Mail apps for Outlook
This topic first describes a mail app from the end-user's perspective, and shows videos of sample mail apps, including Bing Map, YouTube, and VOIP dialer. It then describes how a mail app interacts with the user on an Outlook client, with an Exchange Server and web server, and the course of events that takes place when the user starts Outlook and selects an item. This topic lists all the conceptual topics about mail apps, and suggests topics for you to get on your way to create mail apps for Outlook, Outlook Web App and OWA for Devices.
Applies to: apps for Office | Office 2013 | Office 365 | Exchange 2013 | Outlook 2013 | Outlook Web App | OWA for Devices
Unless otherwise specified, references to "Outlook" apply to the Outlook 2013 rich client, Outlook Web App for Exchange Server 2013, and OWA for Devices.
A mail app is a webpage that is hosted inside Outlook, activated contextually with respect to the currently selected item to enhance Outlook functionality or browsing experience. Mail apps can run seamlessly across the Outlook rich client, Outlook Web App and OWA for Devices, such that you need to install a mail app only once for a mailbox and it will work on the form factors and Outlook clients that it is designed to.
The Outlook items that support mail apps include email messages, meeting requests, responses or cancellations, or appointments. Each mail app defines the appropriate context for its activation. For example, a mapping mail app can provide a map of an address that appears in the message body, and so having an address in the message body is an appropriate context for Outlook to activate this app.
See the Bing Map mail app in Outlook.
As seen in the preceding video, when the end user is viewing in the Reading Pane (or inspector) a message that contains an address, Outlook activates this mail app for the message. The user sees a Bing Maps app button in the app bar. The user can select the app button to see a map of the address. The mail app then displays a map of the address in the app pane. Figure 1 shows the Bing Map mail app displaying a map for an address in an Outlook message.
To close the app pane, the user can select the app button again, or simply move on to another message or action in Outlook.
This documentation describes two other sample mail apps.
See the YouTube mail app in Outlook.
See the Phone Dialer mail app in Outlook.
Figure 2 shows the sample YouTube mail app.
To try the YouTube mail app, create an email message and add one or more URLs to YouTube videos in the body. When you display the message in the Reading Pane or an inspector, Outlook activates the app. You can then choose the YouTube app button. In the app pane, choose a video thumbnail to select a video, or the YouTube embedded player to play a video.
Figure 3 shows the sample phone dialer mail app.
To try the phone dialer mail app, create an email message and add one or more telephone numbers to the body. When you display the message in the Reading Pane or in an inspector, Outlook activates the app. You can then select the Phone Dialer app button, and select a telephone number in the app pane to use VOIP to dial that number.
This app uses Lync as the VOIP service to dial calls. To run this mail app, you must have access to Lync Server, and have installed the Lync client on the client computer and used it at least once to set it up. You can adapt the code to another VOIP service that supports the same callto: and tel: protocols.
This documentation provides the sample code for these two mail apps. Follow the instructions in How to: Install sample mail apps in Outlook to install them. For more information about these mail apps, see:
The typical components involved in running a mail app include the following:
An Exchange Server: the user’s mailbox and app manifests reside here.
An Outlook client: the user accesses a message or appointment in the Outlook rich client, Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices, on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
Figure 4 shows how the typical components interact with one another when the user starts Outlook and selects a message or appointment.
There are a few topics in which requirements or behavior differs among these client programs. For example, Designing a mail app for Outlook on tablets and mobile devices. Such topics would specifically call out the “Outlook rich client”, “Outlook Web App”, "OWA for Devices" or specific members of the OWA for Devices collection.
The following is a complete list of documentation about developing mail apps for Outlook.
Depending on your purposes, the following tracks suggest topics to help you get on your way.
Seeing mail apps the first time in Outlook
The following topics answer the basic question “What is a mail app?” from both the end user and developer perspectives. They point you to videos of sample mail apps running in Outlook, and also explain the sample code.
Stepping through simple mail apps
The following topics provide step-by-step examples to create simple mail apps, using a text editor and using Visual Studio.
Sample code for common tasks
The following topics provide sample code to achieve common tasks of mail apps in Outlook.
Learning the basics
The following topics cover fundamental information for developing apps for Office in general:
The following topics cover fundamental information for developing mail apps:
FAQ, best practices, known issues
Depending on the development tool you use, web development can entail behavior that is difficult to track. The following topics suggest issues that you should be aware of.
The following topics may help in debugging and troubleshooting mail apps:
Ready for more breadth and depth
Refer to the following topics when you are ready for more details about various features.