Meeting Schedule Assistant

Regular Report

Date Reminder Select Brother Assignments Grid Report Editor

The Report Editor is displayed when you select the Create Report or Open Report on the main application File menu. If you open a saved report, then the grid will automatically display all the assignments you previously made, and the filename will get displayed in the top left-hand corner of the dialogue. You can maximise the dialogue if you prefer to have a larger viewing area. This setting gets saved.

As you select or click a row in the schedule, the Not Available list will update to remind you which brothers can't be assigned.

There are several ways that you can populate the schedule. You are encouraged to read this whole topic to clearly understand what features you have available to you. You can directly jump down to any part of the help topic by clicking on the control that interests you on the screenshot above.

Date Date
Firstly, you will see a pre-filled in set of dates for your chosen date range. These dates are determined from the program options. So under normal circumstances you won't need to alter these dates. However there are some valid occasions when you might want to change a date (maybe you have the circuit overseer and thus the meeting has swapped to another day). So if you need to alter a date, just double click it.

When you double click the date, it looks like the snapshot shown here. You can then click on each part of the date and use the small up/down arrows to alter the value (or you can manually type the new value). The date is displayed using your PC regional settings or can be customized.

Next, you will notice that as you click on each row, you will see a reminder telling you which meeting this date is for. Eg:
Drop list of names

Edit Name

Fill Manually
To fill in an assignment manually, click the small dropdown allow to display a list of names and simply select one. Likewise you can change a name by doing the same thing. The names that are listed depend on three factors. Firstly, they are based on the names you added using the Publishers Database. Secondly, it depends what meeting day it is, as only those available for the chosen meeting will be displayed. Lastly, a brother might have been specifically excluded from the meeting.

You can also double-click the cell to go into edit mode and you can type in whatever text you like. This might be useful if you want to add a random brothers name (not on the dropdown list) or if you want to clear the cell contents. Click another cell, or press the Enter key to leave the edit mode. Press the Escape key to abort any changes made to the cell.
Auto Assign menu Auto Assign
If you wish the Meeting Schedule Assistant program to select names for the various assignments, use the Auto Assign feature.

Select this menu item to perform the automatic assignment operation. The program will populate the cells using a process with these rules:

  • Avoid assigning a brother two weeks in a row.
  • Avoid assigning a brother for two duties at the same meeting occasion.
  • Avoid assigning an excluded name or entire column (if set)

Due to the complexity of this process however, there may occasionally result a Conflict of Assignment. When this option is set (see help notes below) the program will inform you when this has occurred and will show you on the schedule by highlighting the specific areas. A Conflict of Assignment means that the program has been unable to apply the above listed rules satisfactorily for every assignment. This then requires the user to manually adjust the content of the cells. You might wish to use the swap feature to make the needed corrections. After each correction, the program will continue to check for assignment conflicts.

Note: Auto Assign uses strict processing protocol when engaged, however it is vital that each allocated assignment is checked by the user.

Single Column
Use this feature to populate your schedule on a column by column basis. It is worthy of your investigation and you might find that it yields a better allocation of personnel if used correctly. Click here for more details.

Select this menu item to display the Auto Assign Settings dialogue. This allows you to customize how the Auto-Assign feature will work.

Clear Assignments
Select this menu item to clear the cells on the grid. You can clear all the cell or specific columns.

Select this menu item to display the Exclude Brothers dialogue. This allows you to remove brothers from specific meetings on the schedule. You would need to do this before running the Auto Assign process.

Show Conflicts
Select this menu item to highlight all conflicts of assignment. They will be coloured in cyan (this colour can't be changed at the moment). Any existing highlights get removed (for example, if you had previously highlighted a brothers assignment duties). The program will ensure the first conflict found (if any) is visible to the user since it might actually be off screen.

File menu Save
Save As File...
Once you have populated your schedule with assignments you can save it. Select this menu item to do this. It will display a dialogue for you to choose a name and location for the saved report. Saved reports use the .SRR file type. These files store all of the settings that are in place when the schedule was created. They can also be opened up again later on and modified etc..

Once you have saved a schedule, it's filename is displayed in the top left-hand corner of the dialogue.

Note: Save As File will always show a file dialogue whereas Save will only show one when saving a brand new schedule for the very first time.

The schedule can be printed out to a printer of your choosing by selecting the Print menu item. This feature is disabled if you are in Duty Slip mode. Also note that this is a very basic print out as it does not utilize the benefits of the HTML settings. If at all possible, you are encouraged to use the Print Preview facility to create more professional schedules.

Import From OCLM Assignment History
Press this menu item to display the Import From OCLM Assignment History dialog. Click the link for more information.

