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Introducing the Exchange Server Developer Center

EWS Managed API

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Topic Last Modified: 2008-04-16

By Thom Randolph, Content Publishing Manager

Hello and welcome! If you’ve arrived here for the first time, you’ll notice that things have changed. Over the last year, many developer-focused products from Microsoft have moved to the Developer Center format, and now it’s our turn. As we approach the next major release of Exchange, the Exchange Server SDK team is excited to bring you this new Developer Center.

If you’ve been developing with Exchange for any time at all, you likely know that we’ve updated the official software development kits for Exchange 2000 Server and Exchange Server 2003 for several years now. Frequent and ongoing updates and additions have helped answer many questions that only came up well after the initial product release. We expect to continue updating the Exchange Server SDKs, with our primary focus moving to Exchange 2007. But, the Developer Center will become the hub of all things Exchange developer.

We on the SDK team (more about us later) have always felt that publishing only the “official” SDK was a bit limiting. Over the last six months or so, we’ve been thinking how great it would be—for us AND you—to use other ways to showcase excellent information that doesn’t quite fit into the formal-SDK mold: information coming from other groups in Microsoft, from blogs and forums in the greater Exchange developer community, even from YOU.

The site you’re seeing now is our initial “release” of the Exchange Server Developer Center. We hope you like it, hope you find more of what you’re looking for, return often, and even send us a note telling us how we’re doing (or how we can help even more!).

The biggest difference between what we used to provide and what you’ll see now comes down to “breadth”: a wider variety of presentation styles, a broader spectrum of information sources, a larger set of “voices”, and more frequent updates.

The Developer Center will still live at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/exchange, and will continue to be your entry to the main SDKs. Now we’ll also have monthly featured articles, like this one (but with actual information). Feature articles will bring you things like walkthrough-style introductions to Exchange development technologies, in-depth explorations of Exchange APIs, best practices for designing enterprise-grade Exchange applications, tips, tricks and gotchas, and our favorite, articles that will make you say “Wow! I never knew you could do THAT with Exchange.” And of course, code, code, and more code! We know you want more code samples, need more code samples, and can’t live without more code samples. To fill that need, we’re going to put priority on articles that also give you sample code that you can try out for yourself.

Feature articles are also intended to be a lot more like magazine articles. They won’t be huge 100-page dissertations on the meaning of the MAPI PR_DEF_CREATE_DL property. They will tend to be about 5-10 pages long, on a well-defined topic. They won’t usually be in the formal tone you find in the SDK; they’ll be a bit more like this article. They also won’t all come from the SDK writers. We’re recruiting Exchange product-team program managers, developers, testers, support professionals, and even MVPs to write articles and samples. Indeed, if YOU have something you think would make a great article, or want to write one yourself, definitely contact us. We want to showcase information that is useful for Exchange developers, no matter where it comes from.

Our current thinking is that feature articles will appear, two or three per month, at the top of the DevCenter page. No doubt you clicked on a link in the main DevCenter page to get here. Just below the featured articles are important announcements that don't require a full article (for example, when an update to the main SDK has been posted, or when we’ve added a new blog to our list, or when a new Exchange Service Pack becomes available).

Because we’re only going to show two or three featured articles on the main page, we’ve created an Archive page where you can find all the past articles. We also hope to have those articles available on the MSDN® Library DVDs.

Moving farther down the page, you’ll find the communities area below the announcements section. The left-hand side holds a selection of new and interesting Exchange developer-focused blog postings. The right-hand side holds especially-useful forum and newsgroup threads. A couple of the writers on our team have volunteered to troll the blogs and newsgroups, looking for juicy tidbits for your enjoyment. Personally, I think they just want to get paid to surf the net, but what do I know?

We expect these hand-picked items will get updated every two weeks or so. You might ask why we don’t just automagically grab the latest headlines? Well, we did plan to do that. But, we quickly noticed that many of the Exchange blogs didn’t always cover topics that are important to developers. It’s hard to call it a Developer Center when the current blog posts are about things like anticipating peak network capacity in a heterogeneous continuous cluster replication deployment. Nope, we hope to keep things fresh and on-track with postings about the new Exchange 2007 Web services, transport agents, Windows PowerShell scripts, and topics that are of interest to developers.

While the center of the DevCenter page holds the freshest meat, the left-hand column contains links to useful detail pages. The Reference page is your entry to the MSDN Library areas, and the Exchange SDKs. The Downloads page provides a complete list of the current SDK, Tool, and sample code downloads. Need help? The Support page lists a variety of options. The Community page lists blogs, newsgroups, webcasts and other places to find information and commentary on all things Exchange.

The right-hand side of the DevCenter page provides several groups of quick-access, essential links to things like the most recent downloads, and topic-focused links into the SDKs for things like migrating your applications, and so on. If you’re looking for a featured article that has moved off the front page, you’ll find a link to it on the Archive page.

At this time, we’re just days away from releasing Exchange Server 2007 and the SDK to go with it. So, a lot of the DevCenter might appear like the empty rooms of an unoccupied apartment. Don’t worry, those will fill up as articles are written and we get your feedback about what you want to see highlighted.

Yes, feedback. We want your input. Positive or negative, but preferably in-phase and undamped. Sorry, couldn’t resist a little hardware/EE humor there.

The philosophy driving the DevCenter is to make a place where the SDK team can better and more flexibly supply what our developer community needs. So, use that Feedback page to tell us what you think, how we’re doing, and how we can make the DevCenter better. If you know of a cool Exchange development-related blog, newsgroup, or Web site that we’re not currently watching, let us know. You can always reach us at esdkfb@microsoft.com, but we encourage you to use the content-rating feature, so our bosses also know how we’re doing.

We’ve assembled a small group of talented writers, editors, and site managers to put the DevCenter together, and we’re looking forward to building this site into a growing, active, and interesting place for our developer friends. I can’t thank these people enough: Michelle Fleming Toure, Cathy Anderson, Laura Graham, Ray Dixon, Michael Mainer, Mike Norman, Karen Bass, James Collins, and a whole bunch of others. They’ve all provided insight and guidance and darn good ideas to bring this to reality. I’m Thom Randolph, manager of the writers and editors on the Exchange SDK documentation team, and I’m excited about how our Exchange Server Developer Center is shaping up. We hope you like it too. Visit often, and be sure to tell us what you think!

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