Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Thu, 21 Aug 2008 23:22:43


First, my apologies because this isn't strictly specific to
mutt.

I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to accept/decline
meeting invitations when one is using an IMAP client to read
one's mail on an Exchange server. I use mutt, but I presume
users of other IMAP clients find themselves in a similar
situation. I haven't really found any thing by googling
various combinations of exchange, imap, invitation, accept,
etc.

Can one accept/decline a meeting invitation by sending a reply
in some defined format? If yes, where can I find some
documentation on what the reply is supposed to look like?

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Thomas Wie » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 02:06:50


I'm afraid the answer is not exactly what you want. claws-mail has a
plugin which is able to answer invitations which is call vCalender

( http://www.yqcomputer.com/ )

This again, is built on top of libical, which might be a good
starting point for further information.

Cheers,

Thomas

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 05:49:37


Interesting.

I'm told one can accept an invite by saving the e-mail to the
Calendar "folder" on the Exchange IMAP server. I assume that
the presence of the meeting.ics vcalendar attachment in
messages saved to that mailbox trigger a special feature in
Exchange server.

It's almost like Microsoft is trying to play nicely with non-MS
programs... [ominous music swells in background]

I also suspect that one can decline by modifying a couple
fields in the meeting.ics attachment before before saving it to
the Calendar folder. Were one to wade through RFCs 2445, 2446,
and 2447, it would probably be fairly obvious what fields to
change and how to change them.

Were one to write a filter program to modify those fields
appropriately, and were one to modify mutt to allow an
attachment to be modified in-place by piping it through an
external program...

If anybody runs into this "one" fellow, tell him to get busy.

Creating an invitation from scratch is a bit more complicated.
For the once every few years when I call a meeting, I can grit
my teeth and use the Exchange web interface. [Whoever wrote
that clunky beast should spend about 15 minutes playing with
Google Calendar and then try again.]

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 06:32:22


That doesn't appear to be quite true. Saving the message in
the "Calendar" folder adds it to my calendar, but it doesn't
notify the sender that I have accepted the invite.

I'm guessing I have to modify the meeting.ics file (perhaps
changing the METHOD: field value from REQUEST to ACCEPT) and
send it back to the sender.

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Thomas Wie » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 06:34:10


Yes, I think think this is the way it is done. If you access the
Calendar folder via IMAP (if you are in the lucky situation your
company provides this IMAP access to you) you can see that all this
messages have an attachment of the type .ics.


Huh, theoretically it should not be too difficult, as the ics stuff
is plain ascii. I tried to look a little bit deeper into this claws
plugin, because the "meeting room" was missing in display, but I
found the code was not very clear to read (at least to me).


Hmm, I'm not sure if this is really so difficult. I get from time to
time in the company mails with an invitation to all hands
meetings, where they did not use the exchange functionality to
invite the people, but rather attached an ics attachment, which you
could drag and drop to your into your calender. So if you want to
sent an invitation with mutt it should work the same way.

[Of course you are right with the exchange web interface. This
really sucks. Thats the reason why I usually use Outlook for that
groupware stuff and mutt for mail. The groupware part of Outlook is
really not that bad. duck&run ;-)]

Cheers,

Thomas

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Troy Piggi » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 07:06:17

* Grant Edwards wrote :

At work I have an IMAP server set up. Not exchange, but dovecot.
We use thunderbird mail clients with the lightning addon, and if
I'm sent meeting invitations from both internal users or external
users of outlook etc it seems to handle them well. Not sure if
that helps you, but it's an option :)

--
Troy Piggins | http://www.yqcomputer.com/ ~troy _ /|/
|\__/ Oo,
( \\ D
Mutt 1.5.18 (with rr.compressed & vvv.nntp patches) L\-\L`\/|
 
 
 

Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 07:07:31

n 2008-08-21, Thomas Wiegner < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > wrote:


The .ics file format is documented in a set of RFCs but I
haven't had time to look through them in detail. I was hoping
to be able to glean from the libical sources or the RFCs
information such as:

* to "accept", change the .ics file's fields X, Y, and Z
values to A, B, C and mail it back to the sender.

* to "decline", change the .ics file's fields X, Y, and Z
values to D, E, F and mail it back to the sender.

I'm sure that info is there somewhere, but I'm not sure which
is going to be easier to decipher: the RFCs or the libical
code.

I suspect a command line program to manipulate ical files using
libical (particularly using the Python bindings) wouldn't be
too hard to do once you figure out which way is up.


It certainly looks like you can interact with the Exchange
calendaring system in a pretty straight-forward way by
sending/receiving/saving emails with .ics VCALENDAR format
attachments. Frankly, I'm rather surprised -- Microsoft
appears to be trying to be interoperable.


<long-boring-backstory>

Not bad except for the part where you have to have a Windows
machine up and running. And copy of Outlook. I rarely have the
former and don't have the latter. I could probably arrange to
get a copy of Outlook up and running, but it would have to be
running on the "A" internal network, and I do 99.9% of my work
on the "B" internal network -- from which one has IMAP and web
access but not MAPI (or whatever it is that Outlook uses).

Every time I want to attach/save a file, that file is (or needs
to be) on the "B" network, and every time I want to cut/paste
something to/from an e-mail, it's from a program that I'm
running on the "B" network. So a copy of Outlook on the "A"
network would be a PITA to use.

[It used to be worse -- we didn't used to have IMAP access to
Exchange from the "B" network. You don't want to know the
hoops we used to jump through to get stuff back and forth
between e-mails and machines on the "B" network.]

Putting dual NICs in a machine and putting it on both "A" and
"B" networks is strictly verboten.

</long-boring-backstory>

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Sat, 23 Aug 2008 07:10:20


That does confirm my suspicion that one can successfully
interact with Exchange's calendaring system by sending and
receiving .ics attachments. I just need to find some handy
command-line utilities to manipulate those files so that I can
accept or decline invites using mutt.

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Sun, 24 Aug 2008 00:08:18


I've been able to generate response .ics files using
Thunderbird, and as you said, they work fine with MS Exchange.
So now that I have some examples to look at (along with the
RFCs), I'm going to have a go at writing a command-line program
to generate .ics files to accept/decline invites.

There's a parallel thread on the mutt-users mailing list (also
started by me). Now that I've got some direction, I'm going to
attempt to consolodate the threads. I flipped a coin and the
mailing list won. I'll probably post again here when I've got
something working, but plan on continuing the discussion on the
mail-list if anybody is interested.

http://www.yqcomputer.com/

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Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Troy Piggi » Sun, 24 Aug 2008 07:05:50

* Grant Edwards wrote :



Good news. Make sure you post results here to share ;)


No worries. I used to subscribe to the mutt list, but have
dropped off it some time ago. Would appreciate you posting the
results here.

--
Troy Piggins | http://www.yqcomputer.com/ ~troy _ /|/
|\__/ Oo,
( \\ D
Mutt 1.5.18 (with rr.compressed & vvv.nntp patches) L\-\L`\/|
 
 
 

Dealing with Exchange meeting invitations

Post by Grant Edwa » Sun, 24 Aug 2008 08:09:55


It's too bad the newsgroup and mailing list are gatewayed
together. They're bot active but not enough so that combining
them would be too much. comp.lang.python and the python
mailing list are tied together and it works quite well (or
course I don't have to administer the gateway, so I can't say
how much ongoing effort it requires).


Will do.

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at Philadelphia a puppy is
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