HOW TO - SYNCHRONIZING YOUR CHURCH CALENDAR WITH A PDA OR POCKET PC

You can synch your church calendars with any device that is compatible with standard iCalendar files.  Any PDA that can synchronize with Microsoft Outlook or other calendar program can be used with this procedure.  Most PDA's are capable of this.

STEP 1 - We need to export the calendar data out of ChurchWatch

a.  Launch the Schedule Manager and then click on the Data Management Tools icon on the toolbar.  Chose "Export an iCalendar File"

b.  In the form that comes up, chose the appropriate options for your export, then click the EXPORT button.

c.  In the file explorer window that is displayed, chose an appropriate location and enter a filename.  In our example below we have chosen c:\test.ics.  Be sure to use the .ics file extension.  Click the SAVE button when ready.

 

STEP 2 - Now we need to imprt the data to Microsoft Outlook (or other calendar program)

a.  In our example, we created an event called "Test Event".  You'll see it appear in Outlook in a moment.

b.  Launch Microsoft Outlook and chose FILE->IMPORT AND EXPORT.  Your version of Outlook may differ and other calendar programs may do this differently.  Refer to the built-in help and search for "iCalendar" or "importing iCalendar" for more instructions.  Here is an example of Microsoft Outlook 2003:

c. When asked, chose iCalendar file format.  Then click NEXT, locate the file you created in step 1 and follow the instructions.

d.  The data will be imported into Outlook.  The import will not affect your existing calendar data in outlook unless the same event is imported more than once.  In this case, the original will be overwritten.  Here is our sample event "Test Event", exported from ChurchWatch, imported into Outlook 2003 and now showing up there.  The "CW" prefix indicates the event originates in ChurchWatch.

 

STEP 3 - Syncing with your PDA

a.  Finally, follow your normal procedures for synching your PDA with your PC's calendar program.  This is almost always done with Microsoft ActiveSync that comes with your Pocket PC.  Other devices, such as BlackBerry (tm) may vary in method.  Note that you may need a newer version of ActiveSync for your particular PDA or phone.  We are using Version 4.5 in this example.  Here is an example screen shot of ActiveSync set for "standard partnership" syncing with an HP iPAQ phone that is running Windows Mobile 2003.

b.  After syncing, the ChurchWatch calendar items should show up in your PDA or phone's calendar.  Here is a photo of our example event after syncing with an HP iPAQ phone.  The entire process takes just seconds.

TIP:  You can create more than one calendar in Outlook.  This would allow you to keep your ChurchWatch calendar data separate from your other calendar data.

 

THE PROBLEM OF DUPLICATE IMPORTED EVENTS

Most calendar programs, including Microsoft Outlook will create duplicate events if the same event is imported more than once.  This creates an awkward situation when trying to keep your PDA in sync with your ChurchWatch calendar.  There are a few suggested solutions to this problem:

1.  Export by date from ChurchWatch.  In the export form (see step 1b above) you can export by date.  Use the "for these dates only" filter to make sure that you never export the same event twice.  Unfortunately this method has a serious drawback.  If you create one or more events in a date range that has already been exported it will not be easy to export these new events using the "for these dates only" filter.

2.  Create a new calendar in Outlook for the purpose of acting as a go-between for ChurchWatch and your PDA.  Always delete all events in this Outlook Calendar before re-importing the entire calendar.  Then always export all events from ChurchWatch to completely refresh your Outlook calendar, and hence your PDA as well.

3.  Simply delete the duplicate calendar items in Outlook.  Here is a Microsoft Knowledgebase article on the method. 

4.  Microsoft indicates that you can select "do not import duplicates" during the Import.  However, we have been unable to find this option in Outlook 2003.  It may be present in Outlook 2007 but we cannot confirm.

Some experimentation may be required and you may find better methods.