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Custom Outlook Contacts fields and Search options

Posted on 2006-07-14
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Last Modified: 2010-04-08
Hi,

I have a need to create a list of contacts with custom fields. Say, it is a list of subcontractors and custom fields would be their specialty (electrical, concrete, etc.), License number and a few others.

Now, I am thinking that the way to do it would be to create a custom contacts form with those fields.

The question is how to do a convinient search based on those fields and also some standard fields. The Outlook "Find" button from the toolbar is very limited and Ctrl-Shift-F Advanced Find is too "advanced" for my users. Is there a middle ground solution a third-party add-in maybe?

Thank you,

Alex.
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Question by:alex-n-bill
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 17114505
Hi alex-n-bill,

A custom contact form sounds like a good solution.  I'd recommend a pulldown for the specialty, unless there's a need to track multiple specialties for each contractor.  If, so then checkboxes would make more sense.  The search can be accomplished via a custom search form.  I'm not aware of a third-party utility that does this, but there's an excellent list of third-party add-ins at Slipstick.com (http://slipstick.com).

Cheers!
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Author Comment

by:alex-n-bill
ID: 17123384
Thanks for the idea. But could you please be a little more specific about custom search form creation?
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by:David Lee
ID: 17123909
alex-n-bill,

Outlook 2002 and beyond has the ability to create user forms.  A user form is a custom dialog-box.  You could create a custom search dialog-box that would invoke a search in the background.  All that's required is building the form (pretty simple) and writing the script (VBA code) to invoke the search.  
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Author Comment

by:alex-n-bill
ID: 17125906
I created my new contact form. What about the search form -- do I create it from form design or from Visual Basic Editor?

Can you send me to some article or some info about how exactly to do it. Especially in regards to VBA code.

Thanks.
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Accepted Solution

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David Lee earned 2000 total points
ID: 17126080
You'll create the search form in the VB Editor as a userform.  Before creating it you need to decide what fields you plan to search on and whether you'll be searching for single or multiple values in a given field.  Having decide that you can go ahead and build the form, and work out how to construct a search.  If you decide to search fields for a single value, then you have an "and" type search.  Get all records where FieldA="somevalue" And FieldB="somevalue", etc.  If you decide to search any field for multiple values, then you have a mixed search.  Get all records where FieldA="somevalue" And (FieldB="somevalue" Or FieldB="someothervalue").  And type searches are certainly eaiser, both in terms of the search form and the search, but are less useful.  Mixed searches are a bit more comples to put together, but are more useful.  The search itself can be done in several ways.  

1.  Script an advanced search.  Here's a link to a page with samples for that: http://outlookcode.com/search.aspx?text=advanced+search  (The samples are toward the bottom of the page.)

2.  Create a Search Folder on the fly.  I believe this will only work with Outlook 2003.  Here's a link to a previous EE question where I used that approach: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Applications/MS_Office/Outlook/Q_21786890.html

3.  Create a simple search.  This uses the Find or Restrict method of a folder's Items collection to filter out records that don't meet a given set of conditions.  It's the easiest to do, but also the slowest performance wise, and it doesn't give the results back in a display like the other two do.  Typically you use this kind of search behind the scenes to do something, e.g. find all records in a given city and send them all an email.

Outlookcode.com is an excellent resource for scripting/programming Outlook.  I can also recommend a couple of books if you're interested.  
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 17220718
Any update, alex-n-bill?
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Author Comment

by:alex-n-bill
ID: 17224059
Yeah, sorry.

I just returned from vacation -- back to my problems. That seemed like a good answer so I am going to give you the points. It will just take me a while to figure out all the details of those artickles and the book (I have Mosher's book on Outlook programming).

Meanwhile I have another question:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Email_Groupware/Exchange_Server/Q_21939103.html
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 17224104
No problem.  I hope you had a great vacation.  If there'sanything else I can do just let me know.

I'll have a look at the other question.

Cheers!
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