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Author Topic: FARR alias: Quick Outlook Task  (Read 52291 times)
jpijper
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« on: July 25, 2008, 12:57:22 PM »

I use Outlook tasks quite a lot, for serious tasks, to-do lists, but also quick reminders. Today I stumbled across "QuickOutlookTask", a small command-line utility that allows you to quickly add an Outlook task. You simply type something like "do new outlook task" (command line, or Windows Run) and this creates a new Outlook task with subject "new outlook task". Outlook needn't even be running. See http://www.megalab.it/articoli.php?id=1288.

Well, a couple of days ago I discovered FARR and quickly fell in love with it (kudos, mouser Thmbsup) and I wanted to have this through FARR. So I wrapped this functionality in a FARR alias, and this is my attempt to pass it on to you.

Please extract the files in the zip-file to AliasGroups\Installed in your FindAndRunRobot installation folder. You should now have a FARR alias "do" and should be able to create an Outlook task by hitting your FARR hotkey and then typing "do something" (sans quotes). I  hope I am doing this right, because I am new to this game.

PLEASE NOTE:  The latest version of QuickOutlookTast is available at http://jpijper.dcmembers.com.
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lanux128
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2008, 07:16:19 PM »

nice work, jpijper. try to add a screenshot so that mouser can list this on Farr's addon page. smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 07:21:58 PM »

It would be nice to include a readme with brief instructions and pointing people to the original location of the dll and do.exe files.
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Armando
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2008, 12:31:07 AM »

Nice. I was using these, before... But I'll try this way too as it might be more efficient.  thumbs up
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Armando
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2008, 12:52:33 AM »

What I did to make it work :

1- I only used the "Quick Outlook tasks" folder found in the archive -- not the 2 other folders (I'm not sure why they were included -- they should probably be removed).

2- I extracted (dragged and drop) this "Quick Outlook tasks" folder in :

%your program files folder%\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\MyCustom\

So that it looks like (in my system):

C:\Program Files\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\MyCustom\QuickOutlookTask

3- Should one restart farr after that...? Farr crashed here... But when I restarted it, the alias worked as expected!  thumbs up

so

[copy or print]
do my favorite task

created a task called.... my favorite task

Now, this thing doesn't seem to be open source, but it would have been nice if it was possible to add other info (comma or semicolon separated, maybe) like : task; priority; multiple categories; etc.
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"I suppose it can be said that I'm an absent-minded driver. It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it."
Glenn Gould
jpijper
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2008, 01:35:18 AM »

What I did to make it work :

1- I only used the "Quick Outlook tasks" folder found in the archive -- not the 2 other folders (I'm not sure why they were included -- they should probably be removed).

2- I extracted (dragged and drop) this "Quick Outlook tasks" folder in :

%your program files folder%\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\MyCustom\

So that it looks like (in my system):

C:\Program Files\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\MyCustom\QuickOutlookTask

3- Should one restart farr after that...? Farr crashed here... But when I restarted it, the alias worked as expected!  thumbs up

so

[copy or print]
do my favorite task

created a task called.... my favorite task

Now, this thing doesn't seem to be open source, but it would have been nice if it was possible to add other info (comma or semicolon separated, maybe) like : task; priority; multiple categories; etc.

I'm glad you got it to work Armando!

Ad 1. What other two folders do you mean? In the archive there is only the QuickOutlookTask folder and one subfolder for the icon.

Ad 2. Extracting to the Custom folder also works, yes - it means you can edit the alias if you want.

Ad 3. I don't know enough about FARR to know if FARR should be restarted. It may be that FARR only reads the pre-installed aliases at program start and in that case it should be restarted. Maybe Mouser could give us a "Reload all Aliases" button as there is for the plugins.

And yes, I would also like to be able to give some more info, as you suggest, including the date and if a reminder should be set, but this is all that the do.exe application allows, as far as I know. Maybe I'll try to write a small application myself that will allow this. That would be fun, but I will have to find the time - I have never interacted with Outlook from a program before.
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jpijper
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2008, 03:51:51 AM »

This is a small update of the QuickOutlookTask alias:

1. The zip-file now contains a readme file.
2. The DOS window no longer flashes across the screen when the alias is used, thanks to the /WINHID parameter thoughtfully provided by mouser  smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2008, 07:24:09 AM »

Great.. very helpful.
As Armano says you've got some empty folders in your zip file.. not sure what zip program you are using to create the archive but this screenshot shows contents of zip file:

