MLS -> Outlook + photos -> Blackberry?

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bstein
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MLS -> Outlook + photos -> Blackberry?

Postby bstein » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:29 pm

My bishopric wants to abandon the use of binders filled with membership records and our custom member info sheets with photos.

The goal is to get all of this information into Outlook and synced with their Blackberries. My bishop is a Church employee and evidently CHQ's method is his inspiration (Exchange?).

Lacking such a server on the ward computer, finding Exchange clones unsuitable propositions, and having unsuccessfully located solutions here, has anyone a solution they would be willing to point me to or detail? (I'm trying to figure out the process myself, but am having difficulty with importing Outlook.)

Thanks for any help!

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:42 pm

ParticleMan wrote:My bishopric wants to abandon the use of binders filled with membership records and our custom member info sheets with photos.

The goal is to get all of this information into Outlook and synced with their Blackberries. My bishop is a Church employee and evidently CHQ's method is his inspiration (Exchange?).

Lacking such a server on the ward computer, finding Exchange clones unsuitable propositions, and having unsuccessfully located solutions here, has anyone a solution they would be willing to point me to or detail? (I'm trying to figure out the process myself, but am having difficulty with importing Outlook.)


The Membership vCards with Photos project seems like it would fit your needs when it is done. Review that thread to see if you agree.

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Postby RossEvans » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:17 am

ParticleMan wrote:\The goal is to get all of this information into Outlook and synced with their Blackberries. My bishop is a Church employee and evidently CHQ's method is his inspiration (Exchange?).


I think Blackberries do have the capability to sync automatically with Exchange servers. Perhaps they also can be loaded with vCard files exported from Outlook, but I doubt that the process would be fully automatic.

If automatic syncing is the bishopric's expectation, such expectation may need to be managed.

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Postby RossEvans » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:08 am

Alan_Brown wrote:The Membership vCards with Photos project seems like it would fit your needs when it is done. Review that thread to see if you agree.


One thing to be careful about is the loose linkage between MLS data and the photos scraped from LUWS. As I understand mkmurray's comments, his process is achieving a fuzzy match between the two sets of data -- which is the best that can be hoped for, because there is no common key to work with.

Also, it presumably makes a difference which of the two MLS vCard exports is used. One is organized with one record per member, the other with one record per household. The LUWS records and photos are organized per household.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:05 am

boomerbubba wrote:One thing to be careful about is the loose linkage between MLS data and the photos scraped from LUWS. As I understand mkmurray's comments, his process is achieving a fuzzy match between the two sets of data -- which is the best that can be hoped for, because there is no common key to work with.

Correct. With my ward, I only get about 5 households out of a couple hundred that aren't a 100% match on the criteria I have chosen (which is fairly extensive and errors on accuracy's side). I have built UI that shows the user potential matches, and if it's not a 100%, it's usually somewhere above 95%. I could just code it to assume that's good enough, but so far it's only been a few in my tests. I'm distributing my application in a way where I can update the code base and the user automatically downloads the latest code base every few days if there is an upgrade (ClickOnce technology).
boomerbubba wrote:Also, it presumably makes a difference which of the two MLS vCard exports is used. One is organized with one record per member, the other with one record per household. The LUWS records and photos are organized per household.

Yes, that's a good point. I'll need to update my documentation and perhaps error handling for this. Thanks.
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:21 am

Not knowing Blackberries, the first question I have is can one add data to it without it going to the Exchange Server it's connected to?
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The_Earl
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Postby The_Earl » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:24 pm

Blackberry has a number of ways to load data:

Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES): Server software that runs next to the Exchange server and syncs calendars, contacts and email to the blackberry handheld wirelessly. Expensive and dependent on Lotus or Exchange.

Blackberry Internet Services (BIS): Blackberry service that downloads mail from POP/IMAP/ActiveSync to the blackberry handheld wirelessly. Free. Does not sync other information like contacts or calendar.

Blackberry Desktop: Desktop application that can sync mail CLIENT programs like OUTLOOK to the blackberry handheld over a USB or Bluetooth connection. Free. Syncs calendar, contacts etc.

I think your bishop is probably connected to the church's Blackberry Enterprise Server, and is getting all his info wirelessly. BES is not an option for you unless you have a few $K sitting around and feel like setting up a mail server.

You could load a member directory by having your users import them into their mail client with Blackberry Desktop.

Blackberrys that are connected to BES automatically sync back to the server, and don't always play nicely with Blackberry Desktop.

In my case, I would be reluctant to import the ward directory to my blackberry because that data would then be loaded into our corporate email system automatically.

BIS + Blackberry desktop would work fine. You would still need to make sure that your bishopric does not inadvertently upload the ward list to their other accounts.

Good luck.

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Postby RossEvans » Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:24 am

The Earl wrote:In my case, I would be reluctant to import the ward directory to my blackberry because that data would then be loaded into our corporate email system automatically.


That puts Blackberry users generally in the same boat as users of Android and Palm Pre smartphones, which also upload their contacts to third-party servers. This practice would seem to violate the policy guidance provided on this forum.

On a different matter, the discussion above of possible use of mkmurray's process presupposes that the photos have been uploaded to LUWS in the first place. I suspect what the bishopric has in mind here does not involve the website at all.

From the original post, I gather that the intent is just to use a local copy of Outlook -- or is it Outlook Express, a wholly different application, which really uses the Windows Address Book? -- as the master repository for photos and contacts. I think that application provides for the user to import one photo at a time interactively.

My question about that architecture is this: How does anyone propose to sync the local Outlook [Express] contacts database with MLS, while managing updates and deletes along with new records? I suppose it would be easy to just wipe out the contacts database and reload it from the MLS export. But then all the photos would need to be imported again, one at a time.

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Postby mkmurray » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:18 am

boomerbubba wrote:From the original post, I gather that the intent is just to use a local copy of Outlook -- or is it Outlook Express, a wholly different application, which really uses the Windows Address Book? -- as the master repository for photos and contacts. I think that application provides for the user to import one photo at a time interactively.

From my tests, Outlook Express (or Windows Mail on Vista) can import a single .vcf file with many vCard entries in it. However, it doesn't import any embedded photos (although that's not to say that you can't attach photos after the fact). Outlook can handle importing a vCard with an embedded photo, but it cannot do more than the first vCard entry in a single .vcf file. This is why my project includes an Outlook plugin to handle this deficiency.
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:43 am

boomerbubba wrote:
The Earl wrote:In my case, I would be reluctant to import the ward directory to my blackberry because that data would then be loaded into our corporate email system automatically.
That puts Blackberry users generally in the same boat as users of Android and Palm Pre smartphones, which also upload their contacts to third-party servers. This practice would seem to violate the policy guidance provided on this forum.


Note that The Earl said "in my case." It's not accurate to then conclude that "that puts Blackberry users generally in the same boat...".

Many Blackberry users can choose to use the Blackberry Desktop to synchronize with Outlook (or similar apps), and never involve third-party servers. If they are required to sync with a corporate server, they might not have that option, but users who simply sync at home with Outlook can do so without violating policy.


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