Customizing New Meeting Request Outlook Form

by Daniel Petri - January 7, 2009

You are all familiar with the standard Outlook form for meeting requests where you specify the meeting details and invite attendees and probably have seen it so many times that an idea of changing the way the form looks or adding some information to the form is something you have not even thought about.

But suppose one day you come to work and discover that there had been a management meeting (oh well… they always have those weird requests) and the folks in charge have come to conclusion that there are too many meetings held in your organization.

Almost every topic involving more than one attendee results in a meeting being scheduled, while quite a generous amount of the issues planned to be resolved during the meeting can actually be solved by simple phone call.

A standard meeting form:

At this stage the management issues a new policy and requests from the messaging administrators to customize the meeting request form and add some guidelines to remind the mere mortals not to waste company resources. Those familiar with creating Outlook forms will probably have the quick answer and will create a custom Outlook form published to "Organizational Forms Library" (more on this later), and will be on the right track, but yet without a complete solution.

In order to actually to achieve the goal we need to perform several tasks:

  1. Create a custom Outlook form
  2. Publish the new Outlook form to Organizational Public Forms public folder
  3. Configure the clients to use the new form instead of the generic "New Meeting Request" form

Creating a custom Outlook form

I will not delve into the wizardry of customizing the Outlook forms. I am far from being an expert on the topic, but there are enough resources online to help you at carrying this task. Here we perform a very basic change: we will add some text to meeting description and add a short notice in the Location field, but do not let this fool you - you can perform much more interesting customizations, add field, custom actions, add scripts and much more, but this is beyond the scope of this article.

  1. Open Outlook and focus on your Calendar folder (in Outlook 2003 you will need to switch to Folder List view)
  2. From the menu select Tools -> Forms -> Design Form
  3. In the "Look in:" drop down make sure you have "Standard Forms Library" selected, highlight "Appointment" in the list of the available forms and click Open
  4. You will be presented with Appointment form in design mode:

  1. Type in the guidelines for new meeting requests and add a short notice in the Location field to book rooms as Resource as show in the screenshot:

  1. From the menu select "Tools -> Forms -> Publish form as". In the "Look in:" drop down box select "Personal Forms Library" and in the "Display Name" field provide a descriptive name:

  1. Click Publish.
  2. Close the form designer. When asked whether to save the changes, choose No.
  3. Test the results:
    1. In Outlook go to "File -> New -> Choose form…"
    2. In the drop down box pick the "Personal forms Library"
    3. Select the form you have created in the previous steps
    4. Click Open. The result should be similar to this:

  4. We are done with the form. The next step is to make the form available to all Exchange recipients (or shell I say "Outlook clients accessing the Exchange server using MAPI or RPC/HTTPS"?)

Publishing the new form to Organizational Forms Library public folder

  1. First make sure the Organizational Forms Library public folder exists. MS KB244591 article will help you determine if you have one and will provide instruction to create it if you have none.
  2. Make sure you have enough permission on the forms library:
    1. In the Exchange System Manager drill down to Organizational Form container you have created in the previous step
    2. Right-click the Organizational Forms Library (or the name you gave to it in the previous step) container and go to Permissions tab

  1. Make sure the account you will use to access Exchange has at least Author permissions:

  1. Publish the form to Organizational Forms Library:
    1. In Outlook from the menu select "Tools -> Forms -> Design a form…"
    2. From the Personal Forms Library pick the for you have created and click Open
    3. From the menu select "Tools -> Forms -> Publish form as". In the "Look in:" drop down box select "Organizational Forms Library" and in the "Display Name" field provide a descriptive name:

  1. Notice the "Message class" at the bottom. Write it down - you will need it later.
  2. Click Publish.
  3. Close the form designer. When asked whether to save the changes, choose No.
  1. The form now can be used by all Exchange clients using Outlook.

Configuring the clients to use the new form

  1. Download formsadmin.exe from HERE (101kb).
  2. After running the formsadmin.exe 2 files will be extracted: FormSwap.exe and FormsAdminReadme.rtf
  3. Run the FormSwap.exe and in the "For composing use:" fill in the name of the message class you had written down before:

  1. Click Save and "Export Saved Settings…". This will generate a reg file.
  2. FormsAdmin generates registry entries suitable for Outlook 2000 and therefore we will need to edit the registry file so that it will work with Outlook 2002 (XP) and 2003. If you open the file you will notice that the registry keys are for Outlook 9.0:

  1. For Outlook 2002 you will need to replace "9.0" with "10.0". For Outlook 2003 you will have to use "11.0". If you have a mix of Outlook clients in your organization, just duplicate the lines for all three versions of the Outlook:

  1. Import the registry file and restart Outlook.
  2. Schedule a new appointment or create a new meeting request - you should be presented with the form you have created:

  1. Now the hard part is to distribute the registry settings to the clients. Possible approaches would be either adding the registry settings import to logon script (if all the users have one) or distributing the settings using login script in GPO applied to all your users.

That’s all folks.

Links

How to make a Microsoft Outlook custom form the default

How to Create an Organizational Forms Library in Exchange - 244591



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