Retiring calendar restrictions

Discussions about the Calendar Tool at lds.org. Questions about the calendar on the classic site should be posted in the LUWS forum.
CrockettDR
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Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby CrockettDR » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:08 pm

Calendar “restrictions” have always been a source of confusion in the calendar system. They are helpful for the few users that really know how to use them, but very disruptive to a vast number of those who don’t understand them but use them anyway. Over the years we have tried various approaches to increase understanding and get them used right. It has been decided to remove this feature from the calendar and instead have units sharing buildings work out their agreements for exclusive nights through coordination and not enforce it in the calendar system. The building scheduler should be aware of the agreements and can monitor and resolve exceptions.

We plan to remove the ability to create new restrictions in the next few weeks and then give a few months before we delete any existing ones in the system. We are will probably be notifying all building schedulers about this change.

We welcome feedback on this change.

Dave Crockett – calendar product manager

russellhltn
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby russellhltn » Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:39 pm

CrockettDR wrote:We welcome feedback on this change.


Wow.

Out of curiosity, what's been the calendar adoption rate among units? From being here in the forum, the whole idea of allowing "anyone" to schedule a building sounds chaotic, not outright frightening to some units. In my stake, the SP still wants people to schedule the stake center though the Executive Secretary. Eliminating restrictions is likely to feed this fear. (I'm not saying the fear is rational, I'm just saying it's there and affects the decision to use the calendar.)

For a time, we did have a problem of people not understanding restrictions and complain of "double-booking" but I can't remember any posts like that for several months now - probably not since the beginning of the year.

OTOH, perhaps this will spur some units in my stake to actually use the calendar. I think they've been relying on the restrictions to protect their events. Now, if they don't schedule things, it will appear the building it open for another unit to use. On the downside, I can already see the conflict: Two units show up at the same time. One unit saying they scheduled it, while the other says there's a "gentleman's agreement" (not documented anywhere in lds.org) that says they shouldn't have scheduled their event.
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CrockettDR
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby CrockettDR » Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:59 am

Adoption by units has been good, about 79% in North America, up from 61% a year ago. Other countries slower, at 23% up from 11% a year ago. International use being slow is expected because we didn't have the help articles translated until this year and we still have some localization issues (date/time formats). The way your stake is operating, is definitely an outlier, but we do here from a few stake presidents who want tighter control on who can schedule, but they are few. As you know in the UI we put in warnings about using restrictions and the usage has gone down this past year. In the help articles we also put in warnings and mentioned that they could go away in the future. There are about 350 stakes that are using restrictions. About 25% of the retrictions are "blocked" restrictions, blocking all units. Those can simply be turned into building events which we will change automatically. My stake was using restrictions in one building, a repeating restriction, but the new building scheduler had no idea it was there and it was stopping people from scheduling.

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gregwanderson
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby gregwanderson » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:13 am

When a "feature" feels like a bug, good on you for getting rid of it.

I had a situation where one of the wards in our building was having Ward Conference on a Sunday so someone from the Stake put it on the calendar and reserved the whole building for that whole Sunday. So that meant that our ward's Bishop's office was technically unavailable for a PEC or Ward Council meeting I was trying to put on the calendar. Of course, it was a misunderstanding by the person from the Stake who was trying to set up the event on the calendar. And, of course, just because the calendar said we couldn't use the Bishop's office didn't mean that we couldn't really use the Bishop's office.

It seems to me that people trying to schedule an event would notice a competing event at the same time and location, whether or not the calendar software slapped their wrists and said, "Hey! You can't have that room!"

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aebrown
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby aebrown » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:29 am

My stake uses restrictions for exactly what they were intended for. Every building in our stake has three wards, and there are long-standing rules as to who gets to use the building (particularly the cultural hall) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The restrictions enforce those rules, and it has been working very smoothly ever since we set up those restrictions. I have no idea just how many times someone tried to schedule a building that their ward was restricted from using, but I certainly heard about several and was able to educate people as to what the rules were. I'm sure that such attempts were thwarted many more times than I heard about.

