Exchange Server 2010 : Outlook Integration (part 6) - Alert Integration

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6. Alert Integration

A SharePoint alert is a notification that will send you an email when some type of change occurs within a SharePoint list or library. This is quite helpful when you consider the vast amount of information that SharePoint can amass. Unless you check regularly, you have no way of knowing that tasks were marked as complete, or that a new project document was just uploaded into a library.

Users can create alerts on individual lists or libraries, such as a tasks list or a document library. The alert can be created by selecting the Alert Me option in the Actions menu of a list or library, as shown in Figure 18.

From here, you are presented with a new screen where you have the option of defining the criteria that determines what triggers alert messages to you. The available criteria will vary depending on what list type the alert is based on. Figure 19 shows the settings when you add an alert on a tasks list.

Figure 18. Creating an alert on a tasks list

Figure 19. Defining alert criteria

In addition to the criteria, you can specify the desired frequency when creating an alert. For some alerts you might want to be notified immediately, whereas for others a daily or weekly summary is more suitable. For users who have the Manage Hierarchy or Full Control permission in a website, you can create alerts for other users as well. You will see this option when you create a new alert.

For each alert you create, you will receive a single registration-like email that provides you with the address of the website and the list on which the alert was created. However, SharePoint does not offer a single view that lets you see all the alerts you have across a multitude of websites. This is where Outlook can help.

Outlook is able to provide a consolidated view of all your SharePoint alerts. It also offers an easy way to delete alerts. You can access this from Outlook by selecting Tools Rules And Alerts, and clicking the Manage Alerts tab. The initial screen will look like Figure 20.

Since your existing alerts may be scattered among dozens of lists in various SharePoint websites, Outlook is not able to automatically find them all. What you must do is provide Outlook with the address of each website where you have alerts configured. From here, it will allow you to edit, delete, or add new ones.

To create a website address for Outlook, you must select the New Alert toolbar button shown in Figure 20. Even though you may not want to create a new alert, this is the only screen where you can enter a website address. After you click New Alert, you are presented with the dialog shown in Figure 21.

Figure 20. Managing SharePoint alerts

Enter the website address and click Open. At this time, a SharePoint browser window will open, prompting you to create a new alert. If you intend on creating an alert at this time, choose a list or library and click Next. If you only want Outlook to find all the existing alerts on this website, you can just close the browser window. In my case, we have added the address of three separate SharePoint websites (Document Center, SharePoint Consolidation, and Team Site). Outlook is now able to find all the alerts that have been configured (Figure 22).

Figure 21. Adding a website URL for a new alert

Figure 22. Active SharePoint alerts

Synching with SharePoint

For Outlook to pull down all your alerts, you must either wait for the next re-sync or force it to sync immediately by pressing F9. This hot key will synchronize all your connected lists and libraries.

Once Outlook finds all your alerts, you can edit them. However, editing an alert simply takes you to the SharePoint web page, so you cannot edit them offline or directly in Outlook. Creating an alert works the same, so you must also do it through SharePoint. Deleting an alert is a bit more seamless. When you delete it from Outlook, it will automatically delete it in SharePoint for you.

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