Adding Items to a Signup Schedule1

To create a new schedule item, click on an Add icon2, then:


  1. See Doing a Copy, Add Multiple Items & Signups, Merge Actual Schedule, and Activity Grids for ways to create multiple schedule items at one time.
  2. If you click on the Add icon to the left of an existing schedule item, the Add Item to Schedule form will be loaded with the properties associated with that row of the schedule.
  3. To create a new activity with default properties when you click on an Add button, simply enter the desired new name. To instead create a customized activity, click on the and then on the dynamic menu's Create link.
    (Note that an activity's properties influence how its schedule items look in the schedule).
  4. To add days to an event phase when you create a schedule item, click on a "more days" link at the bottom of Make Signup Schedule.
  5. This number is referred to as the # of spots the item has.
  6. You can use a previously defined why-unavailable term (Unavailable and Holiday are built-in), or you can define a new one just by entering it. (You can also use the Manage UI Terms and Colors page).
  7. The Manage Activities page can be used to create, update, or delete multiple activities at once. It is also the only way to create sliceable activities and services.

Editing Schedule Items

You can edit a schedule item by clicking on its Copy, Update, or Delete icon. To apply an editing action (say Copy) to multiple schedule items at once, select the desired items first and then click on an editing icon.

You can also edit an item's activity, by clicking on the activity's name.

Note: this section is phrased in terms of the list layout. In the grid or calendar layout, the icons are replaced with a dropdown menu. In other words, instead of clicking on an icon to do a command, you select the desired command from a dropdown menu.

Making Changes

Doing a Delete

Click on a and then click on the Confirm-box's OK button. If you select multiple schedule items and any have signups, you will be given the option of deleting the signups as well or skipping over such schedule items.

If you clicked on the icon by mistake or the count of selected items is not what you expected, or any have signups you are unsure about, click on the Cancel button. Note: if any do have signups and you choose to delete them as well, their owners will not be sent cancellation confirmation messages.

Doing an Update

Click on a , fill in the fields you want to change, and then click on the box's Update button. Processing proceeds as follows.

Doing a Copy

Click on a , fill in the fields you want to change, and then click on the box's Copy button. Each selected schedule item is then processed as follows:

Unless Keep Selection is checked, all items are deselected and the Copy box is closed afterwards.

Notes for Copy and Update:

  1. To make a relative change to the Date field or a Time field, enter +n or -n. This causes the new value to be calculated by adding or subtracting the amount you specified.
  2. To change an item's activity type, just use Set Base Activity and Set Location in the usual way. However you must also set any extra fields implied by the new type. In particular, to go from a planning activity to a main on-site task, you must enter a start time and an end time.
  3. If you update the date or time of a schedule item that contains signups, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to inform any people affected by the change.
  4. To close either self-signups or all signups for a schedule item, use the Availability field's dropdown menu.

Keep Selection checkbox

When this is checked, schedule items stay selected and the box is not closed when you click on the Copy or Update button. This helps build a repetitive schedule quickly. For example, suppose a teacher of algebra, geometry, trig, and calculus wants students to signup online for half-hour slots from 1pm to 3pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Also suppose she has already created the Monday part of her schedule. Then to create the rest of the schedule, she could:

The Keep Selection checkbox is also of benefit when creating new locations, as shown at the end of this example.

Selecting Schedule Items

Direct Selection

The simplest way to (de)select a schedule item is to click on its checkbox. You can also deselect all selected items at once by clicking on Sel None.

Selecting Matches

You can select schedule items that match various criteria. To do this, click on Sel More, fill in 0 or more criteria, and click on a Select button. This will select the items in the current schedule that match all the entered criteria — or if you entered no criteria, the entire schedule.

Match criteria:

The middle Select button makes it easy to incrementally build up a selection. For example, you can select all the activities at multiple locations by entering the 1st location, clicking on Select, replacing the 1st location with the 2nd, clicking on Select, and so on.

