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  • Sharing Calendars on your Windows Home Server


    Dave
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    by: TheGuy clip_image001

    The purpose of this article is to provide a way for Windows Home Server users to publish their Outlook calendars (or anything else) using the existing capabilities of the Windows Home Server (WHS).

    Tools and ingredients:

    1.) Windows Home Server (WHS) with SP3

    2.) Activated WHS WebDAV capabilities (built-in)

    3.) The following instructions

    4.) A bit of patience and some trial and error.

    5.) Mix and test to see what works best for you.

    Note: Variation of this recipe is allowed; have fun with it.

    Definition of WebDAV

    In this case we want to publish content to the existing WHS Internet Information Services (IIS) web server. Therefore we have to begin by activating the WebDAV component of WHS as well as those found on your clients PC.

    The special ingredients lies within WebDAV, a protocol used to publish and manage content to the WHS web server IIS or any Windows based server. WebDAV is an extension of the HTTP/1.1 protocol described in RFCs 2518 and 3253. WebDAV provides the following features which makes it ideal for the publication of your Outlook Calendar. It work today, but as of late Microsoft seems to have moved away from this protocol, so who knows if this will work in the next version of WHS.

    1.) WebDAV uses port 80, the same port used by HTTP. So using WebDAV means you don’t have to open any extra ports on your firewall which could cause security concerns...

    2.) WebDAV lets only one user at a time modify the outlook calendar file, while allowing multiple users to read it. This allows the calendar file to be locked while it is being edited, preventing unexpected changes from occurring.

    3.) WebDAV lets you edit files directly on the WHS server.

    Please note the definition of publication. The act of making printed material, especially books, available for sale to the public / the communication of information to the public. In this case to publish via WHS your calendar. Being able to control access, you can determine if this will be public or private publishing.

    In this case we will get your published Outlook calendar updated via the WHS web IIS server. This will allow you to sync your calendar from anywhere you have access to the WEB.

    Step 1

    We must begin by activating the WebDAV service:

    Log-on to your Windows Home Server (WHS) console via remote access either via the remote desktop connection or if you have been smart and already installed the “Advanced Admin Console” add-in you can use the Windows Home Server Console to access the “Control Panel” of your WHS.

    Once you have the Control Panel in sight, the rest is easy as pie.

    Start up a console session

    Then, Go to the Control Panel

    Control Panel

    clip_image003

    Then make your way to the Windows Component Wizard found in WHS

    To get to the Windows Component Wizard, simply select the “Add or Remove Program” option from the “Control Panel” and then on the left side bar select the “Add or Remove Windows Component”

    clip_image005

    From the Windows Components Wizard, get to the “Application Server” option then select by clicking on the details button the “Application and Server” option will open up.

    Then open up (double click) or click on “Details” button so as to open up the “Internet Information Services (IIS)”; then proceed at opening the “World Wide Web Service” and finally click on the WebDAV Publishing option and click “OK”

    This will add and activate the WebDAV service.

    From the Windows Components Wizard

    Application Server

    Internet Information Services (IIS)

    World Wide Web Service

    WebDAV Publishing option and click “OK

    See picture below:

    clip_image007

    Once you have WebDAV enable, you should double check to make sure it is active. To do that, have a look at your “Administrative Tools”. Go back to the Control Panel and then select “Administrative Tools”; then select from the “Administrative Tools” the “Services” option.

    clip_image009

    clip_image011

    Then from the “Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager” select (click on) Web Service Extension on the left side of the screen to view the right side and the “Allowed” WebDAV service.

    clip_image013

    You may wish to right-click and view the properties or change the status from “Prohibit” to “allowed”. Also take note that when you allow the WebDAV extension (httpext.dll) you are also allowing it for all of the WHS websites on your server. WebDAV is an all or nothing kind of feature. You can however control its security, which takes a bit of trial and error.

     

    Create the appropriate website-link and directory (updated)

    You also need to create a website link so that the “Publisher” will have access to the appropriate directory. To do so, you need to create a website or web-directory so as to allow the outside to view the published Calendar location.

    Using the add-in to manage your websites, create a link to your Calendar directory. This link will allow the outside to make use of the WebDAV protocol to access this directory via port 80 as stated previously. The combination of this web directory plus the security of the shared directory will give your all of the security required. You just need to remember that you have two locations that can set securities. You have at the shared folder location and you have at the shared website location.

