Proving you know how to create collaborative solutions with Outlook 2000 and Exchange Server 5.5 means understanding VB, ASP, COM, and CDO, among other technologies.
If the length of an exam’s title is
any indication of its complexity, then you shouldn’t be
surprised by this latest offering from Microsoft. Covering
several areas, including Visual Basic, Active Server Pages,
the Outlook object model, and several BackOffice products,
this exam is not for the faint-hearted. But if you want
to prove to clients or employers that you really know
how to customize Outlook and develop feature-rich, database-driven
Exchange applications, passing this exam is a big step
in the right direction. What kind of applications are
we talking about here? Everything from simple Outlook
forms that implement some type of business logic to extensive
public folder applications designed to facilitate collaboration.
2000/Exchange Server 5.5 (70-105)
Rating: “To get through this one,
code several Outlook applications and
use as many different Microsoft technologies
Designing and Implementing Collaborative
Solutions with Microsoft Outlook 2000
and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5.
Number of questions:
125 on beta; probably about half that
on actual exam.
4 hours for beta; expect around 90 minutes
for the live exam.
Live as of December 1999.
Who should take
it? This exam counts as an elective
toward the MCSD certification.
What classes prepare
- 1593: Building Collaborative Solutions
Using Microsoft Outlook 2000; 5 days,
- 1153: Overview of Microsoft Exchange
Collaboration Development; 2 days,
- 1251: Programming with Microsoft
Exchange Collaboration Data Objects;
2 days, instructor-led.
From the exam’s title I expected a
lot of Exchange Server- and Outlook-specific questions.
Interestingly, few questions actually dealt with pure
Exchange Server; I suppose Microsoft prefers to save those
for test 70-081. But you should expect to know something
about Visual Basic programming, the Outlook object model,
and CDO and COM objects.
Although I didn’t study for this exam
per se, I did prepare myself by reviewing the Outlook
object model and looking at the source code of several
existing Outlook/Exchange applications. I also have a
fair amount of experience working with Visual Basic in
one form or another. I would have thought that all this,
coupled with my hands-on Exchange experience, would have
sufficiently prepared me to take this exam.
You can understand my surprise when I encountered questions
on Microsoft Site Server, SQL Server, Internet Information
Server, and even Systems Management Server. Even though
these questions represented a small fraction of the test,
I’m sure I missed a few of them, which won’t help my chances
Tip: Make sure you’re familiar
with all of Microsoft’s products targeted for the Internet/intranet
environment. These include IIS, SQL Server, Site Server,
Index Server, and Transaction Server, as well as Exchange.
Know how each product works and when you would use them.
This is a Developer’s Test, After All
Even though I expected to be tested
on VB, I was still surprised at how many questions dealt
with syntax and programming constructs. This seems to
be a trend with Microsoft. It keeps enhancing its development
products with things like wizards and context-sensitive
syntax completion, yet expects would-be MCPs to know this
stuff cold. I have grown to depend on the nifty features
of the various VB development environments, like getting
a drop-down list of all available properties and methods
for an object after typing the period. Consequently, I’ve
gotten a bit lazy in remembering the specific rules regarding
syntax. If you have this habit too, it’s time to hit the
But even if you have the syntax down
pat, your chances of passing will greatly improve if you’re
also familiar with the design aspects of developing an
Outlook solution. It’s not that there are a lot of test
questions that deal specifically with design issues; but
knowing the why behind the various test scenarios will
help ascertain the how.
This test also expects you to know the Outlook object
model. Several questions presented a particular requirement,
like checking the Inbox for messages with a certain subject
line and then acting upon them. From the code fragments
offered as ways to meet the requirement, you’re supposed
to choose which ones will work. I found myself guessing
at many of these, not knowing off the top of my head the
myriad objects, methods, and properties available in Outlook.
Tip: Real-world experience
would definitely help here, but you still need to know
the object model and VB syntax inside and out. Try coding
several routines in Notepad instead of your regular development
environment. This will force you to do everything “by
CDO, ADO, COM, and Other TLAs (Three-Letter
It’s possible to create complex, database-driven
applications in Outlook and Exchange without ever having
to create a component object model (COM) object or use
a single active database object (ADO) call. But apparently
Microsoft really wants you to use these and other technologies;
they surfaced repeatedly on the beta exam.
Although the most attention was given
to collaborative data objects (CDO), ADO, and COM, I also
faced questions on active server pages (ASP), SQL queries,
and even ActiveX controls (sorry, there’s no TLA for these.
I found some questions more difficult than ones I have
encountered in other tests, including the IIS 4.0 and
IEAK 4.0 exams.
A typical exam scenario would involve an application
that used custom-written ActiveX controls and COM objects
inside of an Outlook form that gathered some of its information
from an Exchange public folder and other information from
a SQL Server database. If you’ve already developed an
application like this, you’re well on your way to passing
this exam; if not, plan to try your hand at it.
Tip: Create and incorporate
a few COM objects into an application. Know how the various
object properties work. Understand the difference between
CDO and ADO objects and when you would use one over the
Where’s the Exchange?
I expected coverage of topics like
using the Administrator program, dealing with Exchange
services, or working with site design issues. From my
own experience, I know that custom programs can impact
these areas. A custom public folder application, for example,
needs to take into consideration how public folder replication
and affinity are configured.
Exchange Server wasn’t totally absent from the exam,
however. To get through successfully, make sure you know
object names, like how to refer to a particular mailbox
on a particular server.
Tip: Knowing how Exchange
handles public and private information stores, as well
as how the various recipient containers are configured,
can help on this test. Also make sure you know the x.400-naming
schema, as used by Exchange.
Routing Objects, Web Forms, and Other
There were several questions involving
Routing Objects, dealing with things like creating routing
maps and using routing objects to gather information about
items and their properties. There were also a few questions
on creating HTML forms from Outlook forms. Add in the
questions about Transaction Server, deploying COM objects
and Active X controls, and how to best distribute a complete
application, and you’re starting to get a feel for the
breadth of this exam.
At the Microsoft Exchange Conference
I attended soon after taking this exam, I saw a perfect
example of these technologies in action. The Comm network
available to conference attendees provided email, scheduling,
event information, discussion forums, and Internet access
via several banks of PCs. After logging into any one of
the PCs, you’d get both an Outlook view and a Web-based
view of your information.
Let’s say I wanted to know what breakout
sessions were happening on a particular afternoon. I could
go to Outlook and check out the conference schedule in
a public folder or click on a link on the Web page. Once
I found the session I wanted, I could open a form describing
the session in detail. On the form was a button that would
add the session to my personal calendar in Outlook. As
I was thinking how impressed I was with the consultants
who developed this system, I figured they’d be a shoe-in
to pass this exam!
Want to pass this daunting exam? Code
several Outlook applications and use as many different
Microsoft technologies as possible. For example, try writing
an app that uses an Outlook form coupled with a public
folder to route helpdesk requests to appropriate mailboxes,
based on a set of criteria stored in an SQL database.
You could put a COM object on the form to query the database,
while creating a Web page view for the public folder that
stores the requests. As you code, try to accomplish the
same functionality in different ways (by using the different
syntax forms for editing properties, for instance). Put
a poster of the Outlook object model on your wall and
study it while you’re on hold with a client. And when
you pass, make sure you charge an extra $25 an hour for
Kevin Kohut has been involved with information technology in some form or another for over 18 years, and has a strong business management background as well. As a computer consultant, Kevin has helped both small businesses and large corporations realize the benefits of applying technology to their business needs.