Do Setup Actions dropdown menu

Changing How Many On-site Days There Are in an Event

Important Note: these commands affect all schedules of an event.

When you create an event, it starts with the chosen number of setup and takedown days, and the chosen event duration. If you ever need to extend the event, use the link near the bottom of Make Signup Schedule. If you need to alter how many on-site days there are in any other way, use Insert Days and Remove Days as described below.

Note: sometimes these commands need to be used in conjunction with shifting the event's date range. If so, just display the event's Update page and change its start date.

Inserting Days

Insert Days inserts the specified number of empty days. If the specified date is already in the event, it pushes the days past this date later. For example, if a schedule ran from 4/12-4/16 and you inserted 2 days at 4/15, then the old 4/15 would become 4/17 and the old 4/16 would become 4/18. Conversely if you only inserted days before 4/12 or after 4/16, then existing days would not be affected.

If Phase is set to Automatic, the phase of the inserted days is derived from the day that currently has 1st Day's date. If 1st Day is before the start of the event, phase is derived from the event's first day. If it is after the end of the event, phase is derived from the event's last day.

If you want to create the "other phase", set Phase to that phase. For example, suppose 4/12-4/16 was the whole event and that these days were all during-event days. Then if you wanted to add a takedown day on 4/17, you would need to set Phase to Takedown. If you did not do this, another during-event day would be added to the schedule.

Removing Days

Remove Days removes the specified days. If there are days in the schedule after the removed chunk, the default is for them to move earlier. For example, if a schedule ran from 4/12-4/18 and you deleted 4/15, then 4/16 would become 4/15, 4/17 would become 4/16, and there would no longer be a 4/18.

Conversely, if you set How to Fill Hole to Leave later days same..., the end date of the event does not change. For example, to reverse an Insert Days whose days were entirely before the start of an event, you would use this setting.

Schedule Properties

Naming a Schedule

A schedule's name appears in the What's Going On table on Self-Signup Home and on the title line of signup pages. If you decide its current name is inappropriate for your event, use Set Schedule Properties (or the Rename link on the event's Manage Schedules page) to make it something more appropriate.

Schedule Visibility

You can choose the signup pages on which a schedule can be used. Your Visibility options are:

For example, if you plan to create an All Signup Pages view for each day in a schedule, you might not want your people to see the overall actual schedule. If so, set its Visibility to Privileged Signup Pages or Admin Signup Page.

Per-User Signup Limit

Normally people can signup for multiple dates and times in a schedule. But if 1 Signup in Entire Schedule is selected, a person can only signup for 1 date/time in this schedule. Similarly if 1 Signup per Location is selected, activity location is the discriminator. For example, if you have activity names whose locations are Precinct 1, Precinct 2, and so on, then no person can signup twice in the same precinct.

Note: if a person already has multiple signups when a limit is turned on, any signups that do not obey the new limit are unaffected.

Self-Cancelling and Subbing

This feature's dropdown menu controls whether a completed signup on a self-signup page has a Cancel link or a Sub-ask link, and how these commands behave. A completed signup is an immediate signup or an approved request.

The setting of this dropdown menu is ignored in the following situations:


This feature also controls whether schedule items with signup limits have waitlists. A waitlist is the people who have signed up beyond an item's signup limit. The size of an item's waitlist depends on how big its signup limit is. The allowed overflow is 4 times the limit you set, but with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 60.

A schedule item's count info tells a user when her signup would go onto its waitlist. For example, if an item's limit was 4, 4 of 4 or 5 of 4 would indicate this. But when an item's signup style is Immediate*, there is a more direct indicator: its signup button says Can Sub. Either way, when a schedule item's waitlist is full (i.e. 20 of 4 in the example above), a user would see "Taken" rather than a signup button.

*Style is effectively Immediate for self-signup requests when the subbing policy is Cancel & Replace. See below.

