Scheduling Meetings with Room Finder


EDIT 4/15/2010: Fixed two typos in examples.

The process of finding a conference room in the building you want to meet and then hoping it is available can be a time-consuming process. Well this is all about to change! In the release of Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2010 we have introduced a new feature called Room Finder.

Room finder allows meeting organizers the ability to quickly find an available conference room in the location they desire. Without the overhead of searching through the GAL trying to locate the room, or trying to remember the conference room name. As you can see below, users scheduling meetings can now easily find the room in just a couple steps.

  1. Select your desired meeting time and date
  2. Select the location/building for the meeting
  3. Select an available room.

That's it! You quickly found an available room.

Room Finder remembers the previous building list you used and places it at the top of the list for easy access on your next meeting request.

At this point you may be saying to yourself that this is great, but how much of a hassle is this to setup and maintain? Well, creating and maintaining Room Lists are as easy as using the feature in Outlook 2010! A matter of fact, you have probably already been using some of the same tools room lists use. Since the Room Lists are specially marked distribution groups they use the same tools that you are using to manage your distribution groups.

Let's walk through a few examples on how we create room lists and add conference rooms.

Create a room list

The first step is to create these specially marked room lists that Outlook looks for to populate the fields in Room finder.

New-DistributionGroup -Name "Building 32 Conference Rooms" -OrganizationalUnit "contoso.com/rooms" -RoomList

Adding a room to room list

Let's add our first conference room to the newly created room list

Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity "Building 32 Conference Rooms" -Member confroom3223@contoso.com

Convert a Distribution Group to a Room List

You may already have created distribution groups in the past that contain your conference rooms. No worries, you don't need to re-create them, we can convert them quickly into a useable room list.

Set-DistributionGroup -Identity "Building 34 Conference Rooms" -RoomList

- David Los


Comments (12)
  1. bday says:

    Very cool. Is this ok to do in a coexistence Exchange 2003/2007/2010 environment with Outlook 2003 users still? They obviously can’t use the room lists, but will the conference rooms themselves still be 100% backwards compatible?

  2. Anon says:

    Awesome! My favourite feature in Exchange 2010 to date!

  3. Phil Braniff says:

    Please just fix the GAL Search (the "Rooms" button) to do the work for us. Use location information (City, State, -Office) and -ResourceCapacity information along with the Room attributes set. All the "-ResourceCustom" information is there in AD if you would just look for it correctly, that information has to be setup before it is added to a room. The search should take advantage of this built in table in AD to list the room attributes that are available for search.

    It takes a little more effort when you set up the Room to define the location, capacity and the custom settings for the resource mailbox but most do not change that often.

    Also searching for a room that holds a "least" a certain count would take advantage of the -ResourceCapacity information which is just ornamental at this time.

  4. Peter Noorderijk says:

    Good article only two typos in the examples…

    The example on how to create a room list must be corrected with -OrganizationalUnit

    The example on how to adding a room to the roomlist must be corrected with Add-DistributionGroupMember

  5. David Los [MSFT] says:

    bday – Glad you like the feature!  You can create the roomlists without impacting users on earlier versions of Exchange.  However, even if a legacy exchange user is running Outlook 2010, they will not be able to see the Room Finder feature.  For Room Finder to work, the mailbox needs to be on an Exchange 2010 Mailbox Server

  6. Phil Braniff says:

    The display names of the rooms demonstrate the need for a better search engine for the Room button. Why place room capacity and room features in the display name when there are resource fields designed specifically for capacity and room feature lists?, because the search tool doesn’t search correctly for capacity nor for custom room attributes set for the rooms.

    This ‘feature’ only serves to cause more work for administrators who now need to also setup and populate the RoomLists, not a big deal when you only have a few buildings, but a huge problem when you have thousands of buildings.

    We are populating 5000+ room mailboxes from a facilities database with location, room capacity and room equipment/feature lists using the correct fields as they were designed to be used, but still nothing to utilize this information from the Rooms button for searching for an appropriate sized and featured room.

    So for me No I don’t like the feature, it is just causing us more work and will only serve to add to the confusion for users when they try to book rooms.

  7. MaximumExchange.ru says:

    Russian version of this post is here/Русская версия этой статьи здесь: http://www.maximumexchange.ru/2010/04/16/scheduling-meetings-with-room-finder/

  8. Damon Brinkley says:

    Can you add other resources and their availibility to a room like a projector, laptop, etc?

  9. Phil Braniff says:

    Yes you can add the ‘features’ to the Room mailbox. If you need to ‘schedule’ the projector or laptop then you should set up an “Equipment” mailbox to schedule the Equipment along with the Room.

    To setup the “ResourceCustom” features assigned to a “Room” mailbox…

    You have to setup the list of -ResourceCustom ‘features’ that may be added to a Room mailbox by using the “Set-ResourceConfig –ResourcePropertySchema Room/Projector,Room/Laptop  etc “ to setup the list of ‘features’ available to ALL Room’s.

    To add the specific ‘feature’ to a Room use the "Set-Mailbox …. -ResouceCustom Projector,Laptop "

    This is more to identify what is actually in the Room vs. trying to show what Equipment can be scheduled in the room.

    Also set the room capacity using "Set-Mailbox … -ResourceCapacity 9999"  

    Both the Capacity and features will display in a properly configured Rooms display in the Address Book  ("Capacity" and "Description" fields in the Address Book).

    Capacity is just a numeric string (no numeric use) and the list of ‘features’ assigned from the ResourcePropertySchema list are strung together after the word Room in the Description field separated by commas. Again though all possible room features are known to the system via the ResourcePropertySchema there are no Room search features to take advantage of knowing what features are available in the Room’s.

    You just have to eyeball both capacity and room ‘features’ when searching for rooms.

  10. Eug Beran says:

    Nice, thanks for posting.  Couple/three questions:

    1)  I’ve got conference room resources in Exchange 2003 – will the meeting already scheduled in them move over to Exchange 2010?

    2)  I’m still confused – how do the Outlook 2003 users schedule a conference room if these conference rooms are made a resource in Exchange 2010?  The same way they do now?

    3)  For loaner laptops that people take on the road with them, would you recommend this setup for those resources as well?

    Thanks,

    Eug

  11. MJSkitt says:

    Great article, one question do you have to do anything different for a Ex2010 database that has a copy?

    We have one user that can see the new list, their database doesn’t have a copy, we have another user whos database has a single copy but can’t view the list?

    Thanks

    Michael.

  12. neo says:

    Mate, I’m quite new to Exchange 2010. The previous version 2003 which i have some experience allows personnel to view who is booking the room and the subject heading. I can’t seem to find these information on the new exchange. This is important as some personnel may want to do an exchange of room resource and need to find out more. If everyone starts coming to the administrator i think we will be drag down by simple work of just disclosing who actually book the rooms.

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