Extending Outlook applications into Exchange


For smaller offices or departments, Outlook forms can act as a CRM or task management system in the absence of a formal system. However, what happens when your forms + filing system gets popular and needs to scale beyond your cubes?

Data entered in Outlook forms is automatically replicated to Exchange and the data is stored in the Item.ExtendedProperties. This means that the data is automatically stored, replicated and distributed for free from Outlook. This is a huge benefit that basically generates a data layer for you. But how do we take advantage of this from applications other than Outlook? Check out the Exchange Web Services Managed API. This API provides a wrapper around the Exchange Web Services that makes it easy to connect to Exchange without wading into the world of angle brackets. There is great example code on the MSDN forums. If you are using Outlook forms to collect data, the important “magic string” to know is DefaultExtendedPropertySet.PublicStrings. If you use Outlook form designer to collect the data and have no-code publishing to Exchange, then the properties are written to the aforementioned PropertySet.