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Outlook shared calendars without Exchange, is it possible?

Posted on 2015-02-04
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Last Modified: 2015-02-08
Our office uses Outlook, but not Exchange. Is there a way to share calendars without Exchange? I'm not interesting in emailing a calendar or using Microsoft's cloud storage (at this point). We have network attached storage on the LAN with shared folders. I'm hoping I can create a calendar file in a shared folder and people can "open" it in Outlook.

For example. I was able to save a calendar to a .pst file in a shared folder, and I can open that .pst file in Outlook and I can see the various calendar entries. But will that work if multiple people try to open it? Unfortunately, I'm not able to test that at the moment. Will try doing so tomorrow.

Ideas?
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Question by:jmarkfoley
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by:VB ITS
VB ITS earned 100 total points
ID: 40590647
For example. I was able to save a calendar to a .pst file in a shared folder, and I can open that .pst file in Outlook and I can see the various calendar entries. But will that work if multiple people try to open it? Unfortunately, I'm not able to test that at the moment. Will try doing so tomorrow.
I can tell you now that you won't be able to do this as only one single person can access a PST file at any given time.

There's unfortunately no free easy way to set up calendar sharing without an Exchange server. You'll need to look a third party solutions, most of which aren't free, to achieve what you want. You can have a look at OfficeCalendar which sounds like it can do what you want. Be warned though that it's not free so you'll have to decide if you think it's worth the investment or not: http://www.officecalendar.com/

If you want to have an idea of what it can do then have a look at the product tour page: http://www.officecalendar.com/products/tour.aspx
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LVL 76

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by:David Lee
ID: 40591231
The answer depends on what "share" means in this context.  You could each publish your calendar online.  Here's a Microsoft page that talks more about that.  If I remember correctly, that would allow you to see free and busy information and calendar details (if you elected to share that).  It's certainly not as full-featured as Exchange and setting it up has some challenges.
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by:jmarkfoley
ID: 40591438
VB ITS:
I can tell you now that you won't be able to do this as only one single person can access a PST file at any given time.
That's disappointing :( news. On the other hand, my shared folder is a samba mount and I've turned off oplocks. That *might* allow several writers and only lock when an update occurs. I will try that later today and post back results, but you're probably right that it won't work.

BlueDevilFan: Yes, I saw that link, but publishing an .ics to outlook.com is static. People can't update that. A revised calendar has to be re-published. Not what I'm going for, so 3rd party might be my only choice. The big problem with VB ITS's suggestion of Office Calendar is that it's $900 per year for 10 users!
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David Lee earned 400 total points
ID: 40591516
On the other hand, my shared folder is a samba mount and I've turned off oplocks. That *might* allow several writers and only lock when an update occurs.  I will try that later today and post back results, but you're probably right that it won't work.

If you're talking about trying that with a .pst file, then you're wasting your time.  They are single use only by design.  The file share features are immaterial.  

Yes, I saw that link, but publishing an .ics to outlook.com is static.

Did you follow the link to publishing on a WEBDAV server?  If not, then you missed the fact that Outlook automatically updates the calendar at an interval you can control.
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by:jmarkfoley
ID: 40591745
OK, I've tried opening the .pst from multiple workstations and no, it doesn't work. The file is obviously open exclusively. "Waste of time"? Well, I learned something ... :)

As to the WebDAV, that looks like my only alternative if I don't want to go 3rd party or write my own! So, what is a WebDAV server? From the link I know it means it must support the World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol. I've never heard of that up till now. I will research this, but a couple of sentence summary and some possible howto links would be appreciated.
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by:David Lee
ID: 40592755
So, what is a WebDAV server?
WebDAV isn't a type of server, it's an extension of the HTTP protocol.  It's any web server that supports the WebDAV protocol.  For example, IIS supports WebDAV.

I will research this, but a couple of sentence summary and some possible howto links would be appreciated.
Here's a page with instructions on how to set this up on an IIS server.
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by:jmarkfoley
ID: 40592950
I'm using Apache, not IIS, but I've located a link to help me configure that: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_dav.html

However, I've needed to post some preliminary questions to get that configured: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Server_Software/Web_Servers/Apache/Q_28611502.html

I'll be back!
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by:jmarkfoley
ID: 40595730
OK, I've set up the DAV server, but 1st problem: The calendar I want to share has the share options grayed out except for E-mail Calendar. Any idea why? (see image)
ShareCalender.jpg
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by:jmarkfoley
ID: 40596492
More ... I've set up the WebDAV server, but it was surprisingly painful for Apache who normally has pretty clear instructions. My struggle is documented here: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Server_Software/Web_Servers/Apache/Q_28612320.html

Otherwise, I've published my Calendar according to the instructions: https://support.office.com/en-au/article/Publish-your-calendar-on-a-WebDAV-server-b2884f2b-8659-4952-850c-b3ad0f701b7e. I've sent a "share" message to another user/location and from the email "Subscribed" by that user was able to install the Calendar.

So, three questions:

1) in my previous post, why are the publish options grayed out for the selected calendar. Is it because I don't own it (it is a shared calendar in Exchange)?

2) The Outlook "Publish Calendar Settings" has a checkbox: "Update this calendar with the server's recommended frequency". How do I determine the server's recommended frequency?

3) Most importantly, can the subscribed user (recipient of Share message) make changes to the calendar? I haven't been able to.

Can "Calendar Groups" be of any use to me in this endeavor (ok, 4 questions!)
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 40597414
1) in my previous post, why are the publish options grayed out for the selected calendar. Is it because I don't own it (it is a shared calendar in Exchange)?

Correct.  Outlook only supports publishing your calendar.

2) The Outlook "Publish Calendar Settings" has a checkbox: "Update this calendar with the server's recommended frequency". How do I determine the server's recommended frequency?

I've never been able to find a good answer to this.  My understanding is that the update interval is set by the server the calendar is being published to and that it somehow communicates that interval to Outlook.

3) Most importantly, can the subscribed user (recipient of Share message) make changes to the calendar? I haven't been able to.

No, a subscriber can't update the calendar.  Your original post didn't mention a requirement to update, so my assumption was that you only needed the subscribers to view the calendar.  Sorry if I misunderstood.
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by:jmarkfoley
ID: 40597507
OK, thanks. I guess we'll go with the WebDAV approach unless that proves too much of a hassle with its limitations. If so, we'll have to look at 3rd party stuff.

I did publish another question on DAV specific stuff if you want to look there: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Office_Productivity/Groupware/Outlook/Q_28612525.html. I suppose it could have gone in this question, but this one was generically about sharing calendars without Exchange and that one is specific to DAV, so I thought it warranted another question.
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