How to: Extract an entity from an email message by using EWS in Exchange

Learn how to extract information from the body of an email message by using the EWS Managed API or EWS in Exchange.

Last modified: March 09, 2015

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

In this article
Extract all entities from an email by using the EWS Managed API
Extract all entities from an email by using EWS
Additional resources

You can use the EWS Managed API or EWS to access the addresses, contacts, email addresses, meeting suggestions, phone numbers, tasks, and URLs that an Exchange server extracts from email messages. You can then use this information for new applications or to suggest follow up actions in existing applications. For example, if a contact entity, meeting suggestion, or task suggestion is identified in an email, your application can suggest that a new item with prepopulated information be created. By using extracted entities, you can capitalize on the intent behind the data — and help users seamlessly integrate their email message content into actionable results.

Entity extraction for addresses, contacts, email addresses, meeting suggestions, phone numbers, tasks, and URLs is already built in to every item in the Exchange store. If you're using the EWS Managed API, the Item.EntityExtractionResult property retrieves the entities for you in an Item.Bind method call. If you're using EWS, the EntityExtractionResult element gets all the extracted entities for you in a GetItem operation call. After you retrieve the results of the extracted entities, you can walk through each entity collection to gather pertinent information. For example, if a meeting suggestion was extracted, you can retrieve the suggested meeting subject, attendee list, start time, and end time.

Table 1.   EWS Managed API properties and EWS elements that contain extracted entities

Because entity extraction relies on natural language recognition, the recognition of entities can be non-deterministic and success sometimes relies on the context. To demonstrate how natural language recognition works, the examples in this article use the following email as input.

From: Ronnie Sturgis

To: Sadie Daniels

Subject: Dinner party

Hi Sadie

Are you free this Friday at 7 to join us for a dinner party at our house?

We're at 789 International Blvd, St Paul MN 55104.

Our number is 612-555-0158 if you have trouble finding it.

Please RSVP to either myself or Mara (mara@contoso.com) before Friday morning. Best for you organics (http://www.bestforyouorganics.com) will be catering so we can fully enjoy ourselves!

Also, can you forward this to Magdalena? I don't have her contact information.

See you then!

Ronnie

The following code example shows how to display all the entities extracted by the server, by using the Item.Bind method, and then enumerating through each of the extracted entities and their properties.

This example assumes that service is a valid ExchangeService object, and that ItemId is the Id of the email message to move or copy.

public static void ExtractEntities(ExchangeService service, ItemId ItemId)
{

    // Create a property set that limits the properties returned 
    // by the Bind method to only those that are required.
    PropertySet propSet = new PropertySet(BasePropertySet.IdOnly, ItemSchema.EntityExtractionResult);

    // Get the item from the server.
    // This method call results in an GetItem call to EWS.
    Item item = Item.Bind(service, ItemId, propSet);

    Console.WriteLine("The following entities have been extracted from the message:");
    Console.WriteLine(" ");

    // If address entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
    if (item.EntityExtractionResult != null)
    {


        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.Addresses != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------Addresses---------------------------");
            foreach (AddressEntity address in item.EntityExtractionResult.Addresses)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Address: {0}", address.Address);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }

        // If contact entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.Contacts != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------Contacts----------------------------");
            foreach (ContactEntity contact in item.EntityExtractionResult.Contacts)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Addresses:       {0}", contact.Addresses);
                Console.WriteLine("Business name:   {0}", contact.BusinessName);
                Console.WriteLine("Contact string:  {0}", contact.ContactString);
                Console.WriteLine("Email addresses: {0}", contact.EmailAddresses);
                Console.WriteLine("Person name:     {0}", contact.PersonName);
                Console.WriteLine("Phone numbers:   {0}", contact.PhoneNumbers);
                Console.WriteLine("URLs:            {0}", contact.Urls);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }

        // If email address entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.EmailAddresses != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------Email addresses---------------------");
            foreach (EmailAddressEntity email in item.EntityExtractionResult.EmailAddresses)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Email addresses: {0}", email.EmailAddress);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }

        // If meeting suggestion entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.MeetingSuggestions != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------Meeting suggestions-----------------");
            foreach (MeetingSuggestion meetingSuggestion in item.EntityExtractionResult.MeetingSuggestions)
            {