I know there have been some problems with people using restrictions for other purposes, and some people don't understand them (it is indeed a somewhat complex concept). But I really don't like the decision to simply remove a very useful feature. I don't share your faith that it will work out well to "have units sharing buildings work out their agreements for exclusive nights through coordination and not enforce it in the calendar system." There is a lot of turnover in callings, and I think you are far too optimistic if you think that everyone with scheduling permissions will understand those details. Once restrictions are removed, I think it will be quite common for people to schedule events on days they have no right to schedule. There is no notification that that happened until someone in the correct ward tries to add an event. At that point, the ward that incorrectly scheduled the event may have plans that are difficult to change.

I'm curious how you came up with the numbers that would justify your statement "They are helpful for the few users that really know how to use them, but very disruptive to a vast number of those who don’t understand them but use them anyway." Really? There are only a "few users" that use restrictions properly? There are a "vast number" who don't? In a stake you really only need one or perhaps 3-4 people who understand how to implement the restrictions. Surely that can't be an insurmountable obstacle. Everyone else simply gets blocked if they try to schedule a building their ward is restricted from using.

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aebrown
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby aebrown » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:31 am

gregwanderson wrote:I had a situation where one of the wards in our building was having Ward Conference on a Sunday so someone from the Stake put it on the calendar and reserved the whole building for that whole Sunday. So that meant that our ward's Bishop's office was technically unavailable for a PEC or Ward Council meeting I was trying to put on the calendar.

That certainly sounds like a problem where some training is needed. But that scenario has nothing to do with restrictions, so I don't see how it is germane to this discussion.

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aebrown
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby aebrown » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:32 am

CrockettDR wrote:About 25% of the retrictions are "blocked" restrictions, blocking all units. Those can simply be turned into building events which we will change automatically. My stake was using restrictions in one building, a repeating restriction, but the new building scheduler had no idea it was there and it was stopping people from scheduling.

I agree that "Blocked" restrictions are of limited usefulness -- a real event is a much better choice. I have no problem at all with removing that aspect of the restrictions feature.

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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby russellhltn » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:54 am

CrockettDR wrote:The building scheduler should be aware of the agreements and can monitor and resolve exceptions.

What tools will be added to aid the Building Scheduler in monitoring the situation? Currently, everything on the facility calendar is the same color. I don't see any way to monitor this short of opening each event. Worse, some units allow units to share a building, but place limits on what rooms they can use. For example. two units may share a night, but they get the cultural hall on alternating weeks. This would be quite hard to pro-actively monitor in the existing system. And they'd have the most need for this since the agreement is more complex and harder to track than "Tuesdays are yours".

I wonder if the solution is to rename the feature (yet again). Perhaps calling it "ward night". And perhaps removing it from the calendar main page and placing it in a different section that guides the user into creating a repeating "ward night". The idea being that it's something set up at the beginning of the year and largely left alone, as well as to make it look less like an event or a one-off scheduling solution. Perhaps make it always a repeating schedule (which can be set to repeat zero times).

Edit: I think one significant issues with the current restrictions is it behaves too much like an event. If you do set up "ward night" at the beginning of the year, it's difficult to grant exceptions. I'm thinking a UI change that better supports the ward night usage would take care of the confusion. Along with that is a change in the message from conflicts to better communicate the requested event is in conflict with "ward night" and not another event.
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sbradshaw
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby sbradshaw » Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:55 pm

I agree with russellhltn that restrictions behave too much like events, so as they are I think it's good to remove them. However, one way this feature could be replaced would be to allow the stake schedulers to put a text note above or under the calendar that they can list, for example, which nights are assigned to which wards. So, just text above or below the calendar that doesn't enforce, but does inform.
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Re: Retiring calendar restrictions

Postby russellhltn » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:46 pm

I've been trying to think of a better name for this function. I'd suggest "Scheduling Template", with a UI that encourages setting things up for the whole year and making it easy to add one-off exceptions. And when someone schedules something that goes against the template, they'd be told it doesn't fit the template and to either reschedule or ask for an exception.

And when you select to display a facility calendar, the background is grayed out for times not allowed by the template.
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