The Subbing Policies PRESTO Provides

Select the desired policy from the Cancelling & Subbing dropdown menu:

  1. Cancel Just Cancels (no waitlist) cancels the signup. This is the only option that does not provide waitlists.
  2. Cancel Cancels & Replaces cancels the signup. If any signups are pending at the schedule item, PRESTO also subs in the least recent pending person (i.e. 1st come 1st serve).
  3. Cancels, & Emails Admin If Waiters cancels the signup. If the schedule item's waitlist is not empty, the event's Signup Coordinator is emailed. (In other words, choose this option to do admin-controlled replaces as opposed to automatic replaces).
  4. Sub-ask Emails Admin says a completed signup has a Sub-ask link instead of a Cancel link. If the user clicks this link, the event's Signup Coordinator is emailed about the person's desire to back out. (Groups that want users to take cancellation more seriously would tend to use this rather than the previous bullet. On the other hand, this creates more admin work, since you are now involved in both the Cancel and the Replace).
  5. Admin Sub-ask if Req; Canc&Repl if Sup behaves like the 4th bullet for approved requests and like the 2rd bullet for immediate signups.
  6. Sub-ask Enables Users to Sub In says a completed signup has a Sub-ask link instead of a Cancel link. If a user clicks this link, other users will see a Sub In button or link. Doing a Sub In is how a 2nd user takes over a signup of the 1st user (and possibly gives up a signup in return). See Self-Signup Help's sub-in and swapping info for details.
  7. User Sub-ask if Req; Canc&Repl if Sup behaves like the 6th bullet for approved requests and like the 2rd bullet for immediate signups.

More on the Cancel & Replace Policy

This policy also affects signup requests:

Subbing and Admin Responsibities

No matter what subbing policy you choose, you use the same tools when you get involved. You do a Cancel to sub out someone, and you do a signup, reassign, or request approval to sub in someone. Generally you do the Cancel at the same time you do the sub-in. But if you need to delay it for some reason, that is your prerogative.

The admin UI is directly affected by your subbing policy in two small ways:

Some other things to be aware of:

"If you really need me" Subs

The above policies help people who actively want to take someone else's place. But you may also want to have subs in your "back pocket" for emergencies.

You can automate emergency subbing somewhat with PRESTO as follows:

Venue's Time Zone

Usually a schedule's time zone is your group's time zone (see the Configure Group page). When it is not, set this field to the desired time zone. Setting this property does not affect group-wide things. It is only used in processing schedule-related properties, like deadlines.

Note: Today for an event is determined with respect to the time zone of the event's first actual schedule.

Signups, Cancels, and Edit-Until Fields after Signup/Cancel Deadline

Last-minute self-signups and self-cancellations can be an inconvenience for certain kinds of activities. By setting a deadline, you can at least make people contact you directly regarding last-minute stuff. Conversely, having a deadline means you know when it is safe to start looking for "emergency replacements". For example, you do not have to worry about the position getting filled while you are saying "pretty please" to someone else.

In some schedules, users just do requests and admins make all the actual task assignments. To allow users to cancel a request only prior to it being approved, check Assigned Requests not Cancellable. After assignment, a self-Cancel behaves as described in the 1st bullet below.

After the deadline is reached, a self-signup page works as follows:

The Time-based Deadlines

For on-site schedule items (except those that allow unlimited signups), there is a 5 minute signup grace period. That is, Signups Closed is not displayed until 5 minutes after the deadline. This gives people a chance to signup online for things cancelled right at the deadline. Conversely it means people know when to make a last-ditch effort to signup online.

For planning activities, deadline checking uses a time-of-activity of 11:59:59PM. So if you want to close signups for a questionnaire at 6PM on the fill-out-by date, you would set a deadline of 6 Hours Before. Also Questionnaires, Scorecards, and Contests treat deadlines larger than 24 hours as 24 hours because "Fill out by" or "Enter by" is in the signup page's UI.


