Reader to Reader - 01 May 1998

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The Emergency Alert Services Committee for Spokane County, Washington, requested a list server to communicate messages to all the committee members. When I looked for list server software, I found mostly full-blown packages that maintained databases and needed large systems to support them. Neither I nor the committee wanted a system that extensive.

I wanted a simpler, less expensive way to accomplish our goal. Spokane County uses Microsoft Exchange 5.0, which supports distribution lists. I'd been creating and managing global distribution lists for some time, and I knew that a message sent to one of these lists went to every member of the group. If you're not afraid to manage a few addresses and a distribution list, you can make a list server within Exchange without additional software. This solution presumes that you have Internet Mail Server (IMS) installed on your Exchange Server.

From Exchange Administrator, create a new distribution list by going to File, New Distribution List. Make sure you note the distribution list's Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) address (on the E-Mail Address tab), because you need to provide this address to the users. Then, add the users to the distribution list by creating the addresses or selecting them from your global address book.

Here is the really slick part: The addresses don't have to be stations on your Exchange Server system. From Exchange Administrator, create a custom recipient (a recipient on a foreign system), and choose Internet Address from the list in the Select the entry type box. Then fill in the appropriate information and add this address to your distribution list. Now you can send messages to people not physically a part of your mail system.

You can hide these addresses from the Global Address List. On the Advanced tab of the Distribution List Properties page, check Hide from address book, and your regular users won't know the distribution list exists. You can hide the custom recipients when you create them by checking Hide from address book on the Advanced tab.

Now you have a list server that cost you only a few moments to create. Users send messages to the address of the distribution list, and Exchange distributes the message to all the list's members.

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