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This site brings together appropriate content and services from a wide variety of sources to provide a comprehensive resource for planning, building, and managing solutions based on Microsoft business products. This site is designed to meet the needs of MIS directors and managers, systems administrators, and help desk professionals.

Microsoft offers a wide range of developer products and technologies. Whether you are looking for application development technology or specific Internet development product, Microsoft has something for every developer.

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See Also: 
Case Studies


MS Outlook Product Manager 

Key Point: Microsoft Exchange 5.0 and Outlook 97 provide a powerful platform for building, deploying, and managing business solutions.

Detail: Medium

Task: Planning, evaluating

Article Section

What's There

The Challenge of the Internet

How Exchange 5.0 and Outlook 97 can help companies use the Internet to their advantage.

Fast, Easy Application Development

Outlook 32-bit design environment is a robust way to build applications without programming knowledge.

Extending Outlook Application

Use VBA, ActiveX controls, or the Internet Control Pack to extend Outlook’s capabilities.

Centralized Management and Security with the Exchange Server

Exchange Server provides a standard platform for application development and centralized application management.



The Challenge of the Internet



Now more than ever before, corporate users are faced with an overwhelming volume of information. The arrival of the Internet on the corporate desktop has opened new vistas for users, enabling them to extend their reach beyond traditional corporate boundaries. But it has also brought an increased level of complexity to their everyday business lives.

Corporate users today don’t need more information; they need solutions for managing, sharing, and analyzing information. Now, with Microsoft® Outlook™ 97 and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0, users can develop and deploy such solutions quickly and easily using the Microsoft Outlook application design environment—so information becomes useful, rather than unwieldy.
Ironically, the rapid evolution of Internet technology has actually clouded the future of corporate communications. Corporations can no longer afford to take the risk of committing resources to build costly long-term business solutions, only to arrive at a dead-end solution. Plus, as corporations have downsized, IS resources have dwindled, leaving departments and workgroups to develop their own business solutions.
With Microsoft Outlook 97, designers can build industrial-strength applications in days, instead of months, so corporations can get the solutions they need without spending time and money on expensive programming resources. In addition, the Outlook design environment is integrated with Office 97 and Microsoft Exchange Server, so application designers can build and implement solutions using proven, widely accepted technologies with the confidence that these technologies won’t disappear tomorrow.
The benefits of using the Outlook application design environment to build information sharing, groupware, and mail-enabled solutions can be summarized in five key areas:

  • Instant Groupware Using Shared Modules—Outlook ships with built-in Calendar, Task, Journal, and Contacts modules that can be easily customized. When located in a public folder on the Microsoft Exchange Server, these full-featured modules allow workgroups to share calendars, schedules, task lists, or customer contact information across the enterprise, thus creating instant groupware.
  • Fast and Easy Application Development—The Outlook design environment empowers end users because it provides a non-programming environment that enables them to quickly build information-sharing and mail-enabled applications. End users can base their applications on built-in modules, forms, or sample applications in the Outlook box (or supplied separately in the Office Resource Kit or the Microsoft Office Web site). In many cases, designers need only add or remove controls or fields to meet their design needs. Outlook also provides a variety of sample applications, such as Expense Reporting, TimeCard, and HelpDesk that can be implemented as-is or customized to meet the specific needs of a workgroup or organization.
  • Scaleable Application Development—Many groupware applications grow in popularity and require additional functionality as their use becomes more widespread. Outlook provides for this situation by offering a scaleable application development environment. End users can design solutions without programming, while programmers and application designers can add advanced functionality to solutions using Visual Basic® for Applications (only when using Office 97 Document Forms), ActiveX™ controls, or Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript).
  • Centralized Management and Security—As a workgroup client, Outlook runs on the Microsoft Exchange Server, so any applications developed with the Outlook design environment can take full advantage of the central administration, replication, and security features of the Microsoft Exchange Server. For example, a designer can develop an application on his or her computer, and then turn it over to a system administrator who installs it on the Microsoft Exchange Server. Once the application is on the server, the administrator can set access permissions and replication properties for the folder, so the folder is both secure and replicated across the enterprise.
  • Outlook Binds the Internet and Intranet (Extending Outlook Applications)—All companies need to integrate the Internet with their Intranet. Outlook provides the glue that binds the two because it provides Internet messaging capabilities, so schedules, documents, and forms can be mailed over the Internet. Plus it offers groupware capabilities, so these same items can be stored, organized, and shared among members of a workgroup. For example, a user could send a Product Feedback form over the Internet to a customer. When the customer returns the form, it can be automatically routed to a folder on the Microsoft Exchange Server where it can be reviewed by all members of the workgroup.

