Click to access Tracker Office, an Outlook Project Management solution that extends your Team Folders for projects
Your best move to extend Microsoft Team Folders!
Integrates with Microsoft Project!
Tracker also offers solutions for:
Learn how to improve resource pool visibility with Web based applications.
Download Microsoft Team Folders
Lotus Notes project management.
What are Team Folders?
Microsoft® Outlook® 2000 Team Folders for Exchange Server is a new team collaboration tool from Microsoft. This new add-in tool blends the flexibility and collaboration of public folders with the intuitiveness of the Web. Now anyone who needs to create a location for shared information can simply and easily create a Team Folder, select the users who can access the folder, and enjoy the benefits of Web-based Exchange Server collaboration.
You can deliver solutions that meet your customers’ needs and exceed their expectations using Outlook Team Folders. These solutions also provide a great opportunity for you to generate revenue by deploying/upgrading Office 2000 and Microsoft Exchange, configuring Outlook Team Folders, and training your customers. Whether you have no development experience, are an experienced developer or are somewhere in between, you can use Outlook Team Folders to create powerful solutions that enhance your customers’ collaboration and communication. (For more on delivering solutions versus merely selling product, see my article, "Delivering Messaging, Collaboration and Knowledge Management Solutions."
|Depending on the type
of application installed, the Team Folders application can contain one
or all of the following modules:
Team Folders takes advantage of a new feature in Outlook 2000—the folder home page. A folder home page is simply a Web page that’s associated with any Outlook folder. When a user opens a folder with a home page, Outlook displays the home page instead of the usual folder view in the Outlook view pane. Because code on the Web page runs in the context of the Outlook application, the Web page can contain script and ActiveX controls that access Outlook data. These factors make it easy to develop a Web page that integrates access to Outlook items with links to information residing elsewhere on an organization's intranet or even on the Internet. For example, if you create a Digital Dashboard solution for your customer, you use folder home pages to deliver information from multiple sources.
A Team Folder, then, is essentially a set of Microsoft Exchange Server public folders containing Outlook items and having an associated folder home page. The top-level folder contains several subfolders, the number and type of which depends on the type of Team Folder selected by the user in the Team Folders Wizard.
Business Benefit for Customers
Many companies that have Outlook and Exchange Server are not using them to their fullest potential; the power of public folders remains largely untapped. Small companies often don’t employ people with the skills needed to develop solutions using Outlook and public folders. In larger companies, Information Technology (IT) departments may have people with the necessary skills, but the cost of using those people to create collaboration applications for a small group is usually too high to be feasible.
The Team Folder tool was designed with end users in mind. A user, with Owner permissions on the Team Folder, can administer it using a simple, wizard-like Web page. The Owner can add and remove team members, assign access permissions, and manage messages displayed by the Team Folder home page. This permission makes it easy for members of groups to manage their own applications, relieving network administrators from management of collaboration applications used by workgroups and teams throughout the organization.
Perhaps the most important benefit of Team Folders, however, is the way that the tool empowers users to create solutions that fit their needs, rather than having to adapt themselves to more generic applications developed for many different groups with varying needs.
Business Opportunity for VAPs
You may be thinking, “If Team Folders are so easy, why do my customers need me to implement them?” Many of you are the IT department for your customers and do all the administration. Some of you provide higher level design and implementation services while your customer provides the day-to-day administration. There is opportunity for you no matter what type of service model you use. Working with your customers, you can decide whether it’s better for you to create and configure the Team Folders, teach someone at the company how to do it or a combination of the two. There are several ways that you can generate revenue by deploying solutions based on Team Folders:
I particularly like the idea that anyone, even those of us with little or no development skill, can create collaborative applications using Outlook Team Folders. You can immediately generate revenue while you learn, and you can build more elaborate solutions as you learn more about Outlook Team Folders. You’ll find that you can build and personalize templates to use over and over again.
Step-by-Step Basic Team Folder Creation
Creating Outlook Team Folders is easy with the Outlook Team Folder Wizard. To support team folders created by the Team Folders Wizard, you must have Microsoft Exchange Server version 5.0 or later, Public Folders with Owner permissions for the users who will be using Team Folders Wizard and a Server (file, HTTP, or FTP) where users can create folders and files. You can configure the Team Folders Wizard to offer default public folder and Web server locations. This will reduce the chance of users entering an incorrect address.
Download the free Outlook Team Folders Kit to get the Outlook Team Folders Wizard. The kit consists of four components:
After a user creates a Team Folder using one of the Microsoft Outlook 2000 Team Folders Templates, he or she can send a message to team members that tells them about the Team Folder and provides a button they can click to add a shortcut to the Team Folder on their Outlook Bar. To prevent users from receiving a warning about macros in the invitation message, the form this message is based on must be published in the Microsoft Exchange Server Organizational Forms Library. The Team Folders Kit includes a personal folders file (Invite.pst) containing the form and a utility (Vbinvite.exe) that a Microsoft Exchange Server administrator can run to publish the form automatically.
The folder home pages of the Team Folders Templates use two ActiveX controls, the Microsoft Outlook View Control and the Microsoft Outlook Permissions Control. By default, the folder home pages download these controls from the Microsoft Web site (www.microsoft.com). If users don’t have access to the Internet, the folder home pages can be configured to download the controls from a server on the organization's local area network. The Team Folders Kit includes .CAB files containing the controls and utility files (Codebase.bat and Codebase.ini) that you use to specify the location of the source files.
Note: These controls are programmable/customizable using any VB Script editing tool, i.e., text-type editor.
Team Folders Wizard Setup
You must install the Team Folders Wizard and the Team Folders Templates before you create a Team Folder. Team Folders Wizard Setup is a self-contained executable file (Oltfwiz.exe) that you can run from a network share or receive as an e-mail attachment.
The Team Folders Kit contains programmer's reference files for the View Control (Ovctl.chm) and the Permissions Control (Oltfacl.chm), located in the Docs folder. There is also a Readme file in the installation folder containing information that developed too late to be included in this guide.
Before deploying the Team Folders Wizard, you may want to provide the default addresses of the Public Folders and Web Server folder locations. This step will help prevent users from specifying invalid paths for these locations. Set these default paths in the wizard by setting entries in the registry.