    In the picture below you will see that I have added a Calendar website with a Calendar directory. Both levels are required for this recipe to work. The website directory as the front door and the Calendar directory for the actual storage of the data files.

    image

    Once you have the above setup, then the folder will be part of the website which will allow the transfer and view of the Calendar files.

    Don’t forget to turn on WebDAV on the Client

    To be able to have greater control over this transfer of information the next step is to enable WebDAV on the user’s machines that will be used to create and manage content for your website. If you only wish to view, then you can skip this step. This is only required is you wish to control the data. Everything client OS since Windows XP has a built-in WebDAV client that doesn’t need to be installed, only enabled. Windows XP, Vista and Windows7 all have this option. To enable WebDAV, open the Services console under Administrative Tools and find the “Web Client” service and double-click on this service to open its properties view:

    clip_image015

    Then Select “Services”

    clip_image017

    Then select “Web Client”

    clip_image019

    Double-click on “Web Client” to view its properties. The “Start-up” option should be set to “Automatic”. Also make sure it’s running, else click on the “Start” option to start this service.

    OK all is ready to get Outlook to Publish

    To be able to publish your calendar, you now must tell Outlook to publish to the selected directory. In this case, we will create a shared folder on your WHS and then publish to that location on the WHS.

    Let’s call the directory Calendar and let’s make it a public. From the Windows Home Server Console go to the Shared Folders tab and click on “+Add”. From here you will be able to set the folders name and permissions using the “Full, Read, None” options for security by user.

    clip_image021

    Once this folder is created and security defined, we are set for the next phase.

    To publish content using WebDAV, you should enable the following web permissions on the directory:

    1.) Read - lets users read what has been published to the server

    2.) Full - lets users upload new content to the server and edit existing content on the server

    3.) None – allows nothing. No access.

    Additional options are available, but then you will need to view them from the IIS application. This is only recommended for advanced users.

    clip_image023

    IMPORTANT: Enabling Write permission on the directory can constitute a security hole on your web server, as the Write web permission allows those with security access to upload content to your server. It’s therefore extremely important that you complete the permissions on your WHS to restrict who has access to the content directory.


    Now for the Final touch, publishing to the directory.

    As you can see from the view below, we have successfully published a couple of file to the Calendar directory.

    “Work_CALENDAR_.ICS” and “Wife_Calendar.ICS” are two calendars that are being published by the Outlook client of my Work PC and my wife PC.

    clip_image025

    How did I do that, it’s easy. From Outlook you simply select the Calendar you wish to publish and voila, all done. Here is a step-by-step using the latest Outlook 2010.

    From the Calendar area of Outlook, you select the “Calendar” and right-click to view the options. You will notice that you have an option to “Publish” the Calendar under the Share option, then “Publish to WebDAV Server”.

    clip_image027

    Then you get an options panel with the following:

    clip_image028

    As you will notice there are a number of options. Select the one best suited for you.

    clip_image030

    Don’t forget to check under the “Advanced” option. Automatic uploads are a great and easy way of getting the Calendar updated automatically.

    clip_image031

    Since my wife likes to know what I am doing, I give her full access…

    clip_image032

    The Location should be your Home Server Calendar location.

    Either the local network address or the WEB access address.

    IMPORTANT

    Use the appropriate web address or local address with the appropriate security levels; else you will not be able to publish.

    Example: HTTPS://yourWHSserver.homeserver.net/Calendar/Work_Calendar.ICS

    Or

    The local network location

    clip_image033

    You’re done, your WHS server is ready to receive the file and Outlook will publish the file using the WebDAV protocol.

    Nice and easy. My calendar and my wife’s calendar.

    clip_image035

    I hope this has provided you with the instructions required to make use of this feature found within WHS. Keep discovering the power of WHS.

