98, you can add the Availability Viewer to the Office shortcut bar. In Outlook 2000, you can write a macro and add that macro to an Outlook toolbar button. See:
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Limitations

This form requires Microsoft Exchange Server or access to an Internet free/busy server.

The Availability Viewer itself does not schedule appointments, only display free/busy status.

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Problems

The Send command on the File menu is disabled. This seemed highly desirable, given the number of people who accidentally sent the form by mistake. However, the change is global and affects other Outlook forms that are opened while you have the Availability Viewer open. If this bothers you, you can keep the Send button from being disabled by removing or remarking out the lines in the Open event in the form's code that turn it off. Look for the section with the remark, Disable Send option in the File Menu.
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More Information

   
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