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Customizing Exchange through EWS

Among its many features, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 allows for the customization of email experience through the Exchange Web Services (EWS) application-programming interface.

This powerful tool allows you to perform a very large scope of operations on a user’s Exchange account. For example, custom applications can send emails and scan a user’s mailbox for new mail. They can even reschedule calendar items and update tasks. All these operations are performed for a user account directly on the Exchange Server.

It can be very useful for an organization that wishes to standardize or automate communications through email. Each email can be analyzed and edited before it is sent. Special routines can be run when the user deletes or creates objects in Outlook. One may want to hook custom archiving software to their mailbox or validate the content of outgoing emails. These scenarios and plenty others can be implemented through EWS. Many organizations have implemented EWS within Outlook plug-ins, but it can be part of any application since it doesn’t rely on Outlook to function.

Another important aspect is the fact that EWS is platform independent. That’s right! You can access the same data from your Linux box. This widens the possibilities for non-Windows clients. (Hmmm, think of cell phones?)

Of course, all these functionalities are available to SherWeb‘s clients as EWS is fully enabled for all our users of Hosted Exchange.

Developing applications using the Exchange Web Services tool requires basic web services programming skills. For those who don’t have these skills, consider that Exchange 2010 will push EWS even further. Learning it now will likely benefit your organization in the future. Microsoft provides a helpful starter’s guide as reference.

We would like to know how you are leveraging EWS in your organization. Please share your success, or failure, stories!

by Patrick Malouin. A software developer at SherWeb, Patrick works mainly on service provisioning and in R&D. He has been with the company since February 2009.

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