Tutorial

A behind-the-scenes look at Outlook 2007 and SharePoint integration

The key to automating SharePoint and Microsoft Outlook 2007 integration is understanding what's going on beneath the surface. Outlook 2007's Administrative templates allow you to control virtually every aspect of Outlook using Group Policy settings. One setting allows you to link Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 calendars, which are known as lists, to Outlook.

What is the benefit of manually linking a calendar to Outlook, instead of entering the calendar's URL into a Group Policy setting? The URL you see when accessing a SharePoint calendar through a Web browser isn't the same as the URL that Outlook uses internally. Outlook uses a special URL to maintain synchronization with the calendar; you can't get this URL directly off of the SharePoint site.

Steps to automate access to SharePoint calendars

Although making SharePoint calendars accessible through Outlook 2007 is a manual process, it will actually be the first step of the automated integration process.

  1. To create a SharePoint calendar, open your SharePoint site and click on the Document Center link and then click on the Site Actions button.
  2.  

  3. Choose Create from the menu and to view SharePoint's Create page. Next, click on the Calendar link, located in the Custom Lists column (Figure 1).

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  1. Figure 1. Click on the Calendar link, found in the Custom Lists column.

  2.  

  3. SharePoint will prompt you to enter a name and description for the calendar that you're creating. There is also an option to display the calendar on the Quick Launch. Once you've entered the required information, click Create and your calendar will be created (Figure 2).


    Figure 2. Your SharePoint calendar.

  4.  

  5. To integrate SharePoint with Outlook, choose the Connect to Outlook option from the Actions menu (Figure 3). You may receive a warning message stating that the website wants to open a program on your computer. If so, click Allow.


    Figure 3. Choose the Connect to Outlook option from the Actions menu.

  6.  

  7. You will receive a pop-up message in Outlook 2007 asking if you want to connect your SharePoint calendar to Outlook. Before you select Yes, click on the Advanced button. Outlook will display a dialog box containing a few different options.
  8.  

  9. It's important to instruct Outlook not to display the list on other computers that you use. Additionally, choose the option to update the subscription according to the publisher's recommendations.
  10.  

  11. Click OK and then Yes to open the SharePoint calendar in conjunction with your Outlook calendar (Figure 4).


    Figure 4. Your SharePoint calendar opens alongside your Outlook calendar.

Copying and storing SharePoint data

When you connect Outlook 2007 to MOSS 2007, you don't actually copy SharePoint data to the Exchange server. Instead, SharePoint data will be stored in personal folders (.pst files) within users profiles. This has two implications:

  1. Integration won't increase the size of your Exchange stores.
  2.  

  3. You must focus your attention on users' profiles.

If you're using roaming profiles, .pst files can cause problems. These files are typically stored on the user's local hard drive. Therefore, if a user enables roaming profiles and switches to a different computer, he will receive an error message when opening Outlook.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

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This was first published in September 2009

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