Exchange Server 2010 : Outlook Integration (part 4) - Contact Integration

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4. Contact Integration

SharePoint includes a built-in list template that allows you to create and manage contacts within a website. Columns that are part of this list are all the expected ones, such as First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Company, and Notes. In general, these are the same columns that you find for a contact record within Outlook.

There are many advantages to having SharePoint manage contacts. Having a centrally stored set of contacts for a department or a team site saves staff from having to maintain individual contact lists. Since the list is stored in SharePoint, as opposed to a contact entry within Active Directory, users can easily add, update, and remove contacts as needed. It's also much easier to store separate contact lists with only those contact records that are relevant. For example, you may want to store a single set of contacts that are relevant to a project and keep these separate from other contact lists.

Of course, storing the list in SharePoint offers all the SharePoint list benefits, such as versioning, item-level security, and creating multiple views (such as showing all contacts grouped by a region). Figure 10 shows how a populated contact list looks inside SharePoint.

Figure 10. SharePoint contact list

As with all lists and libraries, you use the Action menu in SharePoint to connect to a contact list. After confirming the connection in Outlook, the contact list will be created and cached inside your SharePoint Lists.pst file. You can find it along with your other contact lists when you click the Contacts link in the navigation pane.

Since this appears in Outlook as just another contact list, you have all the benefits of a regular contact list. For example, you can quickly copy or move entries between contact lists, contacts can be searched, and you can customize how you want to view the contacts in Outlook.

Another key benefit is that the contact list by default is marked as an Outlook address book. This allows you to easily send an email to a contact by simply using the contact's name. The name should resolve to the contact's email address. If you want to turn off this behavior, right-click the Contact list in Outlook and choose Properties. Click the Outlook Address Book tab and clear the check box, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. Disabling a contact list as an Outlook address book

A related feature is to search or browse contacts from a single list. For example, suppose you are composing a new message and can't recall the name of a contact. If you click the To button in the New Message dialog, you can select the desired contact list in the Address Book drop-down and just scroll through the list of names, as shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. Browsing contacts while composing an email
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