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Developing a Real Outlook Social Connector

Office 2010

Last modified: January 22, 2011

Applies to: Office 2010 | Outlook 2010 | Visual Studio

This section contains a set of four Visual How Tos that shows how to develop a real provider for the Microsoft Outlook Social Connector (OSC) by using the OSC Provider Proxy Library.

An OSC provider allows Outlook users to view, in the People Pane, an aggregation of social information updates that are applied on a professional or social network site. An OSC provider is a Component Object Model (COM) DLL. The OSC provider extensibility interfaces form the medium through which the OSC and an OSC provider communicate. OSC provider extensibility consists of a set of interfaces that is available as an open platform. These interfaces allow the OSC to access social network data in a way that is independent of the APIs of each social network. An OSC provider obtains social network data from the corresponding social network and, through implementing the extensibility interfaces, feeds that social network data to the OSC.

The OSC Provider Proxy Library simplifies the implementation of the OSC provider extensibility interfaces. Instead of a provider explicitly implementing the OSC provider extensibility interfaces, the proxy library implements them, to call a set of abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library. A provider, in turn, overrides this set of abstract and virtual methods with the business logic specific to the social network, to return social network data that the OSC requires.

To show how a provider can use the OSC Provider Proxy Library, this set of Visual How Tos describes a real provider for OfficeTalk. OfficeTalk is a social network in a private corporate environment and is not publicly available. Nonetheless, it is a good example of the kind of social network that you might want to develop a custom OSC provider for. You can use the procedures for creating the OSC provider for OfficeTalk to create a custom OSC provider for any social network.

Part 1: Developing a Real Outlook Social Connector Provider by Using a Proxy Library

This Visual How To describes how to create an OSC provider for OfficeTalk as a Visual Studio solution. It describes how to obtain and add the OSC Provider Proxy Library to the solution. It explains a few helper methods, and shows how to override a few core abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library to obtain information about the provider (including capabilities and requirements) and the logged-on user.

Part 2: Getting Friends Information by Using the Proxy Library for Outlook Social Connector Provider Extensibility

This Visual How To describes a few helper methods and how to override a few abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library to obtain social network data about friends.

Part 3: Getting Activities Information by Using the Proxy Library for Outlook Social Connector Provider Extensibility

This Visual How To describes a few helper methods and how to override a few abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library to obtain social network data about activities.

Part 4: Building an Installation Package for a Real Outlook Social Connector Provider

This Visual How To describes the steps to create an installation package for the OSC provider.

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