Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Public Folder Calendar issues in Exchange 2003: a permanent solution.

As of Microsoft Exchange Service Pack 2 and/or Outlook 2003 Service Pack 2 *updating* appointments on a Public Folder Calendar has not been possible.  When a user attempts an update from their Personal Calendar or from TrialWorks Docket Tab a new appointment is created on the Public Folder Calendar, but the existing (changed) appointment remains.  The original appointment cannot be changed, only deleted (assuming Default=Owner rights).  This is because Microsoft modified calendar processing in those service packs.  Public Folders never processed Free/Busy Information, but now we see its effects.  This article presents an alternative as well as Materials & Methods for converting existing customers to the updated system.

Users that are not running these service packs will eventually be affected by the conversion as upgrades are unavoidable.  It is recommended that all users follow this guide to convert their calendars to the alternative method.


Creating a New Master Calendar

Note: If you plan on converting and existing Public Folder Calendar to the alternative setup, please go to the next section

The following series of steps describes how to create a Master Calendar user mailbox and an account used by a 3rd party application for managing mailboxes as resources.  In our case we use Simpler-Webb Exchange Resource Manager to manage the Master Calendar.  Without a resource manager the mailbox would need to have an instance of Outlook open at all times to automatically process appointments;  in some cases manual “acceptance” of appointments would be required.  The ERM automates that process by treating the Mailbox as a Resource.  Please visit their website for licensing, technical information, and updates.
Materials and Methods.

  • Download Exchange Resource Manager from Simpler-Webb.

  • In Active Directory create two accounts:

  • “Master Calendar”.  This account will be your calendar.  

  • “ERM Account”. This account needs to be assigned “BUILTIN\Administrators” group and will manage Mailboxes as Resources.  This step is part of the installation procedure for Simpler-Webb ERM.  

  • Install ERM according to their protocol.  Specify the admin account you created.

  • Update Exchange Recipient Update Services and Offline Address Lists to ensure mailbox information propagation.

  • In Active Directory > Master Calendar User Properties > Exchange Advanced tab grant Domain Users full mailbox permissions (or whatever you feel is appropriate for your organization).

  • Open the ERM Console and enable ERM Management on the Master Calendar Account (refer to ERM documentation for more info).  

  • Test the configuration by:

  • Closing your Outlook.

  • Adding Master Calendar to your Exchange Mailbox “Open additional mailboxes” options.

  • Launching Outlook.

  • Downloading the latest Offline Address Book.

  • Placing an appointment on your personal calendar and inviting Master Calendar.  Once you hit send verify the appointment arrives on the Master Calendar mailbox.  

  • Updating the appointment to a different time – verifying once again the appointment was properly updated.  Note: this is where Public Folders would make a new entry but leave the old entry on the calendar post SP2.

  • At this point you may configure TrialWorks to always invite this calendar and train users on how to use this function properly.
Converting a Public Folder to User Mailbox Calendar


This set of steps is designed to provide a low-impact conversion to the new system.  You will first adjust Active Directory addressing to allow for the insertion of a Master Calendar. Then proceed with ERM setup. Finally you will complete the conversion and import calendar data.

Please be aware that in regards to TrialWorks – ALL DOCKET-CALENDAR links will be invalidated. Consequently you will not be able to update from the Docket previously placed appointments.

Materials and Methods

  • In Exchange System Manager hide the designated Public Folder from address lists (Exchange Advanced screen).

  • Assign a new SMTP address that you will recognize but will not be accidentally used, for example MCPF@domain.local.

  • Set the new e-mail address as primary. Uncheck the box that automatically updates the recipient based on policy.

  • Make a note of Remove existing e-mail addresses. You will use them in the creation of the new account.

  • Update Recipient Update Services and Offline Address Lists.

  • Proceed to CREATING A NEW MASTER CALENDAR section of this article (listed above), but be sure to name your new calendar the same way as your old one to limit confusion. -------

  • Change security on the old public folder giving Administrator “Owner” rights and denying default.  This will prevent accidental updates.  

  • Now you have to copy all items to the new calendar.  You may do so in two ways

  • Export/Import using PST.  Although effective, this method may miss appointments due to corruption or other factors.

  • Copy and Paste. Although very effective you must sort all Public Folder Calendar Items by Category, and then by Item Type.  Copy only one item type at a time and delete any “junk” items (sometimes public folder calendars accumulate “MAIL” items which do not process correctly). Finally, copy only one item type (you can tell by the icon) at a time because some item types do not copy correctly – one bad item will prevent an entire copy/paste routine.

  • Update network / application settings and train users.