More Outlook observations

First another annoyance and then a plug for a forthcoming development tool…

Another annoying observation…when I delete a folder (e.g. a sub-folder under my Exchange-based account Inbox folder) why does Outlook regularly prevent me from emptying my Deleted Items folder on the same mail account (i.e. complain that synchronization between Outlook and Exchange must first be completed before deletion can occurr)?

This is nonsense; I’m deleting a folder. I don’t care about Exchange’s problems–I don’t want to see this folder and its content any more (sync or no sync). The dialog Outlook 2003 is presenting to me smacks of poorly crafted UI such as “you asked to do Foo…are you sure that you really want to do that?”

It strikes me that a better user experiences would be to allow my delete/empty operation to complete successfully at least from a presentation viewpoint if not also from a mailbox perspective. If mailbox processing is still required, Outlook can privately tell Exchange of this requirement. Unless someone can explain to me why transaction support for this processing is required, Outlook doesn’t have to worry about Exchange failing to carry out mailbox cleanup in regards to this operation (i.e. no rollback semantics).

On the upside for Outlook developers, later this year Microsoft will ship Outlook support for the first time as part of Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005–what those of us in the early access program (and elsewhere) have come to call VSTO-O (e.g. Kjell-Sverre Jerijærvi). While it doesn’t cause any underlying change to the Outlook 2003 data model, it does reduce the amount of effort to produce compelling solutions that leverage Outlook 2003. If you’re looking for object model changes, you’ll have to wait for “Outlook 12.” Hopefully there will VSTO-O coverage (sessions + BOFs) in LA during PDC 2005.

One of my MAAB colleagues, David Hill, was heavily involved in the architecture of VSTO-O. I have a lot of respect for David’s insights into Smart Clients–we work together on the Smart Client Architectures working group within MAAB–hence, my involvement in and support of VSTO-O.

On a historical note, VSTO-O supersedes a previous effort called “Elixir” that was never released but used primarily as a vehicle for early architectural feedback.