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Better public folders with custom forms

Learn how you can increase Outlook organization by setting up forms and fields for public folder posts.

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If your organization heavily uses Exchange public folders, then you probably have at least a couple of folders to which users post regularly. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to configure those folders so posts are structured in a specific way? In this tip, I'll show you how you can increase Outlook organization by setting up forms and fields for public folder posts.

Step 1: Create an organizational library

First, you need to create an organizational form library:

  1. Navigate through the System Manager to Administrative Groups -> your administrative group -> Folders -> Public Folders.

  2. Now, right click on the Public Folders container and select the View System Folders option from the resulting shortcut menu.

    When you expand the Public Folders container, you will see a list of system folders beneath it. Later, when you want to be able to view public folders again, you will simply right click on the Public Folders container and select View Public Folders.

  3. Now that you have set the System Manager to display the system folders, expand the Public Folders container and look for the EFORMS REGISTRY folder.

  4. Right click on the EFORMS REGISTRY folder and select the New -> Organizational Form command. You will now see a properties sheet prompting you for a name.

  5. Name your form and click OK. The new form will now be visible beneath the EFORMS REGISTRY container.

Step 2: Set the necessary permissions

Before you will be able to create the new forms, you must set some basic permissions on the forms library. Only those users who have Owner permissions are allowed to publish forms to the library. Therefore, you must grant owner permissions to whoever will be creating the custom form (it is possible to have multiple owners):

  1. Right click on the form library that you just created and select Properties.

  2. Select the Permissions tab.

  3. Now click the Client Permissions button and assign Owner permissions to the person who will create the forms.

Step 3: Create the form

Now that you have established the required permissions, it is time to create the form that will be associated with a public folder:

  1. Open Outlook and select the Forms -> Design A Form from Outlook's Tools menu.

  2. You should see the Design Form dialog box appear. Make sure that the Look In dropdown list is set to Standard Forms Library.

  3. Select Post from the list of forms and click Open.

    You are now going to create a custom form that is based on the Post form.

  4. The next screen that you will see displays the Post form within the form editor. Editing Forms can be really complicated because you can build intelligence into them. However, your forms don't have to be complicated. You can simply delete the existing fields and drag new ones into the editor from the Field Chooser window.

  5. Once your new form looks the way you want it to, choose Forms -> Publish Form As from the Tools menu. You will now see Outlook's Publish Form As dialog box.

  6. Select Organizational Forms Library from the Look In dropdown list.

  7. Enter a display name and form name, then click the Publish button.

  8. Close the Form Editor.

  9. When Outlook asks you if you want to save the changes, click No. Otherwise, you will replace the Post form with your custom form (you can do a Save As to save the form under a different name).

Step 4: Associate the form with a public folder

The last step in the procedure is associating the newly created form with a public folder (again, you must have owner permissions over the public folder to which you are linking the form):

  1. Right click on the public folder and select Properties.

  2. Now select the Forms option from the When Posting To This Folder Use dropdown list.

  3. You should now be taken to the Organizational Forms Library. But if not, you can select the Organizational Forms Library option from the Look In dropdown list. When you do, all of the forms within the library will be displayed.

  4. Select the appropriate form and click OK twice.

    Now, any time that someone makes a post to the folder, the post will be made within the designated form you created.

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as the CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, TechTarget, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at http://www.brienposey.com.


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