                Console.WriteLine("Meeting subject:  {0}", meetingSuggestion.Subject);
                Console.WriteLine("Meeting string:   {0}", meetingSuggestion.MeetingString);
                foreach (EmailUserEntity attendee in meetingSuggestion.Attendees)
                {
                    Console.WriteLine("Attendee name:    {0}", attendee.Name);
                    Console.WriteLine("Attendee user ID: {0}", attendee.UserId);
                }
                Console.WriteLine("Start time:       {0}", meetingSuggestion.StartTime);
                Console.WriteLine("End time:         {0}", meetingSuggestion.EndTime);
                Console.WriteLine("Location:         {0}", meetingSuggestion.Location);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }

        // If phone number entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.PhoneNumbers != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------Phone numbers-----------------------");
            foreach (PhoneEntity phone in item.EntityExtractionResult.PhoneNumbers)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Original phone string:  {0}", phone.OriginalPhoneString);
                Console.WriteLine("Phone string:           {0}", phone.PhoneString);
                Console.WriteLine("Type:                   {0}", phone.Type);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }

        // If task suggestion entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.TaskSuggestions != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------Task suggestions--------------------");
            foreach (TaskSuggestion task in item.EntityExtractionResult.TaskSuggestions)
            {
                foreach (EmailUserEntity assignee in task.Assignees)
                {
                    Console.WriteLine("Assignee name:    {0}", assignee.Name);
                    Console.WriteLine("Assignee user ID: {0}", assignee.UserId);
                }
                Console.WriteLine("Task string:      {0}", task.TaskString);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }

        // If URL entities are extracted from the message, print the results.
        if (item.EntityExtractionResult.Urls != null)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("--------------------URLs--------------------------------");
            foreach (UrlEntity url in item.EntityExtractionResult.Urls)
            {
                Console.WriteLine("URL: {0}", url.Url);
            }
            Console.WriteLine(" ");
        }
    }

    // If no entities are extracted from the message, print the result.
    else if (item.EntityExtractionResult == null)
    {
        Console.WriteLine("No entities extracted");
    }
}

The following output is displayed on the console.

The following entities have been extracted from the message:
 
--------------------Addresses---------------------------
Address: 789 International Blvd, St Paul MN 55104
 
--------------------Contacts----------------------------
Addresses:       
Business name:   
Contact string:  Mara (mara@contoso.com)
Email addresses: mara@contoso.com
Person name:     Mara
Phone numbers:   
URLs:            
 
--------------------Email addresses---------------------
Email addresses: mara@contoso.com
 
--------------------Meeting suggestions-----------------
Meeting subject:  dinner party
Meeting string:   Are you free this Friday at 7 to join us for a dinner party at our house?
Attendee name:    Ronnie Sturgis
Attendee user ID: ronnie@contoso.com
Attendee name:    Sadie Daniels
Attendee user ID: sadie@cntoso.com
Start time:       10/1/0104 2:00:00 PM
End time:         10/1/0104 2:30:00 PM
Location:         
 
--------------------Phone numbers-----------------------
Original phone string:  612-555-0158
Phone string:           6125550158
Type:                   Unspecified
 
--------------------Task suggestions--------------------
Assignee name:    Sadie Daniels
Assignee user ID: sadie@contoso.com
Task string:      Also, can you forward this to Magdalena?
 
--------------------URLs--------------------------------
URL: http://www.bestforyouorganics.com

Notice that all addresses, contacts, email addresses, phone numbers, tasks, and URLs were extracted as expected. The meeting suggestion, however, is a bit more complex. Notice the start time and end time of the meeting suggestion are not what you might expect. The start time in the email is "this Friday at 7", but the extracted value for the start time is 10/1/0104 2:00:00 PM. This is because the start time and end time extracted by the server are encoded dates. For more information about how to interpret dateTime values in meeting suggestions, see [MS-OXCEXT]: Client Extension Message Object Protocol.

The following code example shows how to use the GetItem operation and the EntityExtractionResult element to retrieve the extracted entities from an item.

This is also the XML request that is sent by the EWS Managed API when you use the Bind method to Extract all entities from an email by using the EWS Managed API.

The value of the ItemId element is shortened for readability.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<soap:Envelope xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
               xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages"
               xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types"
               xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <soap:Header>
    <t:RequestServerVersion Version="Exchange2013" />
  </soap:Header>
  <soap:Body>
    <m:GetItem>
      <m:ItemShape>
        <t:BaseShape>IdOnly</t:BaseShape>
        <t:AdditionalProperties>
          <t:FieldURI FieldURI="item:EntityExtractionResult" />
        </t:AdditionalProperties>
      </m:ItemShape>
      <m:ItemIds>
        <t:ItemId Id="sVC5AAA=" />
      </m:ItemIds>
    </m:GetItem>
  </soap:Body>
</soap:Envelope>

The server responds to the GetItem request with a GetItemResponse message that includes a ResponseCode value of NoError, which indicates that the email message was retrieved successfully. The response also includes the EntityExtractionResult for each extracted entity.