  1. The deadline does not apply to Planning Positions and activities in rolling templates.
  2. The default deadline is 8 hours before the activity for on-site tasks, and after the date of the activity for planning activities.
  3. UI values that are in days are converted into hours. For example, 3-days-before means 72 hours before the schedule item.

The State-based deadlines

Use these deadlines when you want item state to trigger when users are no longer allowed to do Cancels or change Edit-Until fields:

Schedules with Multiple Periods per Day

You can define up to 4 start-time ranges. The 1st period runs from the specified time up to the 2nd specified time, and so on. The last period runs until midnight. In some contexts, periods like this are called "work shifts".

The period a schedule item falls into is used in two ways by PRESTO:

If you need different shifts on different days of your event, you could simply create multiple schedules for it. What this means to your users is that the What's Going On table has multiple schedules to click on, rather than all your activities being in one scrollable page.

Activity Grids

In an activity grid, all the specified activities are scheduled at all the specified times. Many events do not have this sort of schedule, but for an event that does, Add Activity Grids enables you to create its schedule items very quickly.

An Extreme Example

Consider an event that handles a week's court reservations at a tennis club. Say the club has 4 courts, is open from 8AM to 8PM every day, and that people can signup for a court for 1 hour. Then each day there are 4*12 different slots people can signup for. With Add Activity Grids, you can create all 48*7 activities at once as follows:


  1. If an entered activity name does not yet exist, an activity whose type is Main On-site Task is created when you click on an Add button. (If the entered name includes a comma, the new activity's location will be set to the characters after the comma).
  2. Creating a grid with more than five activities must be done in stages. For example, if the tennis club above had 8 courts, you would do two Add's. More specifically, you would: click on Add, change the court numbers (1 to 5, 2, to 6, and so on), and click on Add & Close.
  3. For a 1-day-a-week schedule, set Days Apart to 7.
  4. Setting # of Spots just in the 1st row would have been enough, because a row's spots defaults to the value specified for the previous row.
  5. To give a row unlimited spots, set # of Spots to 0.

End1/Start2: Gaps and Background Tasks

Both need to be specified only if there are gaps between periods. For example, if you wanted to create two 2-hour periods with a lunch break in between, you could set Start1 to 10am, End1 to 12noon, and Start2 to 1pm.

For Main On-site Tasks, setting just End1 or just Start2 is equivalent. For Background On-site Tasks, set End1 if you want the task to have an End Time and Start2 if you do not.

Office Hours and the Limits of the Grid Approach

Suppose a teacher wants students to signup online for her office hours. Suppose also she teaches just one kind of class, and she wants to offer half hour slots from 1 to 3 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She could use Add Activity Grids to create this schedule. The key points are she would set Number of Grids to 3, Days Apart to 2, First Start and First End to 1PM and 1:30PM, and Number of Periods to 4.

Suppose instead she teaches algebra, geometry, trig, and calculus, and wants one period for each subject on each day. Now she could not use Add Activity Grids as conveniently. She could do 4 Add's, specifying 1 period and 1 activity on each Add. But it is probably easier and certainly less error-prone to make Monday's schedule, and then use Select and Copy (as shown above).

Using Add Activity Grids in conjunction with other actions

Consider the Election sample event. It has similar but not identical morning and afternoon activities, plus the shifts overlap a little. Also imagine there are 6 precincts rather than 2. If you were creating this schedule from scratch, the following would be an efficient approach:

Start with Add Activity Grids:

Then create the Closer's schedule item, plus do some tweaks:

Finish up with Select and Copy:

Multi-Schedule Events: Creating and Deleting Schedules

Some events deal with disjoint categories of people. For example, a conference might have attendees signing up for classes and volunteers signing up to organize the event.

Having multiple actual schedules is a natural way to deal with this scenario. (On the other hand, view-only schedules enable you to present a single actual schedule in multiple ways). You could create an Attendee schedule whose schedule items identified the classes attendees could take and a Volunteer schedule whose schedule items were the tasks people needed to do to make the event happen.

