Office 365 (BusyCal 2.5.4 versus Apple Calendar 10.9) - Exchange Functionality and Other Considerations

Best Effort Support Only

This document contains instructions on using a non-Microsoft email client, such as Apple Mail or Thunderbird. Microsoft does not recommend these clients for use with Office 365, and there are often significant limitations in client functionality as a result.

Because of this, the DoIT Help Desk is only able to offer best effort support for these clients, and certain issues may require the use of a Microsoft client in order to be resolved. For more information on Office 365 client support, please see: Office 365 - Which clients/protocols will be supported?.

This document explains some of the critical differences between BusyCal 2.5.4 and Apple Calendar 10.9 when interacting through Exchange with Outlook Web App.

  1. Major Advantages

  • BusyCal 2.5.4

    • Vendor Access: Because of our close contact with BusyCal's vendor, support and functionality concerns/requests can presumably be addressed quickly and with familiarity.

    • Automatic Backup: BusyCal's automatic backup feature is very straightforward and simple to set up and use. The customization features (frequency of backups, # of backups to keep) make it that much better.

    • Categories: The fact that new categories created in OWA can be taught to BusyCal and mapped to its Tags is a nice function (one that is missing from Apple Calendar).

    • Filters/Printing: BusyCal's smart filters allow a lot of calendar data viewing customization that can then be printed. The option to create sub-filters makes choosing what info you want to print pretty easy.

    • Task Integration: BusyCal's To Dos sync with OWA and are managed within BusyCal itself. No need for another Tasks/To Dos/Reminders app. They are easily printable and can be included in smart filters for viewing/printing.

  • Apple Calendar 10.9

    • Simple User Interface: While Apple Calendar and BusyCal look pretty similar at first glance, Apple Calendar has the upper hand in terms of user interface simplicity. BusyCal's abundance of options and customization may be overwhelming for some, and Apple Calendar provides an intuitive experience if your calendaring needs are basic.

    • Look & Feel: I'm reaching here, but Apple Calendar does look a bit smoother and better designed.

  • Specific BusyCal Issues

    • When "Delegate" sharing permissions are set in BusyCal or OWA, BusyCal will reset the view of the permissions as "Read & Write" even though functionally the permissions grant Delegate access and private event viewing rights. Vendor is aware of this issue and plans to fix it in a future release.

    • By default, all user calendars within the UW-Madison/Office 365 system should display "Free/Busy Info" or "Availability". No success adding other users calendars to view their availability unless those calendars were already shared with you with at least Read sharing permissions. Vendor is aware of this issue and plans to fix it in a future release.

  • Backup Support

    • BusyCal 2.5.4 offers an automatic backup service built into the application. It allows users to choose the number of backup instances they'd like to be maintained and the frequency with which BusyCal backs up their calendar data. By default, the backups are saved locally in a BusyCal Backups folder in the .bcbu file format. If a user chooses to restore their calendar data from a backup, all current calendar data will be overwritten by the backed up data.

    • Apple Calendar 10.9 supports a manual backup process in which users may either export a backup of their calendar data (.icbu file format) or export an .ics file of their calendar(s). The default export destination is the Documents folder. Users may also use Time Machine to back up and retrieve their data.

  • Exchange Support

    • BusyCal 2.5.4

      • Scheduling Availability: Meeting organizers can view attendee availability when scheduling meetings in the Availability Panel if the attendees have shared their calendars with at least Read level permissions.

      • Syncing: Changes are synced immediately between Exchange and BusyCal via Push.

      • Event URLs: Users have the option to add a URL to an event created in BusyCal, but the URL is not visible in Outlook Web App.

      • Event Attachments: Attachments to events created in BusyCal appear accurately as attachments to events in OWA.

