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Exchange Server 2010 : Outlook Integration (part 3) - Creating a Meeting Workspace

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3. Creating a Meeting Workspace

Related to calendar integration, Outlook also has the ability to create a SharePoint meeting workspace site when creating a meeting request. This makes it easy for a team to centralize agenda files, tasks, meeting attendees, and other details. This option appears as a button on the Outlook ribbon when you create a meeting request, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Creating a meeting workspace

After you click the Meeting Workspace button, a new area will appear on the right side of the meeting request. The first time you create a workspace this way, you will need to provide the URL to the parent website where you want the workspace created. You specify this by first clicking the Change Settings link and then clicking in the Select A Location drop-down list and choosing Other. You should be presented with an interface that looks like Figure 8.

Figure 8. Specifying the parent URL

For you to create a SharePoint meeting workspace from Outlook, you must have the Manage Hierarchy or Full Control permission in the parent site. If you do not have permissions, Outlook will let you know.

If the URL is valid and you have permissions to create a new website at this location, you are then asked for the new site's language and template. Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server both support five different templates for meetings. After you choose the desired template, click OK. Outlook will not only create the new site, but will also automatically grant site permissions to each meeting recipient that it recognizes. It will also store each recipient in an attendee list that you can see in the workspace site. In addition, it will put the URL of the workspace site in the body of your email message so all meeting attendees can find the new site. Figure 9 shows how it looks just after creation.

Figure 9. The newly created meeting workspace

At this point, the workspace site is ready for you to populate with agenda items and other meeting artifacts. In case you're wondering, if you make any changes to the meeting request, such as adding additional attendees or changing the scheduled date, it will also update these changes inside the workspace.

The title of the new site is based on the subject in the meeting request. Thus, it's best to set meeting request details first and then create the workspace. If you do not have a subject, Outlook will tell SharePoint to create the workspace as "untitled." If you'd like, you can always rename it inside SharePoint from the Site Settings screen (off the Site Actions menu).

You can also link to an existing SharePoint workspace site when creating a meeting. This is useful if you schedule several separate but related meetings and don't want to create and maintain multiple workspace sites. To do this, just click the Link To An Existing Workspace radio button and select an existing website in the drop-down list.

One final point: if you delete a meeting workspace site in SharePoint, Outlook cannot correct this and will link to a nonexistent site. This is not a big problem, but it may be confusing for users. Likewise, if you delete or cancel a meeting request, Outlook will not automatically delete the SharePoint site. In cases where you want to reschedule the meeting, it's best to just update the original meeting request rather than deleting it and creating a new one. If you really want to delete the meeting, it's best to delete the meeting request and then also delete the workspace site.

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