The CRM Group on the Outlook Bar provides quick access to folders

Figure 12.5 - The Companies folder organized using the By Country view. The Create Shared Items custom toolbar and the Find pane are both visible.

-=The By Country view displays companies organized by country

If you examine Figures 12-1 and 12-5, you'll observe that both the Company form Inspector window and the Companies folder Explorer window share a similar toolbar. The Create Shared Items toolbar allows the user to create shared items in subfolders of the Companies folder. Users can create shared appointment, task, contact, e-mail, document, and journal items. One interesting feature of the North wind Contact Management application is that it re-creates the standard Outlook phone dialer behavior. However, it allows the user to create a shared journal item for a phone call, rather than a private journal item. Figure 12-6 shows the New Call dialog box that contains a check box for recording the phone call activity in the Shared Journal public folder.

Viewing Shared Activities

Let's assume that you're a sales manager and you'd like to review the recent activities for The Hungry Coyote Import Store. If you click the Shared Activities page of the Company form, you will see the activities tracking power of Outlook in action. Like Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002 supports contact activity tracking in public folders. Journal entries, appointments, contacts, documents, tasks, and e-mail items can be stored in shared public folders and viewed from the Shared Activities page of a custom Company item. In Figure 12-3, the Shared Activities page shows a view of shared journal items for The Hungry Coyote Import Store.

Figure 12.6 - The New Call dialog box allows you to record phone call activity in the Shared Journal public folder. Custom Views on the Shared Activities Page

You can define custom views on the Shared Activities page for each shared folder that you select in the drop-down list. Unlike the standard Activity page in an Outlook contact item, the Company custom form contains both a folder and view selector to allow a user to choose different views for a specific shared activities folder. The Shared Activities page is built with the versatile Outlook View Control. First introduced as an ActiveX control for Outlook 2000 that was available by download from the Web, the Outlook View Control is an integral component of Outlook 2002.

For additional information about the properties, methods, and new events available for the Outlook View Control in Outlook 2002, seeChapter 15.

Viewing Sales Data in the Customer Form

The North wind Contact Management application also demonstrates how Outlook can be integrated with other data sources, including Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, and other OLE DB or ODBC-compliant databases. The Orders page of the Company form contains a PivotTable List control. The Orders page is hidden if the user is offline or the company does not have a record in the Customers table of the North wind database. The PivotTable List is an ActiveX control that ships with Office XP. The Office XP Web Components are the Chart, Spreadsheet, and Data Source controls. From a functional point of view, a PivotTable List is an interactive table that lets a user analyze data. Typically, the PivotTable List is placed on a Web or data access page. However, the PivotTable List control can also take up residence on an Outlook form page, as shown in Figure 12-7. You can use the list to view and organize data from the Northwind database, filter the result of a query and show selected fields, and export the data in the list to Microsoft Excel.

The Office XP PivotTable List requires that you install Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 or later for it to function correctly. You must install Internet Explorer 4.01 or 5.0 or later for a successful Outlook 2002 installation anyway. However, you do not have to make Internet Explorer your default browser if you elect to use another browser. Office XP Web Components do not run in Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer 3. To design a component-based page with Access or browse a page created with Access, you must use Internet Explorer 5.0 or later.

Recording Shared Activities by Using Links

Companies stored in a Contact form are just the starting point for the Northwind Contact Management application. What makes this application unique is its ability to track your activities with Company items in several subfolders. The most obvious feature for anyone who has used Outlook to associate contacts with trading partners is the Shared Contacts folder, a subfolder of the Companies folder. The Shared Contacts folder contains the contact names in the Customers table in the Northwind database. In a rea I-world contact management scenario, contact records would most likely be stored in a separate table or in multiple tables. For the purposes of our demonstration, I've simply created a separate Company Contact item in the Shared Contacts folder and created a link between the Company Contact item and its parent Company item.

Links are a means of connecting one Outlook item with another. Every item type in the Outlook Object Model supports a Links collection object. However, only contact items can be members of the Links collection. Mail, appointment, contact, journal, and task items all contain a Links collection. Remember, however, that only contact items can be members of the Links collection. The Company Contact form shown in Figure 12-8 illustrates a linked company contact. Company contacts are typically individuals that work for the company as employees. There's also no reason why company contacts can't represent organizational entities as well.

Figure 12.8 - The Company Contact form.

To create additional shared contacts for a customer, click the Shared Contacts button on the Create Shared Items toolbar at the top of the Company form. Once you create those shared contacts, they are linked to the parent Company form by way of the Links collection and with a unique field generated during the ltem_Write event. If you do add a shared contact, the company contact immediately appears in the Outlook View Control on the General page of the Company form. You can open any linked company contact by double-clicking the item in the Outlook View Control.

Shared Documents

The Northwind Contact Management application can associate documents with a specific company. When you click the Shared Documents button on the Create Shared Items toolbar, you have the option of creating a Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, or Word document, as shown in Figure 12-9. Depending upon the application, you can select a document from the new Office XP Task pane or from a File New dialog box. In either case, you create the new document from a template and then save the document into the Shared Documents public folder. The Outlook Shared Activities COM Add-in provides document management functionality and is an integral part of the Northwind Contact Management application. This COM Add-in creates the Create Shared Items toolbar shown in Figure 12-5 and enables phone dialing, document creation, and linking.

Figure 12.9 - Creafe Office documents from a template with the Post Office Document dialog box. Shared Appointments and Tasks

Most of the other shared items in the Northwind Contact Management application are self-explanatory. The user clicks the appropriate shared item button on the Create Shared Items toolbar to create a shared appointment, e-mail, journal item, document, or task. If a user creates a shared appointment or task, she is asked whether she wants to create a copy of the item in her personal Calendar or Tasks folder. If the user selects Yes, a copy of the appointment item is created automatically in her Calendar folder. Unlike appointment items created in a public folder, appointment items created in a user's Calendar folder can have reminders set on them. Appointments and tasks placed in your personal folders are easily synchronized with a mobile device. Figure 12-10 shows a shared appointment created for a presentation with a Company item.

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