Reader to Reader - 01 Oct 1998

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In Exchange 5.5, Microsoft introduced a new feature, Scripting Agent, which will make life easier for administrators and end users. The Scripting Agent is an event-driven service that lets the Exchange server process items according to rules that you set through scripts. The tool's versatility is boundless, but my company is using a script for automatically processing meeting requests. (For an explanation of using Outlook to schedule resources, see Sue Mosher, "Outlook Tips and Techniques," May 1998.) To install the scripts, you need at least one station running Microsoft Outlook 8.03 (which is included with Exchange 5.5).

A user creates a new meeting request with the Outlook client and adds the appropriate conference room to the list of invitees. When the client sends the meeting request, it posts the request to the conference room's inbox. The act of posting the message sets off the script. Certain conditions in the script's code determine whether the conference room is available. The conference room will accept or decline the meeting depending on the conditions set in the script. Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q184271 ( articles/q184/2/71.asp) provides a sample script, Autoaccept.txt, for automatically handling meeting requests.

To install the Scripting Agent so you can install and test the sample script, see the instructions in Knowledge Base article Q178351 ( articles/q178/3/51.asp). Microsoft's sample script processes meeting requests only if they request a 30-minute time slot. This limitation wasn't acceptable to us, so we edited the script. You can find our modified script at

Our edited script has these limitations:

  1. The script lets you schedule meetings only in 30-minute increments. This limitation usually isn't a problem, because Outlook defaults to 30-minute intervals when scheduling a meeting. If a user manually changes the time interval to other than 30-minute increments (e.g., 2 hours, 45 minutes), the script will decline the meeting.
  2. The script will process meetings with a duration of between 30 minutes and 10 hours duration. The script will decline any meetings greater than or less than this limit.

If you are upgrading an existing Exchange Server 4.0 or 5.0 installation, the Event Service (which contains the Scripting Agent) is not part of the default upgrade. When I upgraded, the program didn't let customize the components to be installed. I had to run Exchange setup again, select the Add/Remove option, and select the Event Service. When you've installed the Event Service, the Scripting Agent will appear in your installation of Outlook 8.03.

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