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Integrating Exchange Server 2003 with SharePoint Products and Technologies

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Published: June 9, 2004

This is a sample chapter from the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Resource Kit. You can obtain the complete resource kit (ISBN 0-7356-1881-X), which includes a companion CD-ROM, from Microsoft Press.

Although Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies do not require any particular mail server, the tightest integration is available with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. Web Parts distributed with Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 can display a user’s Inbox folder, Tasks folder, a list of upcoming appointments from the Calendar folder, or the contents of any other mailbox folder. An alternative technique is to use the Page Viewer Web Part to display any Exchange folder using the folder’s Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access URL. Another approach available for Exchange 2003—and Exchange 2000 as well—is the automatic transfer of attachment files from an Exchange public folder into a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services document library. Exchange content, of course, can also be included in SharePoint Portal Server indexes, as discussed in Chapter 22, “Managing External Content in Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003.”

On This Page

Using the Exchange Web Parts
Displaying Exchange Data in a Page Viewer Web Part
Creating an E-Mail-Enabled Document Library
Summary

Using the Exchange Web Parts

SharePoint Portal Server 2003 ships with four Web Parts that can display data from an Exchange 2003 mailbox, listed in Table 41-1. All four Exchange Web Parts are included in the default Web Part gallery, categorized as Personal Web Parts, because they allow users to connect to their own personal Exchange mailboxes.

Table 41-1. Exchange 2003 Web Parts

Name

Description

Web Part Definition File

My Calendar

Displays the Calendar folder from an Exchange 2003 mailbox

Owacalendar.dwp

My Inbox

Displays the Inbox folder from an Exchange 2003 mailbox

Owainbox.dwp

My Mail Folder

Displays any Exchange 2003 mailbox folder; enter the folder path in the format My Folder/My Subfolder

Owa.dwp

My Tasks

Displays the Tasks folder from an Exchange 2003 mailbox

Owatasks.dwp

The My Calendar Web Part, shown in Figure 41-1, appears in the Private view of the default My Site page and lists events and appointments from the user’s Calendar folder in a format similar to one the user would see in the Outlook Today display in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003. Users can add the other Web Parts to the My Site page or to other personal site pages by clicking the Modify My Page link.

Cc767103.f41xr01(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure 41-1.  My Calendar Web Part displays appointments and events in a format similar to the Outlook Today page in Outlook 2003, regardless of the browser in use

Configuring the Exchange Web Parts

To display mailbox data, the user needs to configure each Exchange Web Part with the correct mail server URL, mailbox, and, for the My Mail Folder Web Part, the Exchange folder name. To configure any of these Web Parts, click the open the tool pane link in the Web Part and enter the information requested at the top of the tool pane, as shown in Figure 41-2.

Figure 41-2. The My Mail Folder Web Part

Figure 41-2. The My Mail Folder Web Part

Specify the server address in the Mail server address box; this address will generally be http://servername/exchange and is the same URL that the user would employ to access the mailbox from a browser using Outlook Web Access (OWA), the browser interface for Exchange. The Mailbox name is normally the same as the user’s Windows login name. No additional information is required for the My Inbox Web Part.

For the My Mail Folder Web Part, however, the user must specify the Exchange folder name. If the desired folder is on the same level of the mailbox folder hierarchy as the Inbox, the name of the folder is sufficient. If the desired folder is a subfolder, the user must enter the path to the folder in the format My Folder/My Subfolder.

Cc767103.note(en-us,TechNet.10).gif  The My Calendar and My Tasks Web Parts, like the My Mail Folder Web Part, have an option for an Exchange folder name. In fact, if you specify a folder path other than the default (calendar or tasks, respectively), either of those Web Parts will operate just like the My Mail Folder Web Part, displaying the desired mailbox folder. The reverse is also true: If you set the My Mail Folder Web Part to display a calendar or tasks folder, the items display in the same format that the My Calendar Web Part or My Tasks Web Part would use. In other words, the My Mail Folder Web Part is not limited to use just with mail folders.

Understanding the Two OWA Modes

For the My Inbox, My Tasks, and My Mailbox Folder Web Parts, how the Web Part displays the folder depends on the user’s browser. Users of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later will see the same layout as for the “premium” version of Outlook Web Access, which closely resembles the Outlook 2003 interface. The My Inbox control, for example, uses the Two-Line View display, which includes a column for setting the colored message flag. As shown in Figure 41-3, this display looks good in any Web Part zone.

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Figure 41-3. My Inbox Web Part displays messages in a two-line view, like the default view in Outlook 2003

Users of other browsers will see the “basic” OWA layout, shown in Figure 41-4. Notice how the view does not resize its columns to fit entirely within a narrow zone. Therefore, users using a browser other than Internet Explorer 5.0 or later should be encouraged to use the My Inbox, My Tasks, and My Mailbox Folder Web Parts only in the Top or Bottom Web Part zones.

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Figure 41-4. Other browsers, such as Mozilla 1.5 shown here, use a “basic” display

Displaying Exchange Data in a Page Viewer Web Part

The Exchange Web Parts are designed to show content from the user’s Exchange mailbox. They cannot show content from Exchange public folders. To display public folder content, you can use the Page Viewer Web Part to display any Outlook Web Access page using the URL for that page. For example, the URL to display a month view of a top-level public folder named Company Meetings would be:

http:// servername /public/company%20meetings/?cmd=contents&view=monthly

Note that %20 replaces the space character in the folder name. The cmd=contents parameter specifies that only the contents of the folder should be displayed, not the folder navigation pane as well. The view=monthly parameter specifies that the complete current month should be displayed. Other possible values for the view parameter would be weekly or daily or the name of an existing saved view. The monthly, weekly, and daily values are case sensitive.

