As a contractor, it's important that I make myself accessible to my clients. I am typically set up with an e-mail account, but that may not be the calendar I use for my day-to-day appointments. In previous versions of Outlook, I was able to export my calendar to an Excel file or print out a monthly summary, scan it, and e-mail it to whomever was trying to schedule an appointment with me.
While this process became second nature; it was still cumbersome, as it required a couple of days' turnaround time for the client's assistant to get in touch with me to let me know that he or she needed my calendar. Then, I would have to get off of an airplane long enough to get the assistant information about my schedule. Fortunately, there's now a better way.
Vista users may have already discovered the Windows Calendar feature. But Office 2007 offers a feature that's great even for those still on Windows XP. The Publish Calendar feature in Outlook 2007 lets you publish your calendar on the Internet for a set span of time so that anyone you grant access to can view it in Outlook 2007 or in an Internet browser window. While your free/busy information won't appear in the scheduling window of a new appointment, they'll be able to get up-to-the-minute information about where you'll be at a particular time simply by refreshing the URL in a browser window. Here's a look at how it works.To take advantage of this functionality, all you need is Outlook 2007 and a Windows Live ID (what you use to login to your Hotmail account). Start by opening your Outlook 2007 calendar and clicking Publish My Calendar in the left navigation pane (Figure A). You will be prompted to log in with your Windows Live ID later on in the publishing process. Figure A Choose the details about the time span you'd like to publish (Figure B). For instance, if you just want people to be able to see the details of your appointments for the next month, you can limit their subscription to your data in this window. A lot of my contracts are for three months or six months, so this feature is perfect for me. I don't have to worry about proprietary information showing up after I my engagement is up. There is also an option under Advanced settings that lets you publish the calendar one time and not send any updates. Figure B
You can limit the details from free/busy information to the full details and notes in each appointment. And I make sure to grant permission only to those I invite (steps shown later). Click OK, and you will be prompted to log in to Windows Live. When the process is complete, a confirmation screen will appear (Figure C). Figure C
Click Yes to see the URL of your published calendar and send an e-mail inviting people to subscribe to your calendar. If they're also using Outlook 2007, the e-mail will include a Subscribe To This Calendar button (Figure D). Figure D
In Outlook 2007, subscribers can view your published calendar side by side (Figure E) or they can overlay it with their own. Figure E
If they don't have Outlook 2007, they can still view the shared calendar by following the URL provided in the e-mail (Figure F). Figure F
Data is refreshed every 20 minutes, but to get up-to-the-minute data, subscribers can simply paste the URL to your published calendar back into a browser window to receive the most recent updates before scheduling a new meeting.To change time span (if the contract is extended!), simply click Publish My Calendar again to change the settings. To add more users, right-click on your Calendar in the left navigation pane and click Publish To Internet - Share Published Calendar (Figure G). Figure G
Tiffany Songvilay is a Microsoft Office Specialist and co-author of So That's How! 2007 Microsoft Office System: Timesavers, Breakthroughs, & Everyday Genius. She has presented productivity scenarios at Microsoft's Convergence, ITEC Conference and Exhibition, and for IAAP. Currently engaged as a business analyst for Microsoft Enterprise customers, she designs and implements training plans that help companies transition their workforce smoothly into new technology. Her Office Over Easy blog covers a variety of IT and end user issues.