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How to Create Your Own Cloud - Secure Calendar Sharing on a Local Network

May 22, 2011
Dan Chartrand of VueSoft


Editor's Note: These instructions apply to version 11.0.5 and earlier. Calendar sharing in version 11.1.0 has been improved and no longer requires VueMinder Server. Click here for instructions on sharing calendars in the latest version of VueMinder.

Overview

This article provides detailed instructions for configuring VueMinder  to share data over your local network, starting with the installation of VueMinder Server and continuing through each of the steps required to successfully enable calendar sharing. Note, this information is applicable to VueMinder Pro and Ultimate. The Lite version doesn't include the capability to share calendars.

Advanced troubleshooting tips can be found at the bottom of this article.


Installing VueMinder Server

VueMinder Server wraps the installation of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express, simplifying the setup process and making it more accessible. VueMinder Server also includes a database that VueMinder Pro and Ultimate can use for syncing calendars over your local network. With the correct firewall and router settings, it's also possible to sync with VueMinder Server from outside your local network.

You don't need a dedicated computer to act as the server, and you don't need to have a degree in Database Administration. VueMinder Server is very light on system resources and will simply run in the background as a service, even if you're not logged into the computer. You can also run VueMinder on the same computer that is hosting the server, and use that computer as you normally would.

You don't need to know how database servers work or all the nuances involved with database administration. The complexity is handled for you, behind the scenes. Some of the steps below may seem daunting, but we'll try to walk you through it with clearly written instructions and screenshots. If you get stuck or have any questions, use the contact form at the bottom of the page to let us know, and then we'll provide additional assistance.

1. To install VueMinder Server, first download the setup program. Make sure to select the correct version, depending on whether your CPU is 32 or 64-bit:


2. After downloading, save the file to your local hard drive and then run it. The following window will appear:


3. Click the Next button. Your computer will be searched for any existing installation of Microsoft SQL Server 2008. This usually takes around 5 seconds.


4. If an existing installation of SQL Server is not detected, the installation option will be "Install SQL Server 2008 R2 Express on this computer". Otherwise, it will be "Install VueMinder database on <computer name>". In that case, click Next and then skip to step 10.


5. Click the Next button. A license agreement screen will appear. Check the "I accept the license terms" box and then click Next. 


6. After accepting the license, the SQL Server installation package will be extracted to a temporary folder. This can take several minutes. When finished, a message will appear.

7. Click the OK button. The SQL Server installation will continue in a separate window. The installation is automated, so you won't need to enter any additional settings. Go grab a cup of coffee and come back in about 10 minutes. If you like watching paint dry, you'll see a screen similar to below. This means it is working. If you don't see this screen, something's wrong. In that case, skip to the troubleshooting tips below.


8. When SQL Server installation finishes, the VueMinder Server Setup window will briefly update to indicate the installation is being validated. This will appear for about 10 seconds.

9. If the SQL Server installation was successful, the window will update as shown below. If you don't see this, skip down to the troubleshooting section.

10. After SQL Server is installed, the next step is to install the VueMinder database. This database is required by VueMinder. It's basically your local cloud, safe and secure from the prying eyes of everyone's favorite "don't be evil" search engine. After clicking Next, the VueMinder database and required tables will be installed to the server. The window should refresh as shown below. Make a note of your server name, because you'll need this later:

11. Click the Close button. You're done!


Configuring VueMinder

Now that VueMinder Server has been installed, the next task is to configure VueMinder on each of your computers to communicate with the server. The following steps explain how to do this.

1. In the VueMinder window, go to the Options menu and click "Sharing". Click the drop-down arrow in the Server name field to select a server. There will be a short delay while VueMinder searches your network for visible servers. If the window says no servers could be found (as shown below), type in the name of the computer where VueMinder Server was installed and then skip to step 3.


2. Hopefully, the computer name you installed VueMinder Server on will be listed in the dropdown menu. If so, select it from the list and then click the OK button. If you see multiple computers listed, make sure your computers are using the correct server name. Otherwise, some calendars won't be visible to some computers.

If no computer names appear in the list, simply type the computer name where VueMinder Server was installed. Make sure to type it correctly, since VueMinder won't be able to connect if the server name is incorrect. You could also type the server's IP address.


3. After selecting the server, click the OK button. There might be a slight pause why VueMinder connects. If the status bar says "Server offline" in the bottom-right corner, see the toubleshooting information below. Otherwise, you are now ready to start sharing calendars.


