Outlook Appointments from MV

I have code that updates the Outlook Calendar from MV apps. I decided to hook it up with DesignBais. This is just too cool.

I won’t bother to write too much on this. The images tell the story. I had to scrunch up the images to fit on this page. Click the links to launch the images into a separate page.

This first image shows a DesignBais form in development. Test mode is turned on so I can see how it works. Note the text and selections. From creating the server-side file and dict / field references, to creating the DesignBais form and supporting code, only a couple hours was spent on this and most of that was in some trivial fine tuning.

Appointment entry in DesignBais development environment

On clicking submit, before my eyes the Outlook calendar is updated.

Outlook calendar shows new appointment

Opening the appointment we see the same data entered in the form.

Outlook appointment from the browser

So How Cool is that?!

I wrote the code to update the Outlook calendar for a client who needs to create appointments in Exchange Server from an app based on Universe. The connectivity pipe to do that is mv.NET. I didn’t have to write any code at all for the server, it’s all in .NET. So with no code changes at all, I use this code with D3, QM, jBASE, and other environments. My client has Exchange Server and shared calendars, I use a local PST file. The code handles all of these.

Their user interface is actually an ASP.NET website that we’re building for their sales team. I just did the DesignBais front-end because it was fast and easy. The UI to gather data doesn’t matter – once the data is put into the MV environment it immediately gets pulled into the calendar. To extrapolate a little, this doesn’t just pull calendar entries into Outlook. We can pull SQL queries into Oracle, MySQL, or SQL Server, we can make requests of Web Services, we can get the MV application to do all sorts of things. Stay tuned. You’ll be seeing more of this sort of thing in coming months.

Please contact Nebula R&D for custom development which integrates MV DBMS business applications with Outlook. Other examples include:

  • Sync of Outlook Contacts with the DBMS
  • Update LastContactDate in customer records when Sales or Support get emails
  • Updating Journals with current OnHand data, and pricing
  • Creating Tasks for field people to follow-up on orders or invoices
  • … you tell me …


9 thoughts on “Outlook Appointments from MV

  1. Dear Tony;
    I have been trying to get hold of you through rainingdata discusion forums. Is this a better way to get hold of your esteemdness?. Does this go anywhere except you?. I’ve never tried blogging before I hope I’m not likely to do too much damage, this isn’t politics is it?.
    I stand by my previuos comments, reminding and time and purhaps even where abouts are all clearly part of the calendar app but you are trying to link it to procesess that go way beyond that and you are trying to do it with a (i suppose) free form field called “body” that might work going into your callendar but hows it going to work going out?. I sincerly hope you are not intending to make the users learn SQL or anything such.
    I’m not just sitting here criticising. I have made it MY bussiness to intepret text. not as free form text, but as “well formed english sentences” and at this stage I’m going to be quite happy leaving the ATON clauses and concentrating on empowering the verbs (with my cute little AI langauge).
    You obviously have the power to add to information in outlook and link variuos record types together. But it is my prediction that rather than linking easily to legacy apps , you will have to end up replacing your body field with a series of forms each sepecifically designed for each type of diary entry sent backwards and forwards to the legacy system. Of course this will be nice linked to outlook (i hope you can pop them up) (at five minutes per screen) but really it has to do with mobilising a client
    and outlook is not providing a short cut to this functionality although it may be providing a nice extra.
    In short your esteemdness you either replace your body field with a series of very specific customised forms or you do it my way a series of highly specific customised verbs and equivical grammar.
    And just as I would never dream of trying to do what you have accoumplised, I suggest you don’t try mine (and unfortunately mine is just at really experimental).

  2. I’m not quite sure how to respond to that except to say I’m just showing people what is possible. Data entered into a web page can go anywhere, including an MV DBMS. And MV applications can push and pull data from anywhere, including MS Outlook.