To create a new actual schedule, select the Create Schedule menu item, fill in the box (see Schedule Properties above), and click on its Create button. To delete a schedule, select the Delete Schedule menu item. It will delete the schedule AND its schedule items.

Other Setup Actions

Setting up the View of an Actual Schedule

The factory settings of a new schedule are Activities Listed by Date, show All Signups, and no match criteria. If these settings are not right for you (or you want to experiment), click on the icon.

Although all schedule-view features can be used on an actual schedule, you would normally show the full schedule. On the other hand, you will want to setup the right layout. For example, if your schedule is naturally a grid, like one for reserving tennis courts, you would select a grid layout. You will also want to think about which signups to show on your admin and agent/observer pages. For example, for a schedule with lots of signups, New Signups is often a good compromise between knowing what is going on and not overwhelming the forest with the trees.

Unavailable Schedule Items, Calendar Colors, and Break Periods

You manage these terms via Top-level menus->Left MORE->Manage UI Terms and Colors.

Why-Unavailable Terms

User-Created Terms

These terms are used to display why an item is unavailable on signup pages. You do this via the Availability field of Add/Copy/Update Schedule Item. For example, if a tennis club was running a tournament on some Saturday, its admin could give each relevant Saturday court slot an Availability of "Tournament". Note that entering a previously-undefined term in an Availability field creates a term whose value is itself.

On this page, you can:

Built-in Terms

You can replace any of the built-in why-unavailable terms PRESTO uses in a signup schedule (e.g. "Closed"). To do this, enter the built-in term in the left column and what you want to replace it with in the HTML to Display column. To resume using a built-in display string, delete the replacement term you created for it.

Note: if PRESTO uses a different term in the list and grid layouts, you would need to do an Add Term for both if you wished to affect the display of both layouts.

Permanent Assignment of Calendar Colors

When drawing a schedule or report whose layout is Calendar (CC by ...), PRESTO will use the color bindings you have created on this page. (Any color-coded thing not assigned one of these permanent colors will be drawn in a dynamically-chosen color from PRESTO's built-in 16-color palette).

To define a permanent color:

You can also use Bind Current Schedule if the current schedule of the current event is a color-coded calendar. It will do an Add Color for each of the first 16 color-coded things in the schedule still without a color binding. This command assigns colors from the built-in 16-color palette (and whenever possible, not-yet-used ones).

You can of course also edit or delete color bindings you have created.

Color design notes:

Break Periods in a Provider Schedule

You can directly make a chunk of a provider's time unavailable; this is called a break period. The classic case is a lunch period.

A break is shown as red columns in an availability bar, like any other unavailable time chunk. A break is displayed along with regular bookings when you use zoom on an admin signup page. However it is distinguished by the fact that its signup line does not identify a user.

To manipulate a break period, click on its schedule item's time on See/Do Signups or on its Edit icon on Make Signup Schedule:

You can insert the same break into multiple schedule items at once. Select the desire schedule items and a break value like you would for any other Schedule Item property. The same applies for reemoving multiple breaks, but note that you must manually append the X.

Lastly you can select Leftmost MORE menu->Manage UI Terms and Colors and click on a break term. This does NOT affect existing breaks. It only removes this break term from the Breaks dropdown menu.

Add Multiple Related Schedule Items & Signups

Top-level menus->Center MORE->Add Multiple Items & Signups can be used whenever you like, but its focus is the kind of centrally-managed schedule where you signup people while you design your schedule. In particular, it is the easiest way to explode composite tasks into daily tasks (see below).

This command signs up any specified people for all of the indicated schedule items. For example, if you enter 3 dates and 2 people, it does 6 signups.


  1. This command uses Import Signup rules. That is, if you identify a signup already in the database, that signup is skipped (i.e. no error occurs).
  2. Signups done by Add Multiple Items & Signups do not trigger confirmation messages.
  3. If the specified activity has a signup form, it is left empty in each signup. To fill out a form, use a signup's Update Form icon/link (also see the Composite Tasks section below).

