Introducing VueMinder Server
A new product, VueMinder Server, is required before calendars can be shared on your local network. VueMinder Server is free - there's no charge to download and install it. Basically, VueMinder Server wraps the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express R2 installation and also includes a database that is compatible with VueMinder. A step-by-step guide to installing VueMinder Server and configuring calendar sharing is available here. Continue reading to learn what has changed since the previous version.
Calendar Sharing Options - Selecting a Server
Instead of specifying a shared calendar folder as in version 8.1.3 and earlier, version 8.2 changes the Sharing Options window to specify a server name. This can be any computer on your local network, and doesn't need to be a real "server". The server can be used just as you would use any other computer, but it will also run Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express R2 as a background service. Windows XP, Server 2003 or 2008, Vista, and 7 are supported.
After the server is installed and correctly configured, computers on the local network will detect the server and it will be listed in the "Server name" drop-down of the Sharing Options window, accessed via the Options menu in VueMinder.
Calendar Sharing Options - Sync Frequency
After a server is selected, an additional option for controlling the sync frequency will be presented. The default behavior is to sync automatically. VueMinder will monitor the database for changes and sync only the necessary updates. This happens every few seconds. The software is optimized to synchronize as efficiently as possible, so sharing calendars shouldn't cause any noticeable performance issues (on most computers and networks). However, if performance issues are encountered, a different sync frequency can be selected to resolve the problem. You can also disable automatic syncing and manually command syncing as needed, via the F5 key. These options were not available in previous versions of VueMinder.
Calendar Properties - Synchronize Shared Calendars With Google, Outlook, and ICS
Previously, calendars that were shared over a local network could not also be synced with Google Calendar, Outlook, or published to ICS files. In version 8.2, that limitation has been removed. If you really wanted to, you could share a calendar over your local network, sync that calendar with your calendar in Outlook, sync both Outlook and your locally shared calendar with Google Calendar, AND publish any changes made to the calendar (from either VueMinder, Google Calendar, or Outlook) to an ICS file on your local network or website. That's the most extreme example, but demonstrates the flexibility of the improved calendar sharing feature.
Basically, VueMinder Server becomes your local cloud. Instead of all your data being online, the data is securely stored on your local network. You can control which computer, if any, should synchronize the calendar data with external sources, such as Google Calendar. If you prefer to keep all the data local, that will still be the default behavior. You'll need to specifically enable syncing with other data sources, if desired. This can be accomplished via the tabs in the Calendar Properties window, on one of your computers.
The following diagram shows the directions data can sync. For example, you could define an event on one computer that only syncs with the shared database. Another computer keeps the database and Google Calendar in sync, and your smartphone could be synced with Google Calendar. In this example, a new event defined in VueMinder, regardless of which computer is used, will automatically appear on your phone. Likewise, you could define an event on your phone, and then event will automatically appear in VueMinder on all your computers.
We believe the calendar sharing feature in 8.2 is a significant improvement. Not only will it be more reliable than the previous implementation, but the added flexibility of syncing shared calendars with other data sources is a huge step forward and adds even more value to VueMinder. There's a sense of geeky joy when adding an event on one computer that has no web connection (just a local network connection), and then seeing that event automatically appear in Google Calendar - like magic!