Much needed feature in Outlook

lotusnotesoutlook.pngFinally got around to posting another article on the blog. Real Life has been a bit hectic lately and really hadn’t the luxury of playing with anything new. The biggest news is that I finally got a normal-show-up-everyday-type job. No more selling my ideas or convincing people they are just doing it wrong … wait, scratch that, I still do those things. Just now, it takes longer to convince people.

Of course, new job, new tools. Or in this case old tools. The email platform of choice for this company is Exchange with Outlook 2003 clients. Yup, Outlook 2003 … a product that I thought most corporations had delegated to the binary bit bin years ago. Now, I’m not too much of a prude, but when you’ve been using the best of open source or Lotus Notes v8 (or even v7 or v6), Outlook 2003 seems to be a bit dated. Well, time to make do. I mean, we are only talking about email here. Nothing earth shattering. I used to use Outlook Express for years when I had Windows machines in the house – so I’m not a complete stranger.

However, Outlook is missing one feature that just absolutely kills me. That is the ability to choose to file an email that was just sent into a folder. Lotus Notes had this feature and for me it’s absolute must-have. Its great to be able to go into any project folder and see both the email you’ve received and sent – without have to search for it, go to a Sent folder, etc.

I know, I know … you can use a rule for this. If I had a dollar for every time I read that solution…. Here are two reasons why rules don’t work – you need to set the rule up before you send the email and in order for the rule to work, you have to trigger on something that is common in all the emails. ugh.

Now there is another feature of Outlook that will allows the program to display all replies to message in the same folder as the message itself – except for the Inbox. This is close, but not quite what I’m looking for.

Fortunately, a recent project at work had me look into programming extensibility of Outlook. I was quite relieve to see that the entire program is extremely extensible. In my research, I discovered a number of resources that were very valuable, but the primary resource I’ve started using was Sue Mosher’s site http://www.outlookcode.com. The site has a lot of great information on how to make Outlook much better. I even started reading her Outlook 2007 book on O’Reilly’s Safari Online site.

Here is the article that help brings the Louts Notes’ functionality of sending and then prompting the user for a folder to save the email into. Overall, the code works and does the job. However, due to the way Outlook fires off events, the dialog box isn’t shown to you till after the email is gone from the screen. I’m sure that this could be changed by simply putting the code in a different event … maybe that’s some experimentation I’ll take on.

In addition, the company I’m at uses a 3rd party form for resource scheduling, thus whenever the code executes on a meeting invite, it gives me a nice controlled error message. Again something I can probably modified once I get a free minute or two.

-JT

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