Miscellaneous Exchange Geekery

As a way to soften the impact of returning to the office and having to deal with a number of pending issues (plus an internal workshop that took up most of my morning), I took some time at the end of the day to give Evolution and the Ximian Connector for Exchange another shot.

Took me all of 5 minutes to get it working after a colleague (well-versed in WebDAV and the arcane art of tcpdump and netcat) figured out we had a non-standard mailbox URL.

Well, make that almost working. Mail, tasks and notes work (note support is pretty shitty, by the way), but calendaring is fundamentally broken, and while we have our suspicions, it will take some time to confirm them.

The best news (for me) is that armed with the URL trick, I finally got the Mac OS X Address Book to sync all my contacts with Exchange.

The jury's still out on whether that is a good thing, since I now have all sorts of X.400-like crud instead of some e-mail addresses. Besides, there seems to be a fundamental difference in the way Address Book and Exchange use "work" and "home" e-mail addresses, but I'm not complaining - yet. So far, all my Mac-specific data was preserved correctly, and .Mac syncing works fine alongside it.

I guess it will take a while longer to sort out the kinks, but it looks promising.

Update: I have since confirmed that Entourage can access the Exchange calendar and contacts folders via WebDAV. However, in what I can only call an asinine move on Microsoft's part, tasks and notes are not synchronized with Exchange - and you need LDAP access server to validate addresses against the Global Address List.

So let's summarize this in a table, shall we? Here are some of the ways I can access my Exchange account at this point (or at least carry around some information from it):

|    Client    |  Mail  | Calendar  |     Contacts     | Tasks | Notes | Directory |
| Outlook      |  MAPI  |   MAPI    |       MAPI       | MAPI  |  MAPI |   MAPI    |
| Mail.app     |  IMAP  |   N/A     | via Address Book | N/A   |  N/A  | via LDAP  |
| Address Book |  N/A   |   N/A     | via iSync/WebDAV | N/A   |  N/A  | via LDAP  |
| iCal         |  N/A   |    No     |       N/A        |  No   |  N/A  |   N/A     |
| Entourage    | WebDAV |  WebDAV   |      WebDAV      |  No   |  No   | via LDAP  |
| Evolution    | WebDAV |  WebDav   |      WebDAV      |WebDAV |  Bad  |  WebDAV?  |
| SE Z1010     |  IMAP  | Bluetooth |    Bluetooth     |   ?   |   ?   |    N/A    |
| PocketPC     | AirSync|  AirSync  |     AirSync      |AirSync|AirSync|  AirSync  |
| BlackBerry   |  GPRS  |   GPRS    |       USB        |  USB  |  USB  |   GPRS    |

You will note that there is no out-of-the box solution for Mac OS X that can provide me with mail, calendaring, contacts, tasks and directory access with a single protocol - which is pretty damn wierd, if you ask me. Of course I know about things like Groupcal, but the point is they should not be necessary - especially if you happened to fork out good money for Entourage.

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