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Sync Outlook Tasks with Access 2007

Posted on 2008-11-08
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I need to sync my Outlook tasks with a table in Access 2007. It seems that importing the tasks folder doesn't work. I don't have much expertise in creating macros or modules in Access, so I would appreciate if you walk me through step-by-step what I need to do if it does require that.

I have seen examples of how to do this in earlier versions of Access, but either it doesn't work in 2007 or I just don't understand how to implement it correctly.
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Question by:Kezzas2
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by:Jeffrey Coachman
ID: 22916037
Kezzas2,

You can "Link" the Outlook Tasks into Access, but for some strange reason none of the tsak info will come through (Just the Task Owner)

So this may be worthless to you.

Here are the steps anyway.
Open Access 2007
Click the "External Data" chunk
Click "More"
Select: Outlook Folder
Click: Link to date source...
Expand Personal Folders
Select: Tasks
Click: Next
Click:Finish


JeffCoachman
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by:David Lee
ID: 22916443
Hi, Kezzas2.

Are you looking for a true sync, where changes made to either side are propagated to the other, or just a copy (i.e. the tasks in Outlook are copied to Access)?  
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by:Kezzas2
ID: 22916570
Yes, I'll need changes on either side to propagate to the other.
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by:David Lee
ID: 22916871
Then boag2000's solution is the best, if it works properly.  I haven't played with that for a long time, but I seem to remember that it doesn't copy all the task's properties.  A scripted solution is possible, but it's a bit of a challenge.  The difficulty is sorting out when changes were made to a given item in case that item was changed at both ends, and matching a task in Access to its counterpart in Outlook.  Outlook does not assign a globally unique key to items.  It does create a unique key, but the key is only unique for the message store.  If the item is moved out of the message store and then back in, it will get a new key value.  The former issue requires a fair amount of programming to handle.  The latter is simpler to solve, but does require some work.
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Kezzas2 earned 0 total points
ID: 22916926
Unfortunately linking to the tasks folder doesn't display any of the task info. As boag2000 mentioned, it only displays the task owner. I need to be able to view and add the meaningful information about the task (subject, details, due date).

Is there a way to link the Outlook tasks to a Sharepoint list? Would that be easier?
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by:David Lee
David Lee earned 400 total points
ID: 22916983
"Is there a way to link the Outlook tasks to a Sharepoint list? Would that be easier?"
Yes, that would be easier.  I'm not a Sharepoint expert though, so I can't tell you the steps for doing that.  This page may help though:  http://www.microsoft.com/education/officetasks.mspx
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by:Jeffrey Coachman
ID: 22918154
Kezzas2:,

Just remember that going to SharePoint is a "BIG" step.
It is a new and complex technology.
It also involves an investment in Time and Money to get it up and going.
If your company already uses it, then great.
I don't know if I would invest in SharePoint for just this one issue.
It is not clear if Outlook "exposes" the Task Fields to SharePoint either.

Can you explain what you mean by "Sync Outlook Tasks with Access 2007"?

JeffCoachman
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Author Comment

by:Kezzas2
ID: 22918644
We already have Sharepoint at work, but it looks like the connectivity between Outlook and Sharepoint may be disabled (perhaps for security reasons, or I might not have the appropriate permissions) so I'm not sure whether this will work or not. I will keep investigating, because at this point it looks like Sharepoint would be our best bet.

In response to boag2000 -- I am creating a CRM in Access, and we want to view and create customer-specific tasks when looking at our customer account details. Our coworkers live and breathe by Outlook tasks, so creating a separate tasks table in Access wouldn't be useful unless it could sync with Outlook. This means the following:
* We need the Outlook tasks to be populated into an Access table
* We need a lookup column in this table that identifies the task with a customer ID
* We need to be able to add tasks through a form on Access, which will not only add the task to our table in Access but also to our Outlook tasks.

I would prefer to do this just through scripts on Access, rather than having to make any configuration changes to Outlook, since the CRM will eventually be distributed to everyone in our organization. But I'm open to any suggestions regardless.
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by:David Lee
ID: 22945882
You can do this via scripts, it just isn't simple.  Copying fields or items between Access and Outlook is simple.  Syncing, however, introduces a couple of challenges:

1.  Identifying a specific item in Outlook.  As I noted above, Outlook doesn't create a globally unique ID for each item.  The best solution is to create one yourself.  That's doable, but requires extra work at the Outlook end.

2.  Journaling changes.  A true sync routine has to be capable of determining what changed and when the change occurred in order to resolve conflicts.  For example, an item is changed in both Outlook and Access between syncs.  When the next sync occurs there's a conflict.  Do the Outlook changes trump the Access changes or vice versa?  If you know what changed, i.e. which field(s), and when those changes took place, then the syncing routine has a better chance of resolving the conflict without risking the loss of data.

3.  Detecting deletions.  Adds and changes are relatively easy to detect.  Deletes are more of a problem.  Adds are detected by searching for an item with a given unique key at the other end.  If a match isn't found, then the item must be new.  Changes are even easier.  Outlook stamps a date on an item when it changes and Access can do the same.  If the date stamp is greater than the last sync, then the item has changed.  This is where point #2 comes into play: determining what changed.  Deletes are a problem because they look like adds.  An item exists at one end but not the other, just like an add.  
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