Microsoft Exchange Automation

by marjo martinez, in Tech Talk, posted 5/4/09

Introduction
More organizations use Microsoft Exchange for email-based collaboration than any other software on the market today. Not only is Exchange reliable and secure, it’s also highly scalable. As a result, more employees are utilizing other features found in Microsoft Outlook such as contacts, calendars, notes and tasks and relying on Exchange to access such items when they are on the road.

AutoMate now contains an ‘Exchange’ action with functionality to automate a variety of Exchange related activities, such as creating contacts, retrieving tasks and entering  schedules. This article will provide details regarding the ‘Exchange’ action and supply instructions on how to properly setup its properties.

NOTE: The ‘Exchange’ action is compatible only with Microsoft Exchange Server. It will not function with other email management servers.


Microsoft Exchange Action Properties
The Exchange action can found in the Available Actions list of the Task Builder under the Internet folder. Dragging the action to the Steps pane presents its properties as shown below.
 

On the General tab properties of the Exchange action, the parameter labeled Action specifies the type of activity that AutoMate will perform at runtime. The available dropdown options are as follows:

  • Create Exchange Object (Default): Creates a new Exchange object. This can be a new appointment, contact or task.
  • Get Exchange Object: Retrieves the Exchange object specified. This allows retrieval of a single or multiple contacts, appointments or task.
  • Modify Exchange Object: Modifies an existing object. This can be used to reschedule an appointment or update contact information.
  • Delete Single Exchange Object: Removes an individual appointment, task or contact.
  • Delete Exchange Object: Removes a single or multiple exchange objects matching the parameters specified. 

The Exchange Object Type field specifies the type of Exchange object to perform the selected action on, as specified under the Action parameter. The available drop-down options as mentioned above are as follows:

  • Appointment
  • Contact
  • Task

The parameters labeled Mailbox URL, Username, Password and Domain Name are used to properly authenticate against the specified Exchange Server and therefore are always required.

  • Mailbox URL: Specifies the mailbox URL which will perform the selected action as specified under the Action parameter (i.e. http://servername/exchange/recipient@company.com).
  • Username / Password: These fields require the username and password of the user who owns the mailbox specified under the Mailbox URL parameter.
  • Domain Name: This parameter specifies the domain name corresponding to the mailbox entered under the Mailbox URL parameter.


NOTE: Microsoft Exchange contains security features which may deny AutoMate from sending / receiving email or may block access to the server altogether. In such cases, you may need to contact an administrator in order to configure Exchange to allow AutoMate access.

Certain parameters may or may not appear depending on the combination of options chosen from the Action and Exchange Object Type parameters. They are as follows:

  • Populate variable with object address: Specifies the name of a previously created AutoMate variable in which to populate with the address of the created Exchange object. This parameter is available only when the Create Exchange Object option is selected under the Action parameter.
  • Dataset to populate: Specifies the name of an AutoMate dataset in which to populate with the information about the Exchange object to retrieve. This parameter is available only when the Get Exchange Object option is selected under the Action parameter.
  • Exchange object address: Specifies the address of the individual Exchange object in which to modify or delete. This parameter is available only when the Modify Exchange Object or Delete Exchange Object option is selected under the Action parameter.

When objects such as contacts, appointments or tasks are created, certain properties are required by the Exchange server in order to accept those objects.

Whenever the option labeled Create Exchange Object is selected under the Action parameter, a Load required properties button appears (circled in red). Clicking this button will load all of the required properties for the particular object chosen in the PropertyName column. Loaded properties vary depending on whether a contact, appointment or task is created. For example, if the action to create an appointment is selected, clicking the Load required properties button will load the following properties in the PropertyName column as illustrated below.

  • Subject
  • StartDate
  • EndDate
  • Body
  • Location


Simply enter the desired value for each property under the PropertyValue column.

Besides the required properties, other properties can be selected by clicking the Add button or simply clicking the next empty row in the properties list. A dropdown arrow will appear (circled in red below). Clicking the arrow will present a full list of Exchange related properties to select from. To remove an existing property, highlight the row where the desired property is located and click the Remove button. To move a property up or down the list, highlight the row and click the Move Up or Move Down button.

When the Action parameter is set to the option Get Exchange Object or Delete Exchange Object, the PropertyName section can be used to filter certain attributes. For example, to retrieve a list of contacts from Los Angeles only, first enter a dataset to populate the returned list under the Dataset to populate parameter, then select City under the PropertyName column and enter Los Angeles under the ProprtyValue column as shown below.

The PropertyValue column accepts accepts expressions such as variables and constants. 

NOTE: Be sure to enter filter parameters when deleting a range of objects. If no filter is entered, all instances of that object will be deleted upon execution. If deleting only a single object, select the option Delete single exchange object under the Action parameter.

When the Action parameter is set to the option Modify Exchange Object, the PropertyName section is used to specify the property in which to modify and the PropertyValue section is used to enter the new value.


Conclusion
Many organizations are finding that using Microsoft Exchange Server has increased the reliability of their email functions as well as adding a host of other applications that can be utilized to make conducting regular business even easier. But perhaps one of the biggest benefits that Microsoft Exchange Server provides to its users is the enhanced security features included in the software. This added security allows companies to feel confident that their email system is fully protected at all times and allows employees and customers to utilize the email system to its full potential. This means sending more emails, adding more contacts and creating more appointments and tasks. AutoMate can play a big part in the ever-growing need for companies to automate their email activities. Coupled with AutoMate’s  ‘Send Email’ and ‘Get Email’ actions, Exchange users can now fully automate virtually all of their email related activities.