    Cheers,

    TheGuy

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    Works well to install the WebFolders4WHS add-in. Among other things, it uses the permissions from WHS to control access to the shares.
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    Can you give me a few more details? I have either missed something or something is missing. The part that confuses me most is you have me create a link to a Calendar directory for the website, but then you have me create a shared folder later. Is this out of order? Am I supposed to have two different folders? When I try to publish, I enter the url for my website and it asks me to log in, I use my standard credentials and it fails. I understand there's some sort of permission issue, but can't seem to figure out where that is. Any pointers would be great. I also notice that you have the website listed as a website and it looks like you are using Whiist, as I am and mine shows up as a folder under Default Web Sites. Not sure that matters, just mentioning it.
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    bandit1170, My apologies for not being clear with my instructions, at the time it seemed clear but in re-reading the instructions I understand your dilemma. Let me try to help. The key to making this work is that you must have a web site set up that point to the Calendar directory as the file location. Without the web site and the directory the WebDAV functionality won’t work. Remember that WebDAV comes in via port 80, the website. And since you are entering the web site, you should make use of HTTPS and not just HTTP. So HTTPS://yourwebsite.homeserver.net/WEBSITE/DIRECT.... When you create your web site, point it to where you will be storing the Calendar files. So yes I used Whiist to create the Calendar site and then created the calendar directory to link to it. So in this test case, I had it set up as ServerlocationCalendar-WebsiteCalendar-Directory from my server side. So to access this location via Outlook publishing you would be required to enter a location of https://yourwebsite.homeserver.net/website/&ldquo... which will then drop the Calendar-file in the website “Calendar-website”. In my test case I named the website Calendar and the web directory Calendar, sorry about the confusion. I also kept the website locked down for security purpose, so by entering the http…stuff in your browser will NOT allow you access to the directory unless you open it up. But using the WebDAV protocol you will be able to get in. How to test the outlook side: To make sure that the file could actually be published and received by Outlook you could enter in your web browser the following address: webcals://YOURWEBSITE.homeserver.com/WEBSITE-NAME/filename.ics or something that looks like webcals://YOURWEBSITE.homeserver.com/Calendar/Windws_Home_Server_Calendar.ics This should open Outlook and bring you through a series of prompts and a process of adding the link into Outlook. This is a test, if it provides you with the opportunity, then your setup is ok and you only need to double check security, if the test does not work then something else is wrong. If you check the article again, you will see that I have a picture of IIS and it shows website Calendar and Calendar directory where the files are located. (clip_image023.jpg) Make sure you allow read/write capabilities. Check you permissions and properties. Please let me know how this works for you,
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    Thank you for responded. I had been working on it for over an hour when I finally sent you that message. I had to leave and tried it one more time and it worked and I have no idea why. I'm not sure it I hadn't restarted the website, which I'm pretty sure I had, but it's working now. Thanks for the response and the Outlook test, that has been helpful. The only "problem" I'm having now is getting the calendars to update. I'm sharing my home calendar and have connected to it at work, but it doesn't seem to update. Is it supposed to update automagically? Thank you.
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    bandit1170 When you set up WebDAV in Outlook you have the option of how frequently the updates occur (well some flexibility). From the option on the Publish Calendar to Custom Server option window you will notice a “Advanced” button which will bring up a sub-window called Published Calendar Settings. This will allow you to select between “Automatic Uploads: Upload updates periodically” [my choice] or “Single Upload: Updates will not be uploaded”; Private items and update frequency options… As stated before, you may have to play with some of these options to get it working your way. I hope this has helped. You should also check out the Forum: http://homeservershow.com/forums/topic/sharing-calendars-and-having-centralized-e-mail
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    Could these instructions be made clearer please? There is information in the comments see bandit1170 that isn't in the "guide"
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    Is there any way to view the calendars in a webpage? I want to share my calendar with certain people to show my availability time, but i dont want to force them to open my .ics calendar in outlook. is there any way to do this?
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    Thanks so much for posting this How-to. With your informative instructions I got WebDav calendars working with Outlook no problem. However, I find whenever Outlook starts it prompts for the user's password for the initial download of the subscribed calendars. It remembers the password during the Outlook session, but ignores the "remember password" setting between sessions. I am wondering: Have I misconfigured a security setting, or is this normal behavior?
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    How do I change the frequency of updating the calendars between Outlook and the server? What is the default time server and where change this setting?
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    does anyone know how to do this in Essentials 2012, i am a bit lost and I really want to share my home calendar (publish) with work.
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