The Basics of Collaboration
Need a reference point for learning collaborative application development?
- By Brian Reisman
Messaging and collaboration are at the heart
of business. Whether you're dealing with appointments,
tasks or simply communication via e-mail, you're using
a messaging infrastructure. Building a collaborative application
with Microsoft Exchange is much easier than creating one
from scratch. Most of the infrastructure for what you
want to do is already there, and your users already know
how to use Outlook. Using Collaborative Data Objects (CDO)
and the Messaging API (MAPI), you can capitalize on this
Writing mail-enabled applications is no easy
task. Sometimes adding a feature such as collaboration
can involve more work than you thought. Fortunately, with
the right resource, this seemingly daunting task can be
much easier. Enter CDO & MAPI Programming with Visual
Basic. This book can be an invaluable resource to
anyone charged with writing collaborative applications
for the first time.
It begins as many technical books do, with
a history of the technology and an overview of what's
to come. Next, the author goes into some detail on the
underlying architecture of MAPI and CDO then introduces
you to Simple MAPI, which, as the author points out, is
practically useless unless you're dealing with legacy
systems. The next subject is CDO, showing the object model
and tidbits of code. In Chapters 6 and 7, the author demonstrates
how to create an e-mail application and covers some advanced
topics such as folders, filters and address books. Chapters
8 through 10 cover Calendar, Tasks and Contact Folders.
Chapter 11, entitled "Web Applications," introduces some
of the things that CDO can do to display data on the Web.
Then, in less than 20 pages, the author takes a quick
look at CDO for Windows 2000.
If you're writing an application in a pre-Exchange
2000 shop, this book will be a fine addition to your library.
The target audience is developers who are new to COM and
fairly new to VB. The information in the book that dealt
with larger issues was, at times, remedial. The Web Applications
chapter covers configuring IIS and an overview of ASP
and its functions in just a few pages. I would have liked
to have seen more in-depth coverage of the ASP side of
things. The author should also have provided more information
on CDONTS and the latest version of CDO; as it is, he
barely mentions it. I was also disappointed by the lack
of information regarding Exchange 2000's Web storage system.
However this book was apparently written prior to the
release date of Exchange 2000.
All in all, this book's usefulness depends
highly on the reader's needs. If you're looking to master
CDO 1.21 for Exchange 5.5 and earlier or need to keep
up with legacy systems using MAPI, this book is an excellent
place to start. But if you're an experienced Visual Basic
programmer, you'll find yourself skimming for the meat
while skipping the information you learned when you started
Brian M. Reisman, MCAD, MCDBA, MCSD, MCSE, MCT, is author of MCAD/MCSD: Visual Basic .NET Windows and Web Applications Study Guide (Sybex).