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Outlook Tips and Techniques - 01 Jul 1999


What's the best way to handle appointments in a public Calendar folder when the people adding the appointments are in more than one time zone?

When you create an appointment, Outlook stores Start and End times based on your local time. When people in other time zones open the item, the appointment times that they see are offset by the difference between their time zone and your time zone. For example, I work in Moscow, which is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 8 hours ahead of Eastern time. If I put an appointment on a public calendar for noon my local time, someone in New York sees the appointment with a Start time of 4:00 a.m.

If you need to keep track of time at your company's headquarters and at your office, add a second time zone to your Outlook Calendar display. Choose Tools, Options (in Outlook 98, you then choose Calendar Options), select Time Zone, and fill in the details that Screen 1 shows. After you click OK to save the time zone changes, two time strips appear in the Calendar, one for each time zone, as Screen 2 shows.

The biggest problem for companies that span multiple time zones is all-day events, because of the way Outlook stores the data for these events. Outlook not only sets the AllDayEvent field to True but also adds Start and End dates for the item and sets the time component to midnight. For example, January 1 is a holiday everywhere, and if you put it in the company Calendar folder as an all-day event, the people in your time zone will see it run from 1 Jan 2000 12:00 a.m. to 2 Jan 2000 12:00 a.m. However, someone in a time zone 8 hours to the east won't see it as an all-day event but as a meeting that lasts from 1 Jan 2000 8:00 a.m. to 2 Jan 2000 8:00 a.m. I know of no solution for this problem; Outlook and Exchange Server don't have a setting to always show all-day events as midnight to midnight local time.

Why do some of my Outlook 98 systems have different version numbers on the Help, About screen?

Depending on whether Microsoft has applied any patches to Outlook, you see one of these three version numbers:

  • 8.5.5104.6—Original Outlook 98, including the version from Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • 8.5.5603.0—Outlook 98 with the updated security patch downloaded from Microsoft
  • 8.5.6204.0—Outlook 98 with the Auto Archive Patch downloaded from Microsoft

The Auto Archive Patch changes the way Outlook transfers data to the archive to prevent data from being lost if your computer fails or the power goes out during the transfer. Both the archive patch and the security patch update the outllib.dll file, which Outlook uses to display the version number.

If your Outlook version number shows up as 8.5.6204.0, you know only that the Auto Archive Patch is on your copy of Outlook. This version number tells you nothing about whether the updated security patch has been installed.

The archive patch and the security patch both update outllib.dll. Each patch also updates various other files. If you don't remember whether you installed the security patch before you installed the archive patch, you might want to download the security patch and install it anyway. If you install the security patch after the archive patch, just make sure that you respond No when the setup program asks whether you want to replace the system's current version of outllib.dll with an older version. Installing the Field Mapping Patch doesn't affect the version number. For details about version numbers for earlier Outlook and Exchange clients, see

How can I use Folder Assistant rules to create the equivalent of a moderated folder that keeps the Post Reply key?

The April 1999 question about moderated folders got me thinking about how to use Folder Assistant rules to create the equivalent of a moderated folder that preserves the Post Reply button. You'll recall from last month's column that moderated items have only a menu item—not a toolbar button—for the Post Reply command, because moderated items are really forwarded items that use the Message form, not the Post form.

Duplicating the moderated folder functions with Folder Assistant rules turned out to be more complicated than I expected. Even when I set the forward action to Leave message intact, the rule turned my Post forms into Message forms.

I can easily create a rule that sends to a holding folder all items except those folders that moderators post directly. What's difficult is creating a rule that lets the moderators move those items, unchanged, back into the main folder. I've concluded that it would take a custom form with an Approved field on a custom page's Read layout to let you construct a rule to make this moderator action possible. Such a rule would need one condition (i.e., the Approved field equals True) and one action (i.e., Do not process subsequent rules). This rule would need to be the first rule in the Folder Assistant list, so the other rule doesn't fire on the items from the holding folder.

I hate to provide such disappointing news, but perhaps my experiments with moderated folders will inspire you to try some other approaches. I think the next step is to try an Event Service script on the folder.

How can I make the File As field in Outlook Contacts store the item as Last Name, First Name (Company)? (revisited)

After reading in the March 1999 issue how to set the FileAs property value in code, reader Richard Dayton dug deeper and found that the File As field is more complex than is first apparent. Specifically, the field stores the information in one format but displays it in any of three formats, depending on the context. You can observe this behavior by creating a contact with a Full Name of First Last and a Company name of Company. For the File as name, choose Last, First (Company), then save the item.

Here's where the fun begins. You specified the FileAs value as Last, First (Company), but the only place you'll see it in that format is on the General page of the open Contact item. Switch to the All Fields page, and choose Frequently-used fields from the Select from list. For the File As field, you see Last, First, Company—the data you specified, but formatted with a comma between the name and company name rather than parentheses setting off the company name.

Now look at the same item in the Outlook viewer, first in the Phone List view, then in the Address Cards view. In the Phone List view, the File As field again appears as Last, First, Company as it did on the All Fields page of the open item. However, on the Address Cards view, you see Last, First on one line, then Company on the second line, both in bold.

To find out what's happening, I spent a little time behind the scenes in Outlook 2000 Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which lets you work with an item selected in a view. I found that when you choose either the Last, First (Company) format or the Company (Last, First) format, Outlook doesn't put parentheses or a comma between the name and company. Instead, it inserts a carriage return and line feed and stores the data that way. Apparently, a hidden mechanism inside Outlook controls how the data appears in the different views and on the form.