Extending Outlook Applications



Outlook forms can be extended using VBA, ActiveX controls, or the Internet Control Pack.
Using VBA with Office Forms
Designers can add VBA code to Office documents, then drag the document into an Outlook folder to wrap the document in a form. For example, a designer can create a Mileage Report worksheet in Microsoft Excel that calculates total miles and the reimbursement amount due, then add VBA macros to the worksheet that writes the mileage record to a Microsoft Access or other ODBC-compliant database. Next the designer can drag the worksheet into an Outlook folder to wrap the worksheet in an Outlook form, then add a Cover page for user information and Status page to the Mileage Report form.
At run time, users can open the Mileage Report form from the Organization forms library, fill it out, and submit it to a supervisor for approval. When the supervisor approves the report, VBA code automatically writes the mileage report record to a database.
Using ActiveX Controls for Database Access
In many cases, designers will need to create applications that integrate database information into forms. For example, a designer might want to create a Library Materials Order form that enables users to query the Library Materials database for books or magazine on a particular subject. To accomplish this, the designer can drop an ActiveX control on the form, and then set the properties for the control to perform queries on the SQL Library Materials database.
At run time, when users open the form, they can then use the ActiveX control(s) to query the database. After users have selected the materials they want, they can send the request to the library for processing.
Using the Internet Control Pack with Outlook
With the Internet Control Pack, a set of Internet ActiveX controls allows designers to rapidly integrate Internet functionality into their Outlook applications. For example, a designer can create a research form by placing an HTML ActiveX control on a Mail Message form, thus enabling users to browse the Web from within a form. The designer can then add VBScript to the form to save the Web page address to a form field. At run time, a researcher can open the Mail Message form, browse the Web and save the addresses of the Web pages that are relevant, and then send the Mail Message item to another user. The recipient of the Mail Message item can then view the Web pages by clicking the Web page addresses on the Mail Message form.

Centralized Management and Security with Exchange Server



With the proliferation of application development at the workgroup level, organizations need a standard platform for application development, as well as a way to manage applications centrally. The Microsoft Exchange Server provides this for Outlook applications by offering Internet connectivity, a reliable messaging infrastructure, integrated groupware capabilities, and centralized storage, security, and administrative capabilities. These benefits can be summarized in four features:

  • Central Application Management—The Microsoft Exchange Server provides a public folder object store where folders, forms, and items can be centrally stored for enterprise-wide access. Application designers can make their applications available throughout the company simply by copying a folder to the public folder area on the Exchange server.
  • Microsoft Exchange Server Security—Using the Microsoft Exchange Server Administrator Program, administrators can define who has access to organizational forms and public folders. In addition, either the administrator or the application designer can set permissions on a public folder to define what rights an individual user has on that folder. Also, because Microsoft Exchange Server runs on Windows NT®, corporations get the authentication capabilities of the NT Server, further ensuring that only authorized users have access to a company’s sensitive information.
  • Forms and Folder Replication—Exchange administrators can use the Microsoft Exchange Server replication engine to distribute forms and folders (including calendar, task, and contact folders) throughout the enterprise. The server replication engine manages the distribution of the application and ensures that any changes to forms or folders on one server are automatically reflected on the replicated servers.
  • Offline Use of Applications—Users can run Outlook applications offline while working in remote locations. For example, a sales person can use a Contacts folder offline while travelling to view contact information, and to enter new information. Remote users can use the local replication feature of Microsoft Exchange to synchronize their Favorite Folders with the folders on the Microsoft Exchange Server.




Often in organizations, games applications follow a progressive path from development by a workgroup to widespread acceptance. Developed at the workgroup level to solve a specific problem, many such applications get adopted by other workgroups that add functionality, then implemented enterprise-wide, at which point even more functionality is inserted to meet the broader needs of the organization.
By offering an easy development platform and stable deployment environment, Microsoft Outlook97 and Exchange Server 5.0 enable workgroups to build secure applications that solve fast-changing business needs and can be scaled for use by the larger organization.