The schedule can also be exported into HTML and Comma Separated Values (CSV) formats. A HTML file can be opened directly in Microsoft Word for editing. This is very useful if you want to add some additional details like notes. The file dialogue displayed has a Settings button where you can alter how the report will look in the HTML file. The settings dialogue allows you to print the HTML schedule too. Note that these settings also affect how Print Preview operates and it can also be displayed directly by selecting Export Settings from the menu.

CSV format is a simple text output. Each text value is wrapped in quotes and delimited with a comma. Such a file can be opened using Microsoft Excel or used with Microsoft Word during mail merge. The Settings button (on the file dialogue) becomes disabled when you select this export file format.

Note that export to CSV is not available when in Duty Slip mode and the setting dialogue will be different when in this mode (see below).

Export Settings
Accesses the export settings dialogue directly. This is also a quick way of previewing schedules. Note that a different settings dialogue is displayed when you are in Duty Slip mode.

Print Preview
See link for more details.

Availability Report
See link for more details.

Help menu Help
Select this menu item to display this help topic.
Highlight Brother


Highlight mode


Notice Board

Duty Slip

Select a brother
Use this dropdown list to select a brother to highlight all his assignments. This is very useful if you want to print or export the report for a brother in particular, since he will clearly see his assignments.

ImageSomeone might supply you with their own SRR file and the names they used may not match those that you have held in Meeting Schedule Assistant. Alternatively, you may have assigned one or two individuals manually on the schedule (for whatever reason). In these situations you may like to use the Refresh feature. It will examine the active schedule and update the list to include all of the assigned names. Please use this feature with caution since the operation can't be undone! You can repeat the process at anytime, but you can't undo it. Having said that, the list will revert back to the default set of names the next time the editor is started.

Name highlightedSelect <NONE> to remove any highlighting from the schedule. Highlighted assignments are shown in cyan. Existing highlighted cells get removed (for example, conflicts of assignment).

All (Separate Pages)
This affects how reports are printed and exported. You end up getting a report for each brother with his assignments highlighted. Note that for HTML, it will seem that the tables are one under the other, but when you print, you will actually get a page break in between each one.

Selected (Separate Pages)
Choosing this setting works in exactly the same way, except that you can select which brothers you would like to include when printing or exporting. When this option is selected, the Select Brothers button becomes enabled. Press this button to alter the selected brothers. This selection is saved along with the rest of the programs settings.

Please be aware that when you use either of these advanced modes for printing and exporting schedules that only the brothers who actually have assignments will be included. There is no point printing or exporting a schedule for a brother who has no assignments.

Notice Board
This option is only enabled when using one of the advanced modes. Set this option if you want to include a schedule with no highlighting for the notice board.

Duty Slip
This option is available when the highlight has been set to All (Separate Pages) or Selected (Separate Pages). This option changes the way the reports are created. A small slip is created for each brother as opposed to a full schedule. Note that you can't directly print these duty slips. You must press Print Preview instead. Also, you can personalise how these slips look by pressing the Export Settings button.

Close Editor Exit
Press this button to close down the report editor and return to the main dialogue. If you made changes to the schedule and did not save it, then a popup dialogue will ask for confirmation before the dialogue is closed.

Insert MeetingInsert Meeting
Sometimes you might need to add a new meeting into the schedule. For example, if you have the circuit overseer visit it will most likely mean that you will have an extra meeting at the Kingdom Hall. In order to allow for this flexibility, you can right-click anywhere in the report grid to see this popup menu. Clicking Insert Meeting will then show this small dialogue.

Insert Meeting Window

Use the date control to set the date of the meeting and click OK. It will be inserted in the right place in the schedule and get selected automatically for you to populate the meeting assignments.

Set this option if you want to repeat this data every week on the current schedule.

Assignments to exclude
Tick any assignments that you would like excluded for the dates added to the schedule. When an assignment is excluded, it means the editor will not present you with a dropdown list.

Here is a scenario where you might use these extra features: Suppose you want to insert all the Saturday dates into the current schedule. Then simply choose the first Saturday date and then use the Recurrence setting. However, since this is a Saturday, only one of the assignments is valid. In this scenario, Weekend Ministry is a custom assignment and is the only valid assignment for a Saturday. So tick all but this assignment to exclude them from each row.

It is important to understand that the brothers listed for these meetings are the brothers available for the Midweek Meeting. I hope this is OK.

Delete MeetingDelete Meeting
Press this button to delete any meeting from the grid. You can delete special events or meetings that you had inserted as well. Since the change is permanent you are asked to confirm your actions.
Set Special EventSpecial Events
There are occasions when you might want to change the way the report looks and indicate a special event. Such events could include the Special Assembly Day, District Convention or Circuit Assembly. In order to do this, you must right-click the row in the schedule for which you want to assign this event. Then select the Set Special Event menu item to display a small popup dialogue.

