Eugene Starostin

Create custom Outlook 2010 view and form programmatically

Dedicated to all persons concerned, and especially to those who hate software branded as BETA :)

Right after publishing our first beta we sent out about two thousand registration keys to everyone who according to our license policy is eligible for free major upgrades. Since then we’ve got some quite positive feedback, but as I see, most of our customers traditionally ignore anything containing the word “beta” in version info. Though, this is no wonder for me, because I am also awfully scared of all sorts of betas ;-)

However, from time to time, I get persistent requests to demonstrate screenshots of our new version for Office 2010. And, as usual, everyone is interested in Outlook 2010 and our advanced regions in the first place. On that occasion, last week we did update our pages about Outlook regions and Office task panes after all. Here are these pages:

An important notice

Before I proceed to show you the regions, I want to make a couple of important remarks. Firstly, please keep in mind that we have 2 betas – Office 2010 Beta and Add-in Express 2010 Beta 1 (though, I believe we are going to have Office 2010 RTM one of these days). Secondly, please be aware that everything you will see here may be redesigned, but changes will be just cosmetic. Thirdly, I persistently want to draw your attention to the fact that the regions presented below implement to the fullest extent all the features described in Advanced Outlook view and form regions – Basic concepts. Finally, please remember that Add-in Express 2010 Beta 1 is published with a certain number of known issues for .net and VCL.

Outlook view and form regions redesigned for Outlook 2010

Here are three screenshots of regions for three main color schemes of Office 2010.

Black color scheme

Regions for Outlook 2010 Black color scheme

Blue color scheme

Regions for Outlook 2010 Blue color scheme

Silver color scheme

Regions for Outlook 2010 Silver color scheme

“Outlook Today surrogates” :)

A quick look at the screenshot below is enough to be confused. Al least, when I saw it for the first time, just one question was on my mind – Where am I?

Sample form in Outlook 2010 (WebViewPane layout)

I guess this is due to the absence of a customary header at the top of the form. In all previous Outlook versions, one glance was enough for me to understand that the active folder is My Folder (in this case). Feel the difference:

Sample form in Outlook 2007 (WebViewPane layout)

Apparently, we’ll have to get used to it. However, I (quite an advanced Office user!!!) sometimes still (it’s been 2 years already since I moved to Office 2007) look for one or another badly and urgently needed button among that stunning variegated multicoloredness of the Ribbon UI :)

Outlook view regions on demand

These regions with rather sophisticated name are, in fact, the same Outlook Today but very carefully hidden from the public eye :)

Accessing Outlook view regions from the Outlook UI

Most popular Outlook view regions

Undoubtedly, the most popular regions are regions over the Outlook SuperGrid. By the way, I always pondered over the usability of these regions. All is clear about the right and bottom regions, they are quite frequently used; the upper sometimes becomes a toolbar (a la Quick Access toolbar – QAT) only for a particular folder(s); as for a disgusting usability of the left region, (the truth is that we created it just through inertia after all the others) it always makes me stunned because I cannot find a use for that region.

Note! In the screenshot below, I just hid the region headers, trying to fit the screenshot into the limited width of this blog’s content pane.

Outlook Explorer view regions

More about creating custom Outlook view regions with Add-in Express.

Extending the Outlook Navigation Pane

Everything is as prosy and commonplace here as before…

Outlook Navigation Pane regions

To-Do Bar and Reading Pane

These regions are still under construction. Frankly speaking, it is not so easy here and we will possibly have to introduce some limitations. In general, stay tuned :) Outlook To-Do Bar and Reading Pane regions are supported in the release of Add-in Express 2010.

Customizing the Outlook Inspector window

Finally, four regions at the sides of the Outlook Inspector window:

Right Outlook Inspector region

I intentionally hid the top, left and bottom regions, on order to… well, for them not to flicker before your eyes :) No cardinal changes here. Though, the fact that we left the Outlook Social Connector pane at the bottom of the form is worth your attention. It is better seen in this screenshot:

Bottom Outlook Inspector region

At last, a region with several custom forms and a header.

A region with several forms and a header

Outlook form regions on demand

Finally, a very thoroughly hidden region implemented for the Outlook Inspector window.

Hidden Outlook region

That’s all for today. Stay tuned – the next station is the Advanced Office task panes in Office 2010.


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