When Exchange users receive meeting requests, they typically have to deal with them "by hand"-- check their calendars, then accept or reject the meetings manually. There is a way to automate this process -- a Microsoft-authored event sink for Exchange called the Auto Accept Agent.
The agent runs on the Exchange server and processes incoming meeting requests for users. It checks the time requested against a user's calendar, and then either accepts or declines the request based on whether or not there's a scheduling conflict.
The agent uses what's called a "booking window," a specified range of time (by default 12 months) to provide some scope for its actions; anything that falls outside the booking window isn't automatically processed.
Once installed, the agent can be configured by editing the properties in a provided XML file. Among the options available are the ability to record the actions of the agent to the system log (including both accept and reject actions) and add debugging information to responses. You can also specify whether or not you want it to automatically enforce the end date for recurring meetings (so that recurring meetings with an end date past the booking window are automatically declined).
There are some caveats to using the Auto Accept Agent. For one, users need to be fairly scrupulous about keeping their calendars properly updated. Otherwise, the agent has no way of knowing how to reliably accept or reject anything, which can lead to user calendar inaccuracies.
Microsoft has published a detailed guide to using the Auto Accept Agent, which should be read by any administrator considering putting it in place. It explains a great many of the features and possible issues that go with it.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter and a regular contributor to SearchExchange.com.
You can automate meeting request processing easily within Outlook, avoiding the complexities of an Auto Accept agent.
Open Outlook Tools -> Options -> Calendar Options -> Resource Scheduling
Use these three options:
- Automatically accept meeting requests and cancellations.
- Automatically decline conflicting meeting requests.
- Automatically decline recurring meeting requests.
I have a question regarding Microsoft's Auto Accept Agent event sink for Exchange Server. I am testing it in a development environment and it has two big downsides for us:
- When scheduling a recurring meeting, users cannot see all conflicting occurrences before they hit 'Send.'
- When they hit Send and a meeting is declined due to specified number of conflicting occurrences, it still sends the invite to all invitees. So invitees get an invitation and accept it, but the resource is not available; the organizer has to send an updated invitation with a new resource. Is there anyway to avoid that? In other words, I do not want the invite to be sent to invitees if the resource is declined.
Any help is really appreciated.
I think these are limitations in the architecture of the Auto Accept Agent as it's currently implemented. For a more robust version of the same technology, you might want to look into Exchange Resource Manager, which has a trial version available.
Serdar Yegulalp, tip author
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Related information from SearchExchange.com:
- Learning Center: Toolbox for Exchange administrators
- Tip: Prototyping and debugging Exchange event sinks
- Topics Library: Exchange scripts and programming
- Topics Library: Outlook and Exchange user settings
- Topics Library: Contacts and calendars
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