What Folder Home Pages Are

It's also important to understand what folder home pages are not. Folder home pages should not be confused with Outlook Web Access, or OWA. Folder home pages represent a client-based integration of Outlook with the Web. By definition, folder home pages require Outlook. Outlook Web Access, on the other hand, does not require an Outlook client for the Wndows or Macintosh environments.

Outlook Web Access

Outlook Web Access is a cross-platform technology that lets mobile users read their mail from a system that is independent of the Outlook client. OWA on the Exchange 2000 platform shows great improvement in both performance and scalability over Exchange 5.5. As users who read their e-mail at airport kiosks can testify, you don't need to have an Outlook client installed to read your mail from Outlook Web Access. The simplicity of Outlook Web Access also comes with some limitations. For example, Outlook Web Access cannot render Task or Journal items at this time. Furthermore, reminders are not available when you use Outlook Web Access. But you can expect Microsoft to make a significant effort to improve OWA and the Exchange 2000 Server platform in the future.

Outlook and the Web

The emergence of Web Storage System (also known as the Exchange store) applications has made it clear that browser-based applications built on the Exchange 2000 Server platform have a long life expectancy. Unlike Outlook forms, which are client based and subject to forms corruption, setup problems, security concerns, and dynamic-link library (DLL) incompatibilities, Web Storage System applications use efficient browser access to private and public stores on Exchange 2000 Server. Code executes on a secure server with ample processing power. Every item on Exchange 2000 Server is URL addressable, and items can reside in non-MAPI folder hierarchies that offer special deep-traveral search capabilities (unlike MAPI-based public folder hierarchies). Clearly Outlook's future promises more Web integration, not less. Inevitably a future .NET version of Outlook will extend Outlook's Web capabilities, yet the implications of such a .NET version for application development remain to be seen.

Folder Home Pages Compared to Outlook Web Access

The following table illustrates some of the differences between folder home pages and Outlook Web Access.

Technology

Outlook Web Access

Folder Home Pages

Client

Any browser that has the ability to render frames.

Outlook 2000 and 2002 only with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x or later

Client-side scripting

Yes

Yes

Server-side scripting with ASP or ASP+

Yes

Not typical when using Outlook View Control (However, folder home pages can also execute as ASP pages on a server.)

Supports event

Only if combined with Exchange 5.5 scripting agents or Exchange 2000 event sinks

Yes, using events in Outlook Object Model procedures

Supports Outlook View Control

No

Yes

Placeholder Folders and Active Folder Home Pages

Chapter 8, "Folders," briefly discusses folder home pages and presents you with some scenarios for their use in placeholder folders. The Northwind Contact Management Application uses an Access 2002 Data Access Page as a folder home page for the root folder of the application. Although the root folder does not contain Outlook items (and thus it is a placeholder to the active subfolders that do contain custom forms), it does host a folder home page that lets a user examine sales data in a Pivot Table List for current Northwind customers.

Typically, a placeholder folder home page does not let the user open items directly in the placeholder folder. A placeholder home page certainly qualifies as a folder home page, but it just scratches the surface of what is possible with this technology. In this chapter, you'll see examples of what I'll describe as an active folder home page. An active folder home page such as the Northwind Dashboard shown in Figure 15-1 lets the user directly manipulate the items contained in the folder hosting the home page. To start our tour of folder home page development opportunities, we'll first take a look at the tools you can use to create active folder home pages.

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    What are folder home pages?
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