Options MenuThe Publishers Database is available from the Options menu.

Publishers Database WindowPublishersDetailsAssignmentsAvailability

Note IconLearn more about Publishers Database by looking through the rest of this help topic. Or, as an alternative, click on the option you are interested in on the screenshot above.


The Publishers Database is at the very heart of Meeting Schedule Assistant. It was introduced in version 17.0.9. Up until then the personnel was managed from different locations within the application and in some instances you had to duplicate names so that they would show in all the required drop lists. In addition, extra information (like notes, dates not available or default exclusions) were all stored in external data files.

All of these various aspects of the application have now been brought together so they can be managed in one place. The database itself is a XML data file and is held in the user application data folder.

Note IconIt is beyond the scope of this help topic to describe the syntax of the XML file. Do not manually alter the database unless you know what you are doing. Making such modifications outside of the application is done entirely at your own risk of data loss.

Database MenuIf you a seasoned user of Meeting Schedule Assistant and is this your first time using version 17.0.9 or higher then you will need to upgrade your database. The only other time that you might need to run through this process again is if you restore a backup of your settings that were pre version 17.0.9.

As already mentioned, the required information about all of the brothers and sisters was being held in lots of different places. During the upgrading process the application tries to pull all of this information together for you automatically.

You are informed if the upgrade was successful.

Note IconPlease review the database to ensure everything is correct!

- Importing Publishers

Database MenuThe Import Publishers menu item is only enabled if the Public Talks application is installed. This feature has been provided to assist you in populating the Publishers Database.

It reads the Public Talks Database and displays a list of all those who are not yet already in the Publisher Database:
Import Publishers Window
From this list you can then decide on who to import them by setting the check box against their name. In addition, you can set up some of the basic information, like:

  • Their gender
  • If they are a publisher or serving in some capacity
  • Or their availability

Notes IconAll other refinements (like assignments) would need to be made once they have been added to the publisher database.

- Exporting Publishers

Database MenuThe Export Publishers menu item allows you to export a list of all the publishers names into a simple XML document.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?>
  <Names xmlns="http://www.publictalksoftware.co.uk/msa">
  <Name>Publisher 1</Name>
  <Name>Publisher 2</Name>
  <Name>Publisher 3</Name>
  <Name>Publisher 4</Name>

Managing the Publisher Database

- Publisher List

Publisher ListThis displays a list of all of the publishers held in your database. There are three actions that you can take:

  1. Select an existing publisher so that you can make any needed changes.
  2. Press the Add button to add a new publisher to the database.
  3. Press the Delete button to remove a publisher from the database.
  4. Press the Lookup button to display a list of all the student assignments the publisher has given. Click on the link to learn more about this feature.

The Lookup button behaves like this:

  • If you simply click the button it will display the students congregation history information.
  • If you click the arrow you can choose to display the students history information for the congregation or the foreign language group.

- Display Filter

Display FilterYou can limit the names displayed in the list by using this filter.

There are three choices available:

  • Everyone
    This option displays all publishers held in the database.
  • Congregation
    This option only displays the publishers who have been assigned to the Congregation.
  • Foreign-Language Group
    This option only displays the publishers who have been assigned to the Foreign-Language Group.

- Extra Publisher Filters

Click the drop-down arrow on the right to display a drop-down filter menu to fine tune which publishers are displayed.

You can filter by:

  • Serving As
  • Appointed as

Select any combination of options that you want to filter by and the list of publishers will be updated.

- Filter by Name

Puiblisher FilterIt is also possible to limit the displayed list of publishers by using this text filter.

All publishers that contain the text you have entered into the filter will be displayed. The text can appear anywhere in their names and the search is case insensitive.

Note IconPlease note that the publisher list and buttons etc. are disabled if you are in the middle of editing an existing publisher.

- Publisher Details

Publisher Details

Use the top part of the window to specify the publishers name. Then use the drop lists (these are self explanatory) to set their:

  • Gender (Brother / Sister)
  • Serving As (Unbaptised Publisher / Publisher / Regular Pioneer / Other)
  • Appointed As (Not Appointed / Ministerial Servant / Elder)

- Assigned To

The publisher can be assigned to the Congregation and / or the Foreign-Language Group. The majority of Congregations do not sponsor a group. However, if you do, please remember to correctly assign each publisher.

Use the Notes area as you require.

- Publisher Assignments

AssignmentsThe left column presents a list of all possible assignments that are available in Meeting Schedule Assistant. This includes all the mandatory assignments and any custom assignments that you have added.

The right column is for setting up exclusion defaults. There may be instances where a brother can be available for some assignments and not others on the same meeting. As an example, the Watchtower Conductor would not be available as the Reader or for Microphones etc.

Note IconNote that there are both Assistant and Student assignments! Also, that default exclusions are only applied when creating new schedules. You need to also be aware that they are only applied to the active schedule type (for most users, this will be the default schedule type).

- Publisher Availability

Publisher AvailabilityUnlike default exclusions, the publishers' availability takes affect no matter what the active schedule type is. These options determine which meetings that the selected brother will be available for. This will be applied across all assignments. These settings determine if his name will be available for a given meeting when creating a schedule.

Dates Not AvailableThis displays the next twelve months worth of dates. Using this list you can uncheck any dates when the currently selected publisher might not be available.

Doing this will remove them from all assignments on the schedules you create that encompass the relevant dates. If appropriate, they will also be excluded from automatic assignments.

As with the availability check options described above, this set of dates are applied across all assignments.

There are times where you might want to adjust dates over several weeks at a time.  To assist you with this there is the Date Range button. This opens a window which displays a calendar where you can select a range of dates from / to detailing when the volunteer is (or is not) unavailable.

Note IconPlease note that the dates displayed in the list will use the custom date format that is specified in the options dialogue (if set).

Publisher Availability - Order of Precedence

As you can see, there are several ways that you can indicate when a publisher is available. Each of them has their uses. However, they all come together to provide a composite overview of the publishers' availability for a given assignment. Thus, the application follows a strict order of precedence to decide if a publisher can be used:

  1. It first checks the dates list to see if they are available for the meeting date (Dates Not Available)
  2. Next, it checks their basic availability for the meeting type (Midweek Meeting / Weekend Meeting)
  3. Finally, it looks at what their exclusion defaults are for the given assignment