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jpijper
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2008, 08:31:56 AM »

I am using WinZip 9 and I do not see any empty folders in the archive. I don't know what is happening. What zip program had I better use? And how do I get images displayed here embarassed
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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2008, 08:44:40 AM »

winzip is perfectly fine.  something else must be going on.
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Armando
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2008, 02:42:46 PM »

Something is definitely going on...  smiley
I still get three folders (2 with nothing valuable...) in your archive when I open it in various programs like 7-Zip, WinRar and WinZip.
I tried creating the archive myself and it's fine.
So here's one with the Readme file (created with 7-zip). Does it show only one folder ?
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 10:21:50 AM by mouser » Logged

"I suppose it can be said that I'm an absent-minded driver. It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it."
Glenn Gould
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2008, 01:41:00 AM »

Thanks Armando. I admit I am mystified. When loaded into my copy of winzip both files look the same to me, but I installed 7-zip and there I see the empty folders. So here is the zip file once more, hopefully without empty folders and with the correct version of the alias file.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 10:22:00 AM by mouser » Logged
Armando
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2008, 12:22:15 PM »

Yup! that works well!  Grin

BTW, thanks again jpijper : it's really nice to see new participants/members to contribute with their time and such useful stuff!  thumbs up
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"I suppose it can be said that I'm an absent-minded driver. It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it."
Glenn Gould
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2008, 12:59:27 PM »


And yes, I would also like to be able to give some more info, as you suggest, including the date and if a reminder should be set, but this is all that the do.exe application allows, as far as I know. Maybe I'll try to write a small application myself that will allow this. That would be fun, but I will have to find the time - I have never interacted with Outlook from a program before.


/rant
All is quite fine and dandy with outlook until you need interaction with MAPI and encryption/decryption. There are actually two versions of MAPI (Simple and Extended). Simple is supported by everything and their grandmother...Extended is only supported by Outlook. You will spend days if not weeks to find conflicting answers on MSDN, blogs from their members and other (obscure) support channels that are contradictory at best.

MAPI is the Microsoft translation for the word hell!
/rant

Looks like a very interesting Alias you have created here  smiley
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jpijper
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2008, 11:18:04 PM »

/rant
All is quite fine and dandy with outlook until you need interaction with MAPI and encryption/decryption. There are actually two versions of MAPI (Simple and Extended). Simple is supported by everything and their grandmother...Extended is only supported by Outlook. You will spend days if not weeks to find conflicting answers on MSDN, blogs from their members and other (obscure) support channels that are contradictory at best.

MAPI is the Microsoft translation for the word hell!
/rant


You make this sound very attractive smiley
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jpijper
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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2008, 12:08:11 PM »

This is an updated version of the Quick Outlook Task alias. I have written my own version of do.exe and it is now possible to set various properties of the task to be created: due date, start date, priority, reminder time and category.

Summary
-------
QuickOutlookTask defines an alias for use with Find and Run Robot(FARR),
a quick-launch application for Microsoft Windows - see http://www.donationcoder..../Software/Mouser/findrun/.

The alias makes it possible to quickly create a new task in Microsoft Outlook.

Installation
------------
To install, extract the files in the archive to the following folder:
C:\Program Files\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\Installed\

This will create the following two folders:
C:\Program Files\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\Installed\QuickOutlookTask
C:\Program Files\FindAndRunRobot\AliasGroups\Installed\QuickOutlookTask\icons

After this, start or restart FARR and a new alias "do" is now available.

Usage
-----
To use the alias, hit your FARR hotkey (usually Break/Pause) and then type
something like:    do This is an outlook task
This creates a new Outlook task for today with subject "This is an outlook task".

The following switches are available to set other properties of the task:

/d or /duedate or /due or /date - The due date of the task: the date when the task should be finished (e.g. tomorrow)
/s or /startdate or /start      - The start date of the task (e.g. today)
/p or /priority or /importance  - The priority of the task (normal, high, or low)
/r or /reminder or /rem         - The reminder time for the task (e.g. 16:00)
/c or /category or /cat         - The category to which the task is assigned

Dates can be given as a string that the system will try to recognize. Which strings are
recognized depends on your regional settings ("culture"). For instance, if you are
in the United States, the system will recognize strings like "7/28/2008" and "7/28".
However, if you are in the Netherlands, these strings should look like "28-7-2008" and "28-7".