How to Share Your Calendar to the Network

To share an existing calendar in VueMinder Pro or Ultimate, right-click the calendar name and select the "Share Calendar -> Share to Local Network" menu command.


The "Sharing" tab of the "Calendar Properties" window will appear. By default, all users on your local network will have "Reader" permission to your calendar. 

This is the default permission level, but it can be modified, or overridden for individual users. Here's a definition of the 3 permission levels provided by VueMinder:

  • Contributor - The user can add, remove, or modify events belonging to the calendar. Event colors and reminders can be changed and shared with other users. The user can also change the calendar's defaults for new events.
  • Reader - The user can view events and add personal reminders, but those reminders are not shared with other users. The user can also change event colors, but changes are only on the local computer. Any other changes, such as modifying or deleting an event, will not be allowed.
  • No Access - The user will not have any access to the calendar. If this is set as the default permission level, nobody else will be able to access the calendar unless overrides are added. If you login to multiple computers, you'll be able to access the shared calendar, but other users will not see it.

To change the default permission level, click the Permission Level value for the "(Everyone)" row, and select the desired value. To override the default permission level for an individual user, enter the user's Windows login name for the User ID, and click the Add button. The user ID will be added to the database, and the permission level can be adjusted as needed. There's no limit to the number of overrides that can be added. Also, if user ID names on your network aren't easily remembered based on the person's real name, you can enter a more descriptive name in the Name column. This name will be shown on other computers, or when assigning permissions for other shared calendars.

In the example below, the default permission level for all users is Reader. Users Michelle, Travis, and Scott have customized permissions that override the default.


When you're done assigning permissions, click the OK button to close the Calendar Properties window. Your calendar will sync to the server within a few seconds.


How to Add a Shared Calendar From the Network

Calendars that have been commanded to be shared, as described in the steps above, will be available for viewing and/or editing on other computers. To add a shared calendar to the local computer, click the "Add Shared Calendar From Local Network" command on the File menu. You can also press the F9 key.

After clicking the menu command, a list of calendars will be displayed. The list will consist of only calendars the currently logged in user can read or modify, and that haven't already been added to the calendar list. The calendar owner and current user's permission level will be shown. In the example below, Michelle has shared 2 calendars. Dan has reader access to one calendar and contributor access to the other calendar.
A list of available shared calendars will be shown. Use the checkboxes to select the calendars you'd like to add to your calendar list.

To add one or more shared calendars to the local calendar list, use the checkmarks. Calendars that are checked will be added after clicking the OK button.


Toubleshooting

VueMinder Server Setup - Prerequisites are Missing

The VueMinder Server installation has 3 pre-requisites. Most of these should already be installing on Windows Vista and 7 computers. However, these might be missing from older versions of Windows - especially Windows XP. If you see a message about needing one of these installed, click the link to go to the download page, and follow Microsoft's instructions for installation.

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1
Microsoft Windows Installer 4.5
Microsoft PowerShell 2.0


VueMinder Server Setup - SQL Server Installation Windows Don't Appear

This is usually caused by a configuration problem on your computer that is preventing SQL Server 2008 Express R2 from installing. If this happens, the easiest way to see what is preventing installing is to download and install SQL Server directly. It can be downloaded here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=23650

When installing, enter the instance name VUESOFT. Also be sure to set the SQL Browser service startup type to Automatic. It defaults to being disabled. Those are the only things you’ll need to enter that are different than the defaults. After installing SQL Server, run VueMinder Server Setup again. As long as you named the instance VUESOFT during the SQL Server installation, VueMinder Server should detect a compatible server and install the VueMinder database.


VueMinder Server Setup - Doesn't Work After a Manual Install of SQL Server

If you manually installed SQL Server and can't get VueMinder Server Setup to detect the SQL Server installation or install the VueMinder database, try uninstalling SQL Server (this will involve uninstalling a number of items in the Control Panel). After doing this, reinstall SQL Server. As noted above, make sure to specify an instance name of VUESOFT. Do not use the default instance name of SQLEXPRESS. This is very important. If you fail to name the instance VUESOFT, it won't work!


VueMinder Server Setup - SQL Server Validation Fails
VueMinder Sharing Options - Server Isn't Found

VueMinder Server Setup will attempt to connect to SQL Server after installation of SQL Server is completed. VueMinder's Sharing Options window will also scan for servers on your local network. If this fails, it's usually due to a communication problem, which may be related to the firewall software on your server. If you're using Windows Firewall, VueMinder Server Setup will try to automatically configure it with the necessary settings for connecting within your local network. However, if you want to connect from external networks, of if you're not using Windows Firewall, then you may need to manually configure the firewall settings.