Armed with that new information, I tried using the code in Listing 1 to update an Outlook item's FileAs property when I saved the item. The property LastNameAndFirstName is equivalent to Item.LastName & " , " & Item.FirstName, but the shorter version saves you time and space in your code. (I suspect that Outlook also uses this property to construct the choices on the File As drop-down list.)

The constant vbCrLf is intrinsic to the version of VBScript that you use with Outlook 98 form code. The constant inserts a carriage return, followed by a line feed. If you use Outlook 97 with Internet Explorer (IE) 3.0 (not IE 4.0 or 5.0), add the following line to the beginning of the Item_Write function to set the value of a vbCrLf variable:

vbCrLf = Chr(13) & Chr(10)

This technique for controlling the FileAs property's value is effective about 75 percent of the time. Adding the code lets you see the File As field formatted in different situations just as if you set it manually from the File As drop-down list. In the Address Cards and Phone List view and on the All Fields tab of an open item, the File As field looks as I described it previously, with either a carriage return/line feed or a comma to separate the name and company. However, the technique falls short in the open item itself. Instead of seeing Last, First (Company,) you see Last, First Company with no parentheses setting off the company name.

Still, 75 percent effectiveness might be good enough for your application. I'll continue to look for a workaround to bring this coded version of the File As field up to 100 percent effectiveness.

Can you make reminders pop up for Contact items that you've flagged in a public folder?

Outlook 98 introduced the flag feature for contacts and mail messages, but the basic rule about these reminders and those for tasks and appointments hasn't changed: Outlook reminds you only about items that you store in your mailbox's default folders, including Inbox, Sent Items, Contacts, Calendar, and Tasks. In other folders, an overdue flagged item simply turns red; therefore, you won't get pop-up reminders for flagged contacts in a public folder.

How do you make a Calendar public folder accessible from the Internet so Internet users can schedule a resource?

The answer depends on whether the Internet users are accessing Exchange Server through Outlook Web Access (OWA), a POP3/SMTP client, an Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) client, or Outlook with a profile using the Exchange Server service. First, you need to understand that booking a resource in a public folder means creating a new appointment item in the folder for each booking. Only an Outlook user with a profile that includes the Exchange Server service can make a booking directly. OWA doesn't support the rendering of public Calendar folders; it supports only the default Calendar folder in your individual mailbox. Also, public Calendar folders can't publish free/busy information—an important limitation that usually means that a mailbox is a better place than Public Folders to create a resource folder.

Still, you can make a resource Calendar in Public Folders work if you intervene manually. Although OWA, POP3, and IMAP clients can't book the resource directly, they can send email messages to the resource folder.

How does an incoming email message turn into an appointment in a resource calendar? Rather than write a complex Exchange Server Event Service script to parse information in the body of a message, you can add a Folder Assistant rule to the public Calendar folder. You set up Outlook Folder Assistant rules on the Administration tab of the folder's Properties sheet. Screen 3, page 7, shows an example. The rule looks for items that someone has sent via email to the folder rather than posted directly and forwards them to a second folder for review, deleting the original message from the Calendar folder. This rule doesn't touch any items that users directly post in the Calendar.

From the reviewing folder, you can turn an incoming message into a booking in the public Calendar folder by following these steps:

  1. Drag the incoming item from the review folder to the resource's Calendar folder. In the appointment item that pops up, Outlook copies the subject and description from the incoming email message, along with details about who sent the request and when.
  2. Set the Start and End time and other details for the appointment.
  3. Click Save, then Close to save the item to the resource Calendar folder.
  4. Delete the item from the review folder.

Caution: If people send meeting requests to the Calendar folder, don't open the requests and then click the Accept button. Accepting the meeting request puts it in your personal mailbox's Calendar folder, removing it from the resource's folder. Instead, move the request to the resource's Calendar folder, as I just described.

To determine the email address for the folder, look up the SMTP address in the Exchange Administrator program on the folder's Properties page and send that address to the users of Outlook and other Internet mail software. For the convenience of OWA users, also consider making the folder's address available in the Global Address List (GAL); Outlook hides public folder addresses from the GAL by default, but you can change that setting on the folder's Properties sheet in the Exchange Administrator program.

Can I have a distribution list (DL) that only my boss and I can see, maintain, and send to?

You can grant users the rights to maintain a DL in the GAL, but the list must be visible for them to be able to open and maintain it. If you need a DL that's completely private, consider creating a Contacts folder in Public Folders. Grant appropriate permissions to allow access only to the few users who need to know about it. When you're ready to send a message to the DL, follow these steps:

  1. In the DL's folder, choose Edit, Select All.
  2. Drag the selected items to the Inbox, or choose Actions (in Outlook 97, choose Compose), New Message to Contact.
  3. This action creates a new email message with all the contact addresses in the To box. If you want them to be in the Bcc box instead, choose View, Bcc Field. Then, select the addresses in the To box, and copy them to the Bcc box.

You can create as many DLs as you need with this method. Just use a different folder for each DL. In Outlook 2000, this task is even easier, because you can create DLs directly in any Contacts folder.

In following your instructions from the January 1999 article about implementing a group mailbox, I couldn't change the properties of the From and Bcc fields. When I opened the form in design mode, those fields weren't visible. What can I do?

Usually, whatever is visible on an Outlook form also appears when you work with it in design mode. The situation you describe is the exception. When you open a message form in design mode, the From and Bcc fields disappear, even if you had them on the original form, which you opened in the usual way. You need to add the From and Bcc fields to the Message page by dragging them from the Field Chooser. Look for them under the Address fields list.

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