The program also allows a few shortcuts. It will recognize the strings "today" and "tomorrow",
as well as the names of the days of the week and their three-letter abbreviations:
sun or sunday, mon or monday, tue or tuesday, etcetera.

Examples
--------

do Buy flowers for husband
do Buy flowers for wife /p high
do Buy flowers /d tomorrow /rem 17:30
do Buy flowers /d fri /cat Love
do Paint house /start today /due 12-12

Files
-----
The archive contains the following files:

1. do.exe - The application that does the actual work, called by the alias.
2. do.ico - The icon shown in FARR - the standard Outlook task icon.
3. Microsoft.Outlook.Interop.Outlook.dll - A Microsoft DLL that allows do.exe to
   work with Outlook.
4. QuickOutlookTask.alias - An XML file containing the definition of the alias.
5. Readme.txt - This readme file.

Notes
-----
1. This alias works with Windows XP and Outlook 2003. I don't know about other
   versions.
2. Although Outlook does not need to be running for this to work, it must be
   present on your system.
3. For more information, go to the forum:
   http://www.donationcoder....14208.msg122224#msg122224
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 10:22:10 AM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2008, 12:10:35 PM »

Nice !!  thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up
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jpijper
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2008, 12:15:47 PM »

Thanks, that was a quick response!  Wink
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Armando
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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2008, 01:08:13 PM »

This is very good, jpijper.  Thmbsup

Maybe you could edit your first post to include the latest version in it (so that people don't mistakenly install the older one)?

With all these little tools, farr is becoming the primary interface with which I interact with the different software on my computer!
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Glenn Gould
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2008, 01:11:10 PM »

jpijper would you like web/ftp space on dcmembers.com? then you could upload your always most recent version there instead of with an attachment?
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jpijper
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2008, 03:47:47 PM »

jpijper would you like web/ftp space on dcmembers.com? then you could upload your always most recent version there instead of with an attachment?

Sounds like a good idea mouser. Please explain how this works and I will do that. Thanks.
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jpijper
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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2008, 03:49:52 PM »

This is very good, jpijper.  Thmbsup

Maybe you could edit your first post to include the latest version in it (so that people don't mistakenly install the older one)?

With all these little tools, farr is becoming the primary interface with which I interact with the different software on my computer!

Thanks Armando. Please let me know if you have ideas for additions, changes, whatever. Also bugs, like crashes on wrong input and such.
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mouser
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2008, 05:45:08 PM »

by the way it works GREAT here.  really nice work.
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Armando
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2008, 07:16:08 PM »

It works really great here too.  Thmbsup Thmbsup

If there were (**non essential**) additions, the only thing I see :  more switches for those (like me...) who work with other common task fields, like : mileage, billing, company, contact, etc.

At the same time, maybe would this defeat the primary purpose of that alias (errrr.... plugin???)? : quick task entries... But, contrarily to most users and developers, I'm always for more options and flexibility...  embarassed
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Glenn Gould
jpijper
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« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2008, 02:47:43 PM »

If there were (**non essential**) additions, the only thing I see :  more switches for those (like me...) who work with other common task fields, like : mileage, billing, company, contact, etc.

Especially for Armando and other task freaks, an updated version with every switch I could find, plus the ability to update existing tasks - not much use marking a new task as completed ... Wink

The attached zip file contains only do.exe and the updated readme.txt. I am postponing publishing this update to a wider audience until mouser makes web/ftp space available, and hopefully I have some feedback by that time, so I can eliminate any pesky bugs - I admit I am kind of rushing this out, need to go on with my regular job.

From the readme:

Updating existing tasks
-----------------------

It is not possible to create a task with a subject that already exists. If you try to create
a task with an existing subject, the program assumes that you want to update the existing task
with the new information - but you will be asked for confirmation. Only task properties that you
have given new values for will be changed, the other properties remain as they are.

For instance, if you want to change the priority of the "Paint house a nice bright pink" task in the example above
to "high", you just type "do Paint house a nice bright pink /p high". The program asks you if you
want to update the existing task "Paint house a nice bright pink". If you answer yes, the task is
updated: the priority is changed from "normal" to "high", and the start and due dates remain as
they are. If you answer no, no task is created.

If you find "Paint house a nice bright pink" too long, you could also type "do Paint /p high.".
The program sees that there already is a task that starts with "paint" and asks you if you want
to update the task "Paint house a nice bright pink". If you answer yes, the "Paint house a nice
bright pink" is updated. If you answer no, a new task "Paint" is created.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 10:22:24 AM by mouser » Logged
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