The following exceptions are needed, for both inbound and outbound connections:

  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Shared\sqlbrowser.exe
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10_50.VUESOFT\MSSQL\Binn\sqlservr.exe
  • TCP ports 1434 and 1451


The instructions below are for Windows Firewall. The steps may vary depending on your firewall software.

1. In the Control Panel, go to “System and Security” -> “Windows Firewall”. Click “Allow a program or feature through Windows Firewall”.
Image

2. Click the “Allow another program” button. Click the “Browse” button and select C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Shared\sqlbrowser.exe.

3. Repeat, but this time select C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10_50.VUESOFT\MSSQL\Binn\sqlservr.exe. You settings should look as shown below. Note, you can also connect from outside your local network by checking the "Public" boxes. 
Image

4. Click OK, and then check if the other computers can access your server. If they still can’t, then you’ll need to add exceptions to the firewall for TCP traffic on ports 1451 and 1434. This can be done by clicking the “Advanced settings” link on the left side of the Windows Firewall window. Go to the Inbound rules and click “New Rule”. Select “Port” as the rule type, applicable to TCP, with port numbers 1434, 1451.
Image

After adding these exceptions, restart VueMinder Server Setup.


VueMinder Server Setup - SQL Server Validation Fails Regardless of Firewall
VueMinder Sharing Options - Server Isn't Found Regardless of Firewall

Ensure the Installation Folder is Not Compressed

If your hard drive is configured to automatically compress files and folders to save space, you may encounter a problem with the SQL Server installation. In Windows Explorer, right-click the folder where SQL Server was installed. This is usually under "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server". From the popup menu, select "Properties". Click the "Advanced" button in the Properties window. If the box labeled "Compress contents to save disk space" is checked, remove the checkmark and click OK. After doing this, run the VueMinder Server setup again.

Confirm Services Are Running

If you've correctly configured the firewall settings, or totally disabled to firewall to see if would make any difference, but the server is still not detected, use the "SQL Server Configuration Manager" command on the Start menu.


Make sure both "SQL Server Browser" and "SQL Server (VUESOFT)" are running and configured to start automatically. If necessary, right-click these processes and select the "Properties" command to adjust their settings. If either of these services are configured to start automatically, but they fail to start, try changing the start mode to "Automatic (Delayed Start)".


Ensure TCP/IP is Enabled

It's also possible  the SQL Server installation didn’t enable TCP/IP. This can happen if SQL Server was manually installed. Here’s how to fix it.:

  1. From the Start menu, go to “Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2”. Inside its folder will be a subfolder named “Configuration Tools”. Inside that folder will be “SQL Server Configuration Manager”. Click that command to launch the Configuration Manager tool.
  2. Inside the SQL Server Configuration Manager, expand the tree on the left to go to “SQL Server Configuration Manager (Local) -> SQL Server Network Configuration -> Protocols for VUESOFT”. Click on that entry to view its settings on the right.
  3. If you see that TCP/IP is “Disabled”, that would explain the problem. Double-click TCP/IP to open its properties window, and then enable TCP/IP by selecting “Yes” from the drop-down.
  4. Next, click the “IP Addresses” tab. For each IP address (IP1, IP2, IP3, etc), blank out the “TCP Dynamic Ports” value and enter a value of 1451 for the “TCP Port” value. It should look like this when done:
  5. Click OK. A message will appear saying the service needs to be restarted. Click OK again.
  6. Next, click the “SQL Server Services” in the tree on the left. Right-click “SQL Server (VUESOFT) on the right side, and select “Restart” from the popup menu.


Allow Remote Connections and SQL Server Authentication

If that doesn't fix it either, then SQL Server might be configured to not allow remote connections or SQL Server authentication mode. To fix this, you'll need to download and install SQL Server Management Studio. After installing Management Studio, launch it from the Start menu and connect to the "xxxx\VUESOFT" server, using Windows Authentication.



After connecting to the database from SQL Server Management Studio, right-click the server name in the Object Explorer area of the window. Next, click the "Properties" command on the popup menu.



In the Properties window, click the Security page and ensure the server authentication is set to "SQL Server and Windows Authentication Mode".



Next, click the "Connections" page and ensure the "Allow remote connections to this server" box is checked.

 

Other Problems

If you encounter other problems, or if none of the troubleshooting tips above fix the problems you're seeing, please contact us. You can also receive support directly from Microsoft by clicking here.





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