Microsoft recommends that Exchange Server administrators look to SharePoint as a potential solution to move documents out of information stores. This suggestion was originally directed at public folder content, but Microsoft SharePoint can also be used to store other types of documents. Kalstrom's SharePoint Attachments for Outlook is an add-on tool that places attachments into SharePoint document workspaces -- helping slow the growth of the Exchange information store. A site license for the product costs about $500.
This tool doesn't migrate existing attachments from the Exchange information store to Microsoft SharePoint. However, it focuses on attachments that are sent by your users after the utility is installed.
After downloading the free trial version of the tool, however, I discovered that it wasn't very intuitive. It didn't come with any documentation that I could find, and it didn't create any items on the Windows Start menu or any obvious menu options in Microsoft Outlook. I later learned that you can download an instruction manual from the website. Once you understand how to use the tool, it's simple and effective.
SharePoint Attachments for Outlook starts when you compose an email message and include the attachment. An Attachment Options button has been added to Outlook (Figure 1). This button appears after you selected an attachment.
There are two options to send an attachment.
- Regular Attachments -- If you choose the Regular Attachments option, the attachment will be sent as usual.
- Shared Attachments -- If you choose the Shared Attachments option, the attachment will be written to a SharePoint document workspace. You must provide the path under which the new workspace should be created. Once you have provided this information, you can send the message.
When you look at the document library, you'll notice that the attachment hasn't been added (Figure 2). This is because email attachments aren't always something you want to catalog for long-term use in the document library.
Instead, the document is placed into a document workspace. In SharePoint, a document workspace is an area in which multiple users can collaborate on a specific document. When all of the work on the document is complete, the document can be uploaded to the library and the document workspace can be deleted.
To get to the document workspace using SharePoint 2005, click on the Documents and Lists link at the top of the screen (Figure 3).
If you look at the column on the left side of the screen, you'll notice a Document Workspaces option. Click on this option and SharePoint will display the screen shown in Figure 4.
The Document Workspaces screen contains a list of all the document workspaces that the user can access. You will also notice that there is a workspace named Freelance Writing, which was the name of the Outlook attachment that I sent out earlier (Figure 5). If I click on this workspace, I am taken to a screen that provides access to the document and various collaborative tools.
End users don't necessarily have to go through all of these steps to access the document. I sent the document to some recipients via email. Although the message didn't contain the actual document, the recipients did receive a direct link to the document workspace (Figure 6).
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About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Server (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.