      • Tasks: Tasks can be synced through Exchange and shared with other BusyCal users. Repeating Tasks are supported, either on a fixed interval (e.g. every week on Monday), or dynamically regenerated based on the completion date of the previous Task (e.g. one week after completion). Undated To Dos created in BusyCal will show up in Tasks in OWA in the same way that Dated To Dos will. However, Dated To Dos will also show up on the calendar in BusyCal, similar to an event. Undated To Dos in BusyCal simply show up in the To Dos list, not on the calendar. Neither Dated nor Undated To Dos show up on the calendar in OWA--they just appear in Tasks. Marking To Dos as Private in BusyCal does not trigger the same Private marking in OWA. Users will need to check the "Mark as Private" box in OWA. Oddly enough, marking a To Do as Private in OWA will check the Private box in BusyCal and un-checking it in OWA will un-check it. Vendor is aware of this and plans to fix it in a future release.

      • Categories: Categories in Outlook are mapped to Tags in BusyCal. However, because BusyCal only uses single word Tags, OWA's "Blue category" will not work unless typed in as "Blue_category" staying true to upper/lower. The same is true for new categories users might create. If users create a category in OWA named "My NeW cAtEgOrY" they must type it into the Tags field in BusyCal exactly as it appears and with any spaces between words replaced with an underscore. Once BusyCal syncs a Tag/Category once, it will be stored and available for autocomplete. Improvements in Tag/Category functionality are planned for future releases of BusyCal.

      • Notifications: Notifications can be displayed when changes are made on shared calendars.

      • Private Events: An event created in BusyCal and marked as Private appears as a "Private Appointment" in Outlook Web App. Availability (Busy, Free, etc...) and the date and time of the appointment are also shown. No other details are visible unless you give another user Delegate permissions. This can be done in a client other than BusyCal that allows you to enable to viewing of private events (such as Outlook Web App).

      • Other Event Types: Banners, Journals, Graphics, and Sticky events are special BusyCal events with different default functions. Not surprisingly, they change a bit on the way to OWA. Creating a new Banner in BusyCal is simply a shortcut for creating an all day event, but one that can also span multiple days. Non-Banner multi-day events can be created in BusyCal by simply creating a regular event that spans multiple days. The graphical representation just looks like a couple of single-day events strung together with ellipses. Banners may be turned into regular events by simply un-checking the "all day" box and selecting the date/time you desire. A Banner in BusyCal will show up as an all day event in OWA, and a multi-day event made from a regular new Event is represented by a similar graphic across a number of days. Creating a new Journal in BusyCal will create an all day event in both BusyCal and OWA. Creating a new Sticky in BusyCal creates a yellow post-it note attached to a chosen date. Stickies and Graphics appear as all day events in OWA--their titles and notes do transfer over.

      • Responding to Event Requests: A note on responding to recurring event series through BusyCal--responding to a recurring event series via the general notification tab at the top of the calendar list will send a response for every instance of that meeting. If users decline a recurring event request in this way, the event will disappear from their calendar completely. This is true even if "Show declined events" is checked in the View menu. Once an event request has been sent and is received by BusyCal, events not yet responded to will appear on the invitee's calendar as grayed out events. If a user wishes, they may respond differently to instances of a series by selecting their desired dates and responding. Doing this, a dialogue box will appear (every time for every instance responded to) asking if this response should apply to just one or all of the instances in the series. Side note: It would have been nice if users could decline the whole series, have it still appear on their calendar, and then simply select the days on which they will attend. The alternative, to accept all instances and comb through declining them one-by-one is a bit tedious if you plan on only attending a few instances.

    • Apple Calendar 10.9

      • Calendar Sharing: Sharing user calendars with other O365 user accounts did not work. I referenced KB doc #36260 for this and no luck. There is a Delegation tab within the Calendar Accounts, but attempting to add an O365 user calendar, no matter the permissions, froze ALL Delegation lists the first time I tried. The second attempt (after quitting Calendar and rebooting OSX) didn't freeze the Delegation lists, but I was not able to make lasting changes to a calendar's delegation list. Attempting to edit the list, I was able to add new accounts and to seemingly change their access privileges, but when leaving the editing page and returning to the Delegation list, any changes I had attempted to make were not reflected. If a users wants to use Apple Calendar, it looks like they will have to add and manage their calendars in OWA.

      • Scheduling Availability: Meeting organizers can view attendee availability when scheduling meetings.

