Monday, August 06, 2007

What Every User Needs to Know About TrialWorks Add-In and the MSG Conversion.

As previously mentioned in our blog ( the 9.36 release of TrialWorks supports a new e-mail filing feature that no longer depends on Microsoft Exchange Public Folders to file e-mails. We've been getting lots of questions and insight from our users about the change, and I wanted to take a minute to share with you some of the things that your office, your techs, and your users should know about the new feature.

In a nutshell, until version 9.36, the only way TrialWorks filed e-mails was by tagging case information to a message and moving it to the associated Exchange Public Folder. Last year Microsoft announced to do away with the legacy public folder system and introduced new functionality to Exchange 2007 that would boost functionality and completely replace the old-school system. As a side-note, due to the outcry from the Exchange community, Public Folders are still available in Exchange 2007 - but we moved on. So we introduced the Save as MSG function to TrialWorks. MSG is simply the file extension on Outlook Messages saved to the file system, instead of Exchange. They retain their e-mail properties but are saved outside of the e-mail system; Outlook is still used to open them.

  1. First and foremost, users have asked whether the change is necessary. Although we do not require any office to switch to the new Save as MSG format, our future developments of new Outlook E-mail integration are focused on the nonexistence of Public Folders, therefore firms that are still utilizing the legacy system may not benefit from new functionalities available to those that have switched to Save as MSG.

  2. What are the benefits of switching to Save as MSG, apart from future developments? There are several benefits to both users and server administrators, so I rather list them separately:

    Users: More reliable e-mail filing system that works better with larger e-mails (specifically those carrying attachments) and less problems associated with unfiled messages or add-in not loading that users have experienced, especially after the January 2007 Outlook Security Bulletin that affected add-in function. The upgrade to 9.36 coupled with the Save as MSG conversion will resolve outstanding add-in problems that may be a result of not having the latest TrialWorksAddin.DLL or Redemption.DLL (which we made available after the security bulletin).

    Server Administrators: Massive reduction in Exchange resource use as the Exchange Public Folder Store will contain minimal amounts of data. Although the Save as MSG Conversion will not delete the public folders, all server administrators are encouraged to backup exchange and move the existing TrialWorks Public Folder to PST and out of Exchange. The reason for keeping the PST and backup is simply to maintain all precautions. Furthermore, future server migrations will become far easier to manage as the TrialWorks SQL Server-2-Server Migration protocols is reduced to 2 stages, instead of 3.

  3. What practices do you recommend for the migration? It is important to know that the actual Save as MSG Conversion is a 2 step process; the first step involves a check-box in Global Settings and the second is a single-click activation of the conversion process from TrialWorks. However, prior to triggering the migration all IT admins are encouraged to 1) backup exchange server and save the backups 2) backup SQL server and save the backups 3) change settings trigger the conversion 4) review and save the log files 5) disable user access to public folder for a few days 6) move the public folders out of exchange.

  4. What can users expect to see after the migration? The TrialWorks Choose A Case button will remain the same through 9.36, with new functionality in version 9.37 (currently in BETA). However, there are some changes that you should be aware of:

    Outlook Folder Button: no longer displays the Outlook E-Mail Window, instead opens with Windows Folder containing e-mails for that case. That screen does not offer a preview pane or message header information. You are expected to utilize the E-Mail Tab.

    "BackDoor" to Saving E-mails: historically users could Move to Folder any message they chose (or a number of messages) through Outlook. That feature is no longer available. Technically Save As function could be used, but it is too cumbersome. So no backdoor ability.

    Messages Are Now Indexed: As long as your Index Server is running, and it should be, your TrialWorks Catalog will collect all e-mail message information and include it in search results. This makes it possible to search all e-mails within fractions of a second.

    Messages Are Now in Deleted Items: After a message is "filed" to a case, it is also moved to Deleted Items in Outlook. Those messages will remain there for as long as the Deleted Items are not purged. This makes it easy to quickly reference filed messages without having to go to a case. Please remember that those are only COPIES of the messages you filed, but they are available for reference and we have received lots of positive feedback about that feature.

    More reliable E-Mail filing: The new feature resolves various issues since the Microsoft Security Bulletin. Although we addressed them in 9.35 and packed the fix in 9.36, the MSG function helps resolve outstanding problems by default.

    Windows Security Message When Opening E-Mails From TrialWorks: Windows by default will prompt with a security/caution message whenever you double click on an e-mail item in TrialWorks. You can change the behavior by going, inside of Windows Explorer, to Tools > Folder Options > File Types > MSG > Advanced and unchecking the "Confirm Open After Download" checkbox.

  5. Are There Any Known Technical Problems? The Save as MSG function had been in development and testing for over 12 months, but ultimately it is our users that help us notice potential problems and work towards a speedy solution. Just recently we have noted that in some instances messages that are opened from TrialWorks E-Mail Tab, then closed, and then opened again Outlook may randomly generate a "permission" error message (which pops under the active window, so you don't notice it until you minimize TrialWorks). We are working on resolving the issue for 9.37, which will be out soon. There is no reason to wait for the next release as the upgrade has many benefits and the reported problem is rare.

/KJ author.
/KJ updated on 8/8/07