Cc767103.tip(en-us,TechNet.10).gif  Because of the width of the day, week, and month calendar view layouts, the wider Top and Bottom zones are probably the most suitable for displaying a calendar folder with the Page Viewer Web Part. However, using the default setting in which the Web Part adjusts its height to fit the zone might obscure the links at the top of the folder; these links allow the user to switch between the day, week, and month views. Instead, experiment with a fixed height to display those controls, as well as the link to create a new appointment.

Tracking messages sent to a distribution list, such as a company announcements list, is one practical example of using the Page Viewer Web Part with an Exchange folder. Public folders can have e-mail addresses. If you include a public folder among the members of a distribution list, all the messages sent to that list will appear in the folder and, in turn, can appear in a Page Viewer Web Part.

Another application would be to display Exchange mailbox data using OWA URLs for versions of Exchange earlier than Exchange 2003. (The Exchange Web Parts that ship with SharePoint Portal Server 2003 work only with Exchange 2003.)

Creating an E-Mail-Enabled Document Library

Windows SharePoint Services supports the concept of an e-mail-enabled document library, a document library linked with an Exchange 2000 or 2003 public folder so that files attached to messages in that public folder are automatically copied to a SharePoint library. Because Exchange public folders can be set up to allow e-mail submissions, this provides a mechanism for both internal and external users to submit documents to the SharePoint library without connecting to the document library site itself or even having permissions to add documents to it.

This feature uses the SharePoint Timer service, which periodically checks the public folder for new documents and copies them to the document library, creating a document for each attachment and generating a unique file name by adding numbers to the end of the file name if necessary. The service does not update, overwrite, or delete existing documents in the document library and sets only minimal field values for the document—the From address from the message, the subject line, and the date and the time the document was inserted in the document library. Any additional fields are left empty, even if they are required fields.

Setting up an e-mail-enabled document library requires configuration changes on the server running SharePoint Portal Server at the virtual server level, plus changes to the document library settings and the Exchange public folder settings.

Configuring the Exchange Public Folder

The Exchange administrator can create, mail-enable, and set permissions for a public folder using the Exchange System Manager tool using the following steps:

  1. Expand the Administrative Groups hierarchy and the appropriate administrative group hierarchy to see the Folders hierarchy. Expand Public Folders to see the folder hierarchy.

  2. Right-click the folder where you want to create a new public folder. Click New, and then click Public Folder. Give the folder a name, and then click OK.

  3. In the folder hierarchy, right-click the folder, click All Tasks, and then click Mail Enable. Exchange creates SMTP and X.400 addresses from the folder name.

  4. To manage permissions on the folder, right-click the folder and then click Properties. On the Permissions tab, click Client permissions. Add the Windows SharePoint Services application pool account(s) to the list of folder users with the Reviewer role or Read items permission. Alternatively, grant the Anonymous user the Read items permission. If you want non-authenticated users to be able to submit items to the public folder and thus to the document library, the Anonymous user also needs Create items permission. To manage which users can post to the folder, add the appropriate security group(s) as folder users with at least the Contributor role.

    Cc767103.tip(en-us,TechNet.10).gif  To change the e-mail address for a public folder, right-click the folder in the Exchange System Manager hierarchy and then click Properties. You can edit or add addresses on the E-mail Addresses tab.

Configuring Windows SharePoint Services

The first step toward enabling this feature is to configure the Windows SharePoint Services virtual server that hosts the document libraries you want to e-mail-enable. You must be a local server administrator or a member of the SharePoint administrators group to follow these steps.

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click SharePoint Central Administration.

  2. In the Portal Site and Virtual Server Configuration section, click Configure virtual server settings.

  3. On the Virtual Server List page, click the link for the virtual server you want to configure.

  4. On the Virtual Server Settings page, in the Virtual Server Management section, click Virtual server general settings.

  5. In the E-Mail Enabled Document Libraries section (shown in Figure 41-5), under Document libraries on this virtual server can accept e-mail attachments, click Yes.

  6. In the Public folder server and root path box, type the path to the public folder server, usually http://servername/public.

  7. Under Check for new e-mail in the public folder, specify when public folders will be checked for attachments.

  8. Click OK.

    Cc767103.f41xr05(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 41-5. Configure a Windows SharePoint Services virtual server to monitor Exchange public folders for file attachments to be copied to document libraries

The default interval is hourly, at a random time during the hour. Using a random time means that each server running SharePoint Portal Server can check the Exchange public folders server at a different time during the hour, rather than all servers checking the public folders server at the same time.

Cc767103.tip(en-us,TechNet.10).gif  When you plan your SharePoint libraries, you should keep in mind that each SharePoint Portal Server virtual server can be linked to only one Exchange public folder server. If some document libraries need to be linked to folders on a different Exchange server, they will need to be in a different SharePoint virtual server.

Once e-mail-enabled document libraries have been enabled at the virtual server level, any SharePoint Portal Server administrator or any user with the Manage Lists Permissions right can link a document library with a public folder. To set up the link, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the document library.

  2. In the Actions list, click Modify settings and columns.

  3. On the Customize document library name page, in the General Settings section, click Change advanced settings.

  4. On the Document Library Advanced Settings (shown in Figure 41-6): Library name page, in the E-Mail Settings section, in the Public folder address box, type the path to the Exchange public folder you want to link to, such as http: //servername/public/myfolder/mysubfolder.

  5. Click OK.

    Cc767103.f41xr06(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

    Figure 41-6. Configure an e-mail-enabled document library with a link to an Exchange public folder

Summary

With e-mail-enabled public folders, users can add documents to a SharePoint list as easily as they can send an e-mail message. At the same time, various Web Parts make it possible to view Exchange server folders in My Site or any other Web Part Page.

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