Special EventUsing this dialogue you can choose one of the pre-defined events or type one of your own. When a row is converted into a special event, the cells get merged together so it all looks nice and tidy (see below). You can change the special event text again by double-clicking the cell.

Special Event Row

Of course, you can undo this change to the report by right-clicking again and selecting Remove Special Event, in which case it reverts back to the individual cells with dropdown lists. All rows specified as events will be ignored during the automatic assignment process, so it makes sense to define these before you do automatic assigning. These events are also saved when you save the report.

If you would like further options as to how these events are displayed in the reports, then consider exporting the report to HTML by the Export button. By using the export settings, you can alter the font that is used for the events.

You can use the Events Manager to automatically show special events on all new reports. However, when you set a special event from within the report itself, it will get added to the special events list. Also, there are times when you might want this event excluded from a service meeting schedule, in which case you should set the Exclude from Service Meeting schedule option.

Swap BrothersSwap Brothers
Sometimes you might want to swap two brothers assignments. For example, Auto Assign might always end up place the same brothers in the same columns. This is a quick way to swap the two brothers. Right-click anywhere on the schedule for this popup menu to display.

Before you can swap two brothers, you must select them. This is done by clicking the left mouse button whilst holding down the CTRL key (lower left of keyboard). A selected brother will be highlighted. To deselect a brother, simply CTRL + left mouse click again.

Two selected brothersNote that you can only select two brothers, although they do not have to be side by side. Once you have selected the two brothers, the Swap Brothers menu item will be available.

The two brothers must be available on the relevant meeting days for the swap to be successful. If one or the other can be swapped, the operation will fail and you will be informed.

Certain actions, like Show Conflicts will automatically deselect any highlighted cells.

Exclude assignment from many datesExclude assignment from many dates
Occasionally there are times when you want an extra assignment (column) added but you do not want it to be populated each week/meeting (row). This feature selected from the right click menu Exclude assignment from many dates caters for this matter by excluding the assignment from as few or as many weeks/meetings as necessary.

To illustrate: lets say you have a C.O visit followed by a host visit for an assembly and a memorial in the same period covered by the report schedule; as a consequence you want to add a feature assignment Other to cater for an additional translator at the meeting; or an extra attendant; or any other role. You create the assignment in the options dialogue and have it available for all meetings > assign names to the assignment in the publishers database > then when you create a report, right click and using the standard Ctrl+ click method, exclude the assignment from weeks you do not need it before you populate the remainder of the grid.

Exclude assignment from this dateExclude assignment from this date
Occasionally an assignment might not be required on the schedule and you wish for it to remain blank while not upsetting the sequence order of brothers selected for other cells. For example: no reader for the Watchtower is required during a Circuit Visit; no roving microphone handlers are required during the Memorial celebration.

When you (right click) exclude an assignment for a given date, you will be presented with a popup message box to confirm your actions. When Yes is applied, the specific cell on the schedule will change into an empty or blank one and become read-only; this means that when you engage the Auto Assign feature, it will bypass populating this cell with a name.

You can, should you change your mind, re-instate the dropdown list nature of an excluded cell.

Include assignment for this dateInclude assignment for this date
To revert any given blank or read-only cell back into a �dropdown list� type of cell again, select Include from the (right click) menu list. This action can only be performed for cells where you had previously selected Exclude assignment from this date.

Note: You cannot modify or adjust any cells that have become excluded via the program Options dialogue.

Schedule Notes Schedule Notes
There are occasions when you want to include a note at the bottom of a schedule. The reasons could be varied. For example, you might use such a note to remind brothers of their particular responsibilities. Select Insert Notes to add the default notes to the bottom of the schedule.
Edit Notes Select Edit Notes modify the current notes. This displays the dialogue shown to the left. The set of notes can be as long as you like because they will word wrap on the schedule. Double-clicking the existing notes will also display this dialogue.

If you want to keep the changes you have made permanent, so that if will be used the next time a schedule is created, then click Set Default.

When exporting the schedule to HTML you can use the export settings to customise the basic font characteristics for the notes.

Tip! You can consider including some HTML syntax in the notes. For example, the text <b><u>some text</u></b> will cause the text to show bold and underlined. So this is a very powerful way to make certain parts of the notes stand out.
Edit HeadingEdit Headings
Do you need to make a change to the report title or the column headings? Then use this popup menu item. All the current headings are presented to you in a dialogue and you can alter them accordingly. The changes you make to the headings are applied to the current schedule only. Click here for important information about the report title.