The value of the ItemId element is shortened for readability.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<s:Envelope xmlns:s="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">
  <s:Header>
    <h:ServerVersionInfo MajorVersion="15"
                         MinorVersion="0"
                         MajorBuildNumber="883"
                         MinorBuildNumber="10"
                         Version="V2_10"
                         xmlns:h="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types"
                         xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types"
                         xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"
                         xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" />
  </s:Header>
  <s:Body xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
          xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
    <m:GetItemResponse xmlns:m="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/messages"
                       xmlns:t="http://schemas.microsoft.com/exchange/services/2006/types">
      <m:ResponseMessages>
        <m:GetItemResponseMessage ResponseClass="Success">
          <m:ResponseCode>NoError</m:ResponseCode>
          <m:Items>
            <t:Message>
              <t:ItemId Id="sVC5AAA="
                        ChangeKey="CQAAABYAAAD32nSTjepyT63rYH17n9THAAAOOqJN" />
              <t:EntityExtractionResult>
                <t:Addresses>
                  <t:AddressEntity>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:Address>789 International Blvd, St Paul MN 55104</t:Address>
                  </t:AddressEntity>
                </t:Addresses>
                <t:MeetingSuggestions>
                  <t:MeetingSuggestion>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:Attendees>
                      <t:EmailUser>
                        <t:Name>Ronnie Sturgis</t:Name>
                        <t:UserId>ronnie@contoso.com</t:UserId>
                      </t:EmailUser>
                      <t:EmailUser>
                        <t:Name>Sadie Daniels</t:Name>
                        <t:UserId>sadie@contoso.com</t:UserId>
                      </t:EmailUser>
                    </t:Attendees>
                    <t:Subject>dinner party</t:Subject>
                    <t:MeetingString>Are you free this Friday at 7 to join us for a dinner party at our house?</t:MeetingString>
                    <t:StartTime>0104-10-01T19:00:00Z</t:StartTime>
                    <t:EndTime>0104-10-01T19:30:00Z</t:EndTime>
                  </t:MeetingSuggestion>
                </t:MeetingSuggestions>
                <t:TaskSuggestions>
                  <t:TaskSuggestion>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:TaskString>Also, can you forward this to Magdalena?</t:TaskString>
                    <t:Assignees>
                      <t:EmailUser>
                        <t:Name>Sadie Daniels</t:Name>
                        <t:UserId>sadie@contoso.com</t:UserId>
                      </t:EmailUser>
                    </t:Assignees>
                  </t:TaskSuggestion>
                </t:TaskSuggestions>
                <t:EmailAddresses>
                  <t:EmailAddressEntity>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:EmailAddress>mara@contoso.com</t:EmailAddress>
                  </t:EmailAddressEntity>
                </t:EmailAddresses>
                <t:Contacts>
                  <t:Contact>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:PersonName>Mara</t:PersonName>
                    <t:EmailAddresses>
                      <t:EmailAddress>mara@contoso.com</t:EmailAddress>
                    </t:EmailAddresses>
                    <t:ContactString>Mara (mara@contoso.com</t:ContactString>
                  </t:Contact>
                </t:Contacts>
                <t:Urls>
                  <t:UrlEntity>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:Url>http://www.bestforyouorganics.com</t:Url>
                  </t:UrlEntity>
                </t:Urls>
                <t:PhoneNumbers>
                  <t:Phone>
                    <t:Position>LatestReply</t:Position>
                    <t:OriginalPhoneString>612-555-0158</t:OriginalPhoneString>
                    <t:PhoneString>6125550158</t:PhoneString>
                    <t:Type>Unspecified</t:Type>
                  </t:Phone>
                </t:PhoneNumbers>
              </t:EntityExtractionResult>
            </t:Message>
          </m:Items>
        </m:GetItemResponseMessage>
      </m:ResponseMessages>
    </m:GetItemResponse>
  </s:Body>
</s:Envelope>

Notice that all addresses, contacts, email addresses, phone numbers, tasks, and URLs were extracted as expected. The meeting suggestion, however, is a bit more complex. Notice the start time and end time of the meeting suggestion are not what you might expect. The start time in the email was "this Friday at 7", but the extracted value for the start time is 10/1/0104 2:00:00 PM. This is because the start time and end time extracted by the server are encoded dates. For more information about interpreting dateTime values in meeting suggestions, see [MS-OXCEXT]: Client Extension Message Object Protocol.

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