Identifying (and creating) Schedule Items

This command works on the schedule items with the specified activity name, time info, and dates. If the activity does not yet exist, it is created. If no times are provided, a Planning Action is created. If a start time is provided, a Background On-site Task is created. If both times are provided, a Main On-site Task is created.

This command also creates any identified schedule items that do not yet exist. When it creates a schedule item, it sets the item's # of spots. If the Spots/Item field is set, it uses that. If not, it uses the number of people being signed up. If both are absent, the new item allows unlimited signups.

The dates are gotten from the Their Dates field. When this field contains a list of dates, any after the 1st can be a single number. If so, its month and year are set from the preceding date on the line (e.g. 4/23+24 is short for 4/23 and 4/24). All the usual PRESTO date formats are allowed. Also if a year is omitted, it is defaulted with respect to the event's start date.

Composite Tasks and Task Summaries

A composite task is a multi-day and/or multi-person task. For example, if you were creating a schedule to refinish a kitchen, you might want to allocate 2 people for 2 days to the Demolish Old Cabinets task.

Choosing to explode composite tasks has two benefits. You can reassign individual person-days when necessary (e.g. illness), and you can now use the Calendar schedule layout to show exactly who is doing what when.

If you want to generate a report about a project's tasks, including its composite tasks, you should:

Merging Schedule Items from Another Event

Leftmost MORE menu->Merge Actual Schedule inserts the schedule of the specified mergeable event into the current schedule. This feature makes it easy to build an event that is a collection of somewhat reusable building blocks. An event is mergeable if it is a regular event or rolling template — and does not have the Out of Date stage or contain more than one actual schedule.

What a Merge Actual Schedule does

It inserts activities, schedule items, and signups into the current schedule. Additionally:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Signups done by Merge Actual Schedule do not trigger confirmation messages.

An Example

Suppose a contractor has a rolling event that describes all the projects he is currently involved with. Suppose also that he has created a template (i.e. mergeable event) for each thing he typically does (e.g. remodel kitchen, finish basement). Finally suppose he included a Location (say Client) in all the activity names in each template, because he wants his overall schedule to clearly indicate the project that each schedule item is part of.

Then whenever he has a new client with a typical set of requirements, he would do one or more Merge Actual Schedule commands. Each time he did a Merge, he would set Adjust Start Date to the actual start date of the client's project. Then afterwards, he would go to Manage Activities, select all activities containing the merged location (i.e. Client), and update it to the name of the actual client.

More on Activity Properties

Creating an Activity with Default Properties

The activity's base name and location are set to what you enter. Its other properties are set as follows:

How Activity Properties Affect the Look of a Schedule Item

Each schedule item on a signup page contains the overall name of the activity, its time info, and a signup button. Someone signs up for an activity in a schedule by clicking on its signup button. You control the signup button's label and the activity's default when-it-is info by what activity type and signup style you specify when you create the activity.

If the when-it-is info of an activity includes a default intro phase, that will be replaced by the activity's actual Intro Phrase if any. However an intro phrase is never included in a grid row or calendar item (simply for lack of room).

Activity Type Default When-It-Is Info Button Label if
Button Label if
Background On-site Task Fmt1:  time1 - time2
Fmt2:  About time1*
Fmt3:  All Day**
Signup for ThisRequest This
Main On-site Tasktime1 - time2Signup for ThisRequest This
Reservationtime1 - time2Reserve ThisRequest This
Planning ActionDue on dateSignup for ThisRequest This
Planning PositionStart by dateSignup for ThisRequest This
ContestEnter by dateSignup for ThisRequest This
ScorecardScore by dateScore this EntryN/A
QuestionnaireFill out by dateGive ResponseN/A
QuestionnaireApply by dateN/AApply for This
*This format generally applies if an end time is not specified
**This format applies if an end time is not specified and start time is 0:1