How to: Expand distribution groups by using EWS in Exchange 2013

Learn how to expand a distribution group by using the EWS Managed API or EWS in Exchange.

Last modified: March 07, 2014

Applies to: EWS Managed API | Exchange Online | Exchange Server 2013 | Office 365

In this article
Expand a universal distribution group or security group by using EWS Managed API
Expand a contact group by using EWS Managed API
Expand a universal distribution group or security group by using EWS
Expand a contact group by using EWS
Additional resources

You can use the ExchangeService.ExpandGroup EWS Managed API method or the ExpandDL EWS operation to expand a distribution group to identify all recipients.

Because the ExpandGroup method is overloaded, you can call it in several ways:

The following example shows how to expand a universal distribution group or security group by using an email address, which is the simplest approach. This example assumes that service is a valid ExchangeService object and that the user has been authenticated to an Exchange server.

// Return the expanded group.
   ExpandGroupResults myGroupMembers = service.ExpandGroup("employees@contoso.com");

// Display the group members.
   foreach (EmailAddress address in myGroupMembers.Members)
   {
      Console.WriteLine("Email Address: {0}", address);
   }

That's not a lot of code, but it's also pretty basic and might not give you what you are looking for. So let's take it a step further. Distribution groups can also contain other distribution groups. Simply expanding it will output the email address of the contained distribution groups but not expand them. By adding a few more lines of code, you can recursively expand the groups to output every contact.

private static void ExpandDistributionLists(ExchangeService service, string Mailbox)
{
   // Return the expanded group.
      ExpandGroupResults myGroupMembers = service.ExpandGroup(Mailbox);

   // Display the group members.
      foreach (EmailAddress address in myGroupMembers.Members)
      {
         // Check to see if the mailbox is a public group
         if (address.MailboxType == MailboxType.PublicGroup)
      {
         // Call the function again to expand the contained
         // distribution group.
         ExpandDistributionLists(service, address.Address);
      }
      else
      {
         // Output the address of the mailbox.
         Console.WriteLine("Email Address: {0}", address);
      }
   }
}

And now you can call this new function in the your code and expand all the public distribution groups contained within the first one.

ExpandDistributionLists(service, "employees@contoso.com");

Because contact groups do not have an associated email address, you need to expand the group based on the ItemId by using the ExpandGroup(ItemId) method. You can create a function, as shown in the previous example, and change the second parameter type from a string to an ItemId.

private static void ExpandContactGroup(ExchangeService service, ItemId groupID)
{
   // Return the expanded group.
      ExpandGroupResults myGroupMembers = service.ExpandGroup(groupID);

   // Display the group members.
      foreach (EmailAddress address in myGroupMembers.Members)
      {
         if (address.MailboxType == MailboxType.PublicGroup)
         {
            ExpandDistributionLists(service, address.Address);
         }
         else
         {
            Console.WriteLine("Email Address: {0}", address);
         }
      }
}

Now you can call this function by using the Exchange service object and the ItemId of the contact group. Note that the ItemId in the example is shortened for readability.

ExpandContactGroup(service, new ItemId("AAMkADBlY…");

The following example shows the XML request message that is sent from the client to the server when you use the ExpandDL operation. This is also the XML request that the EWS Managed API sends when you use the EWS Managed API to expand a universal distribution group.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/"
               xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
  <soap:Body>
    <ExpandDL xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages"
              xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
      <Mailbox>
        <t:EmailAddress>employees@contoso.com</t:EmailAddress>
      </Mailbox>
    </ExpandDL>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The following example shows the XML response message that is sent from the server to the client. Notice that both mailboxes and universal distribution groups are returned.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<s:Envelope xmlns:s="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
<s:Body xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
     xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
<ExpandDLResponse xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
                      xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
  <ResponseMessages xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages">
    <ExpandDLResponseMessage ResponseClass="Success">
      <ResponseCode>NoError</ResponseCode>
      <DLExpansion IncludesLastItemInRange="true" TotalItemsInView="4">
        <Mailbox xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
          <Name>Sadie Daniels</Name>
          <EmailAddress>sadie@contoso.com</EmailAddress>
          <RoutingType>SMTP</RoutingType>
          <MailboxType>Mailbox</MailboxType>
        </Mailbox>
        <Mailbox xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
          <Name>Alfred Welker</Name>
          <EmailAddress>alfred@contoso.com</EmailAddress>
          <RoutingType>SMTP</RoutingType>
          <MailboxType>Mailbox</MailboxType>
        </Mailbox>
        <Mailbox xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
          <Name>Contoso Sales</Name>
          <EmailAddress>sales@contoso.com</EmailAddress>
          <RoutingType>SMTP</RoutingType>
          <MailboxType>PublicDL</MailboxType>
        </Mailbox>
        <Mailbox xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
          <Name>Contoso Support</Name>
          <EmailAddress>support@contoso.com</EmailAddress>
          <RoutingType>SMTP</RoutingType>
          <MailboxType>PublicDL</MailboxType>
        </Mailbox>
      </DLExpansion>
    </ExpandDLResponseMessage>
  </ResponseMessages>
</ExpandDLResponse>
</s:Body>
</s:Envelope>

Unlike when you use the EWS Managed API, when you use EWS to expand a universal distribution group, you can't recursively expand the distribution groups that are returned. You will need to send an additional request to expand each of the distribution groups included in the response.

The XML request to expand a contact group is similar to a request to expand a distribution group. Instead of an email address, you use the ItemId of the contact group. The ItemId in this example is shortened for readability.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/"
               xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
  <soap:Body>
    <ExpandDL xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages"
              xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
      <Mailbox>
         <ItemId xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types" Id="AAMkADBlY…" />
      </Mailbox>
    </ExpandDL>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The structure of the XML response to a request to expand a contact group is the same as the response to a request to expand a universal distribution group.

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