Interview with the New Owner of OutlookCode.com
Recently, Microsoft Outlook MVP Eric Legault acquired the site OutlookCode.com from longtime Outlook MVP and author Sue Mosher. Eric, through his company Collaborative Innovations, has been developing solutions for Outlook, Exchange and Sharepoint environments for about 7 years.
We had a chance to chat with Eric after this acquisition:
MSExchangeBlog: What are your plans for the site, OutlookCode.com? Where do you see it in a year or two?
Eric Legault: My primary goal is to make sure the site continues to be the number one resource for Outlook developers. Sue put a lot of work into the site over the years, so the pressure is on to maintain that high level of quality and ensure that people don’t drift away from the forums. Sue’s been the face of Outlook development for a long time, and now this weird Canadian dude is suddenly jumping up and down on her ship. I’m just going to try not to rock the boat too much.
In the long term I want to see it evolve to encompass Microsoft’s collaboration toolset as a whole, featuring developer news, resources and forums for SharePoint and Exchange and maybe other products as well. I also intend to keep the relationship between Sue’s Outlook books and the site, as I will most likely be writing a programming book for the next version of Outlook as well.
If I have time, I may even get creative and do some kind of new media thing as a kind of sister-site. I already have outlookiscool.com, but I’d need <COUGH FUNDING> help from the Microsoft PR/marketing machine…
MSEB: You have fairly active forums on the OutlookCode.com site. Is this the premier non-Microsoft resource for peer-to-peer assistance on Outlook programming?
EL: Absolutely. I can’t even think of another forum that’s not Microsoft related - MSDN Forums and the microsoft.public.outlook* newsgroups are the only other active communities that I’ve utilized or participated in.
MSEB: What percentage of Outlook development is connected to Microsoft Exchange Server? Sharepoint?
EL: For a rough number, I’d say 75% Exchange and 10% SharePoint (15% Outlook only). Of course if we look at the consumer market we’d be seeing very little integration in Outlook with those products. I can only accurately speak from my experiences, but I’ve certainly seen that the majority of Outlook projects for businesses are related to Exchange in some way. SharePoint integration is picking up as companies start to realize the potential and see ways where custom solutions can solve some unique business challenges.
I’m also starting to see more and more projects that are completely Exchange driven without using one bit of client side programming with Outlook. These are typically Windows Services applications using Redemption, and are taking on SOA aspects as they integrate Exchange with databases and web services. Outlook is ultimately involved in the processes that flow through these components but may not even be extended into these solutions with COM Add-Ins or custom forms.
MSEB: How does the increased use of Exchange Web Services (EWS) influence Outlook development decisions and opportunities?
EL: I haven’t really caught this wave yet, although one of my upcoming projects will finally let me play with EWS. But the issues are apparent – at what point does the solution make sense to be completely decoupled from Outlook? There’s little functionality in EWS AFAICS that can’t be done in a COM Add-In with OOM and Redemption. From my perspective EWS are ways to get at Exchange data without Outlook – but I think Outlook is already the ideal solution in many cases. So I think we’re looking at non-competing areas, although I’m constantly looking at opportunities where EWS can shine when used within an Outlook COM Add-In. However, I think EWS has the greatest potential to extend SharePoint solutions.
Much of the messaging functionality to date has been nothing more than glorified OWA Web Parts or Outlook View Controls. There’s a huge gap there, but that space will get filled as more and more projects pile up to get the data in Public Folders migrated to SharePoint. Even though that’s really moving away from Exchange to SharePoint, the increased exposure to the platforms from both sides will nurture innovation. The experience gained in these projects will most likely see Exchange devs and IT pros looking at SharePoint with new ideas for collaborative tools, and then the SharePoint experts will get more and more exposed to looking at how to bring content that is staying in Exchange to the forefront in their deployments - content that would be ideally accessed via EWS.
MSEB: Will we see NHL hockey in Winnipeg, MB again anytime soon?
EL: I’m one of those idealists who still believes it’s possible – regardless of the economic realities, available franchises or the ability or willingness of Winnipeggers to pay for tickets that will be more than double what it was before. It’s inevitable that the NHL will add one or more teams to Canada because the Southern US experiment will eventually fail and see one or two teams fold , and the overall sentiment is that a team should be put here first (sorry Quebec).
Hockey will always be the #4 sport or lower in the US, and always #1 in Canada – logic and passion will eventually win and the focus will return to nurturing hockey’s roots in its primary markets. But I think that when a franchise does becomes available, we will still need a billionaire white knight to take the risk and make it happen. I’m looking at you Mr. Gates – you’ll be a hero in Canada. Think of the “Winnipeg Vistas”…
MSEB: Thank you for your time Eric, and best of luck with your new venture.
EL: Thanks William!
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