    I don’t know what you mean by using a "body" and I’m not at all familiar with your text-based approaches, sorry. I use the Office/Outlook object model. The code I’m demonstrating is standard and supportable and I wouldn’t feel comfortable advocating anything else.

  3. tony;
    In order to make use of information in a computer it must be corectly assigned to a attribute and therefore a field must be presented to the user in some FORM. which must be predefined This is not the case it a free form text field (BODY in “the first image”) Ok.
    Its not whether or not you can send the information back and forth, its whether or not you have access to that information in the first place.Ok.
    To much of the functionality of your diary is in forms to make it worth adding an NLI except as an alternative access method.
    In Short if you link the verb reminder to a diary entry using a suitable sentence, then thats what it will do when whatever occurs.

  4. So what I have been trying to say is not that you can’t move the information but that to achieve what needs to be done , you must first capture the information in attribute/value pairs and there are so many different kinds of these that the “user/dp manager/programer/gui” methodology simply would not cope ,my best example is;
    “”nurses in a hospital” constantly initiating new tasks many and various, each with multiple sub tasks , some involving other people , and nearly always multitasked”.
    To cope with this the diary (which is where this stuff belongs) would need user defineable goal trees (because there are so many of them) with associated user defineable forms and more.

  5. I appreciate your comments but I’d like to finalize this particular discussion. My clients ask me for solutions and I am confident that I can implement any solution requested for Microsoft Outlook, including providing data inquiries and updates from a website, character interface, or portable device. This blog entry was to show what’s possible and I’ve made my point – it already works. I’m sure you have your own ideas about how to implement this but I have already done it (for many years now) using standard tools and no further investigation or rhetoric is required from my perspective.

    I need to be more judicious about how much text I allow in these comments, please don’t be offended if I start to abbreviate or reject your contributions.

    Thank you kindly.

  6. I am only to pleased to see the end of this discusion. I have been doing my best to abreviate my recent bloggs and they have had little or nothing with my own work , except I that I am busy implementing similar for something else.
    Frankly , I thought I was offering helpful advice.
    Abreviations and modifications are not aceptable , please remove my code (DvRa) from your site.

  7. I have no code that belongs to you. If you’re talking about your user login then just don’t use it anymore. Please email anything else that’s not related to specific postings. Off-topic comments will be deleted without further notice. Thanks.

  8. Tony,
    No mention on Outlook / Exchange versions that your example has had success with. I have recently hit the issues of increased security with Outlook 2003 vs. 2000 when our department began getting "new" PCs. We still have Win2000 with Office 2000 but our clients have XP with Office 2003.
    I am keen to use this type of functionality with government staff booking pool vehicles from a DesignBais GUI back to a Universe MV database on Sun box.
    Your other tools MV.net and NebulaXlite / NebulaXchange have got my interest in these areas as we may be forced to link with a Microsoft Content management system.  We have not previously linked directly to the MV environment apart from flat file exports.

  9. Tassie, thanks for the comments. I started working with the Outlook object model with Outlook 2002 / XP. Doing anything significant with Outlook development really requires 2003, and 2007 has exceptional features for development. As of v2007, Outlook and the other MS Office applications are now real first class citizens in the toolkit. So I would prefer to use 2007 for Office development but 2003 is a fine place to start.

    I believe the client mentioned in this blog has Exchange Server 2000. I could be wrong. I don’t use Exchange so for me every task requires a bit of research, and may result in a "better to upgrade" conclusion. The problem is not that doing things with v2000 is impossible but that it would be more difficult, perhaps unstable on that platform, and a later release might have tools that allow new features to be implemented much more easily.

    Yes, the security needs to be addressed for authorized applications. Suffice to say here, there are tools that can be used to develop without getting interrupted by security – which truly is there to prevent unauthorized people from easily doing exactly what we’re doing here.

    If you’d like to discuss how various products might help you to accomplish your various business goals, please email. Or, you are welcome to open discussions in our forum. Thanks again!

Leave a Reply