      • Syncing: Apple Calendar 10.9 does not allow syncing via Push. Alternatives are to set calendars to refresh every minute or manually refresh them.

      • Tasks: Tasks are handled through the Apple Reminders application. Accounts are added/managed through the Internet Accounts settings in System Preferences. New Tasks created in Reminders are usually immediately synced with OWA Tasks. However, tasks created in OWA often take a couple of minutes to appear in Reminders. There appears to be no option to sync more frequently than once every minute.

      • Categories: Categories added to events in Outlook Web App do not display in Apple Calendar 10.9.

      • Notifications: Notifications can be displayed when changes are made on shared calendars.

      • Responding to Event Requests: A note on responding to recurring event series through Apple Calendar--responding to a recurring event series via the general notification tab at the top of the Calendar app window will send a response for every instance of that meeting. If users decline a recurring event request in this way, the event will disappear from their calendar completely. This is true even if "Show declined events" is checked in the View menu. Once an event request has been sent and received by Apple Calendar, events not yet responded to will appear on the invitee's calendar as grayed out events. If a user wishes, they may respond differently to instances of a series by selecting their desired dates and responding. Doing this, a dialogue box will appear (every time for every instance responded to) asking if this response should apply to just one or all of the instances in the series. Side note: It would have been nice if users could decline the whole series, have it still appear on their calendar, and then simply select the days on which they will attend. The alternative, to accept all instances and comb through, declining one-by-one, is a bit tedious if you plan on only attending a few instances.

  • Additional Functionality Considerations

    • BusyCal 2.5.4

      • Filters: In the BusyCal client, users may create Filters for viewing calendars and To Dos. These Filters are primarily useful for creating "calendar sets" so a user may see events from a selected set of calendars with one click rather than go down a list and uncheck every irrelevant calendar. I will not go into the functionality much, as there are a lot of different types of filters possible, including nested sub-filters. The main takeaway for me was that users in our system do/will have access to many calendars and this feature makes it easier to manage multiple calendars/views and to quickly get at the event info a user desires.

      • Printing: BusyCal offers some good printing options. By default, clicking Print in BusyCal will bring up the print settings for whatever the current calendar view is. Users may then select the text size and number of months they would like to print. By default, To Dos do not print in any view except the Day view. An alternative to this would be to select the calendar List view and to set up a smart filter for whatever To Dos you'd like to print. Printing single Events is not supported, but users may copy one or more events with all details to a text file and print that.

    • Apple Calendar 10.9

      • Filters: Outside of selecting views right before printing, Apple Calendar does not have a similar feature to BusyCal's view filters.

      • Printing: Apple Calendar has similar printing options to BusyCal. However, where BusyCal users must select the calendar view or create a view filter before trying to print, Apple Calendar users may select/change the view to print from the print settings menu. There is also an option (lacking in BusyCal) to print selected events. There are also a few nice options to filter the events and calendar features that are printed. For example, users can select what to print based on Timed Events, All-Day Events, if they want the calendar color key printed, or if they want a mini-calendar printed at the top of the page. Text size, black & white printing, and number of months to print are also options.

  • Conclusions

    While BusyCal 2.5.4 and Apple Calendar 10.9 are similar in many ways, I think BusyCal takes the cake in terms of Exchange functionality, printing/viewing capabilities, and data backup. BusyCal's use of OWA Categories/Tags would definitely be helpful for someone with a lot of events or calendars to manage (like many on campus). Printing calendars and events is also an important feature for many on campus, and BusyCal's printing/viewing features edge out Apple Calendar's limited options. Lastly, having automatic backups of calendar data is an awesome feature not available in Apple Calendar. People often forget to do administrative tasks like backing up their data, so having it done automatically (frequently, and many times over) is an excellent feature. BusyCal FTW.




  • Keywords:microsoft office365 office o365 busycal functionality exchange advantages apple calendar 10.9 o365   Doc ID:38666
    Owner:Leah S.Group:DoIT Help Desk
    Created:2014-03-19 12:17 CDTUpdated:2015-09-11 12:40 CDT
    Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Office 365
    Feedback:  2   0