The Best Open Source Email & Collaboration Software

English English down

Improving the Outlook experience for users: Automated patching of the Zarafa client

In this blog post, I would like to give you a preview of a feature that was just released in our latest beta (7.1.10): 'Automatic patching of the Zarafa client for Outlook'. This new mechanism should solve one of the biggest annoyances that customers have: the need for new clients when Outlook is updated.

The Zarafa client: Compatibility to Outlook powered by MAPI

Zarafa offers a client to connect Outlook to a ZCP server. The best thing is that the connection uses the native MAPI protocol for this, as you may know. The job of the Zarafa client is to enable advanced collaboration features. Some examples of these features are: "Opening shared calendars from Outlook menu ribbon" and "Private items support (hides private items)". A complete overview can be found on our wiki. The advanced collaboration features make the Outlook experience complete.

So, what's the problem in the current situation?

Like I have explained in the previous paragraph, we have chosen to make Zarafa compatible to OL by using a native solution. And while this ensures the user of a great OL experience, there's also one catch. Every time when Microsoft pushes updates for Outlook, we also need to update the client. These update also cause some side effects: 1. Users cannot make use of the advance collaboration features and 2. Outlook will show one or more pop-ups to the users. We are eager to improve this situation.

The current ‘fix’ and why we think it can be done better

The present solution is quite simple: Microsoft pushes out updates, we create our patches for the Zarafa client, test and release them. However, as you will notice, lots of manual steps are involved. In the meantime, users will experience problems and IT departments need to step in to support users and roll-out the patched Zarafa clients when they are available.

How ZCP 7.1.10 will eliminate these Outlook update issues

In the last months, we have been researching various solutions that could make manual labour unnecessary in the future. We believe that the 'Automatic patching of the Zarafa client' is the smartest way to accomplish our goal. Let me explain - from a 10.000 feet view - how it will work: A user will connect to Outlook with the Zarafa client. The Zarafa client will notice that the Outlook version is updated and thus not yet supported. A patch (for the Zarafa client) is necessary to re-enable the advanced collaboration features. The new mechanism will take care on the patch 'on-the-fly'. Everything is done at the client's side; no server is involved.

The first real-life tests at partners look promising. We are very excited with this next step in our compatibility to enterprise software like MS Outlook. We are looking forward to hear feedback from you. Questions or sign-ups for a beta; all is more than welcome! Just leave a comment below.


Share:

Comments

ZCP 7.1.0 client-side updating

"Everything is done at the client's side; no server is involved".
Does this mean, the client must have internet connection all over the time? This would be critical in governmental environments!

I suppose the update will work with system rights, so the user must not have local admin rights.
(mk)

Great feature

Hi, this seems to be a really nice and needed feature for seamless MS Integration. Looking forward to the final realease! Thank you for the Information.
lle

MS Outlook for Windows

Zarafa always talks about MS Outlook as if it were 'any version'. However it would be good to note that support is limited to MS Outlook for Windows. The Mac version for MS Outlook is not in scope, nor does Zarafa have native support for OSXs default client Mail.app. Being a Mac user, only the webmail client allows me to get to public folders, calendars of my colleagues and such.

advance collaboration features

You state that a complete overview about the advanced collaboration features can be found on the wiki. Can you name the specific page, as I didn't manage to find it.

Thanks.

Answers on questions (from Zarafa)

Hi guys,

Thanks for the likes and interest. Question from my side: did you already installed the 7.1.10 on your systems? If yes; what are your experiences so far?

Let me answer your questions:

@ Comment #1:
"Does this mean, the client must have internet connection all over the time? This would be critical in governmental environments!"

> Yes, we understand. To answer your question; NO, there's no internet connection or whatsoever necessary to make use of the "auto-patching" feature. The updated client is build to recognize changes in the Outlook instance and will intelligently apply an update.

"I suppose the update will work with system rights, so the user must not have local admin rights."

> Yes, your assumption is right; no admin rights needed.

@Comment 4:
"You state that a complete overview about the advanced collaboration features can be found on the wiki. Can you name the specific page, as I didn't manage to find i"

> Of course. Please take a look here: http://www.zarafa.com/wiki/index.php/Zarafa_Outlook_2010_Support. The specific features are just beneath the table with Outlook versions. I hope this helps.

Cheers, LG
Zarafa

Post new comment

 

Jobs at Zarafa

View zarafa tour 2013 video

Zarafa customers