Welcome to 2003! Do you know what you'll be doing months from now? If so, you might be interested in a tool that turns Outlook into a year planner, letting you block out days at a time for vacations, conferences, and other daylong and weeklong events.
The tool is called Outlook 2000+ Year View, from Planet Software Australia. The heart of the tool is an ActiveX control that displays an entire year's calendar. You don't need to be a developer to use this custom control, though, because the download includes an installer that sets up an Outlook folder home page that shows the year planner for any calendar folder you select.
When you run the calinstall.exe program, it asks you to enter an installation folder in which to store the control files, the Outlook calendar folder you want the control to display, a license key, and a URL (beginning with either file:// or http://) that points to the system folder in which you want the installer to place the Year View subfolder. The installer places the outlookyearview.cab file containing the control's setup files in the installation folder. It also creates a file named Year View.htm that uses the control to display the calendar folder that you specified. On the Outlook side, the installer creates a Year View subfolder under the chosen calendar folder, sets the folder home page for the subfolder to the Year View.htm file, and turns on the folder home page.
When you first access the Year View subfolder, you experience a slight delay as the control is installed; then the folder home page displays the full calendar for the current year. It shows only daylong and weeklong events to give you a "big picture" view of your calendar.
Along the right side of the control, you see a list of colors starting with Unused 1 and ending with Other. You can link each color to an Outlook category. For example, right-click Unused 1, then choose Rename. If you change the name to Holiday, the control displays all events marked with the Holiday category in brown. You can change the color by right-clicking the color in the list and choosing Colour.
You aren't limited to the 14 categories that the control initially shows. Add more by right-clicking any color, then choosing New Category. Any event not marked with a category has the color set for Other.
Arrow keys at the upper right of the screen let you switch from one year to another. Point the mouse at any entry on the calendar to see the dates and subject for that event in a box at the top of the page. Click any event to edit it. To delete an event, right-click it and choose Delete. Print the page to get a color-coded view of the times you've blocked out for the year. You don't, however, see individual event titles in the printout.
The Year View control isn't just for viewing events—you can also create new events. Right-click anywhere in the calendar, then choose New Appointment and pick a color category. The cursor turns into a pencil. Drag it across the days for which you want to create the event. A new Outlook appointment will appear with the category and start and end dates already filled in. All you need to add are the subject and any other details.
You can create as many copies of the Year View.htm file as you need to create folder home pages for different calendar folders. Just edit the copy to change the Folder parameter that determines which Outlook folder the control displays. For public folders, you'll probably want to put the .htm files in a folder on your intranet Web server. You could also place the outlookyearview.cab file in a network location and edit the Year View.htm file to point to that file instead of the local drive.