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Dev wants opinions: Outlook contact sync (non Exchange)


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  1. MV10

    MV10 Member This Topic's Starter

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    I'm a developer writing an application to sync Outlook 2007 contacts with GMail. These are regular local-PST contacts, not Exchange, and yes, for now I'm exclusively focused on Outlook 2007 since that's what I have available. I may look at older versions (which I own) if this one works out. Anyway, I've tried most (all?) of the sync apps and didn't enjoy the experience. I've done the export/import thing and consider that a temporary fix. So I decided to do something about it myself.

    The application I have today runs in the background and periodically pulls contact data from both systems. It can identify matches using a variety of prioritized criteria, and it has a way to systematically decide what data needs to be updated in each contact list. It can write changes to both sides. So it's largely done -- except for some decisions about that sync methodology.

    The tricky thing about sync is that the GMail and Outlook contact data fields are totally different.

    For example, GMail allows unlimited e-mail contacts which are tagged as Home, Work, and Other. By contrast, Outlook only supports three e-mail addresses, and they're not tagged at all. What should a sync app do if the GMail account has four addresses, but only three Outlook slots to store them?

    A different example: GMail also supports unlimited phone numbers, also tagged with about six categories. On the other hand, Outlook can handle sixteen phone numbers, each with a fixed category. Some are a bit odd, like Radio Telephone. What should the sync app do if the GMail account has three Work numbers? Outlook only has Business 1 and Business 2...

    Granted, these are what programmers call "edge cases" -- they won't apply to most users. But I'm hoping to find some people with large, complex Outlook address books who will weigh in with opinions about how they'd like problem cases handled.

    Here is a comparison of the contact data in each system (exlcuding largely similar fields, and excluding the vast array of Outlook fields that simply have no GMail equivalent)--

    E-mail Addresses:
    GMail: Unlimited, tagged as [FONT=&quot]Home, Work, Other[/FONT]
    Outlook: 3, not tagged at all

    Phone Numbers:
    GMail: Unlimited, tagged as [FONT=&quot]Home, Work, Mobile, Work Fax, Home Fax, Pager, Other[/FONT]
    Outlook: 16, one each of Primary, Mobile, Car, Home, Home 2, Business, Business 2, Assistant, Callback, Company, Business Fax, Home Fax, Pager, Other, Radio Telephone, TTY/TDD

    Postal Addresses:
    GMail: Unlimited, tagged as [FONT=&quot]Home, Work, Other[/FONT]
    Outlook: 4, one each of [FONT=&quot]Home, Mailing, Business, Other[/FONT]

    IM Addresses:
    GMail: Unlimited, tagged as [FONT=&quot]GoogleTalk, AIM, Yahoo, Skype, QQ, MSN, ICQ, Jabber[/FONT]
    Outlook: 1, untagged (probably should equate to MSN, but...?)

    Generic "Other" Field:
    GMail: Unlimited, tagged as [FONT=&quot]Home, Work, Other[/FONT]
    Outlook: No direct equivalent

    Web Address:
    GMail: No direct equivalent
    Outlook: 1, not tagged

    The contact name is a special case. GMail does a poor job importing Outlook contacts since it leaves the name blank on business-only contacts. I guess Google devs only talk to their friends. :) The app I've written will fix your imported list in GMail by substituting the company name if the name is missing. Lots of little stuff like that is easy to do. It's the "unlimited" lists in GMail and the many places where there isn't a direct correlation that are creating questions in my mind.

    When something doesn't quite match up should the app simply not do anything? Or would you prefer a partially successful sync? What about some sort of manual conflict resolution? What other options would you like to see in a sync app? (Limited to sync activity and contacts -- I don't plan to mess with ToDo lists, calendars or anything outside of contacts.)

    You've got a dev's attention... share your thoughts and ideas.
     

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  2. andrej2k

    andrej2k New Member

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  3. MV10

    MV10 Member This Topic's Starter

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    It's only for $50-per-year business-oriented Google Apps Premier clients, and only for Exchange:

    Thanks for the heads-up, but I'll keep chasing this. I would think most people would prefer a one-time purchase for something like this, rather than what amounts to a subscription...
     
  4. GeraldNunn

    GeraldNunn Member

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    HTC Sync which comes with the Rogers Android phones works quite well for syncing contacts from Outlook when no Exchange server is present. One possible issue with it is you get your contact names in whatever way Outlook handles them, either "firstname lastname" or "lastname, firstname". Other then it worked quite well for me as a freebie.
     
  5. MV10

    MV10 Member This Topic's Starter

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    Interesting, I'll try it. I thought I had read that it required a rooted phone and somebody's hacked ROM image, which I'm not really interested in. But if I can find a download I'll give it a shot. Thanks.

    Edit: I installed it and the Vista update, but it doesn't seem to recognize that my phone is connected. (It appears to work through the phone, versus going to GMail.) You have a United States G1? Are you running a rooted phone or non-standard firmware?
     
  6. GeraldNunn

    GeraldNunn Member

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    As mentioned above, I have a Rogers phone so it has the HTC Cupcake ROM which includes HTC Sync. When I plug the phone into the computer it gives me the option on the phone to make an HTC Sync connection as well as the normal USB connection option.
     
  7. taxbuster

    taxbuster Member

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    "The tricky thing about sync is that the GMail and Outlook contact data fields are totally different."

    Personally, I have significant objections to using GMail, the least of which is that Google gets to mine whatever info I put up there. As a non-US person my information is also subject to inspection by various US agencies (I have nothing to hide - I just don't see a need for it, and if I were a US resident, I'd feel the same.) As well, the GMail notes field doesn't sync properly with the notes fields on the Android contacts folder = there appears to be some form of character limit that truncates the field.

    So - why use GMail at all? Why not develop an "activesync" clone that simply duplicates what activesync does on a WinMo machine?

    In my case I have both an Exchange Server (work) and Outlook (home) to deal with. I sync mail to both Exchange and Outlook, but Contacts, Tasks and Calendar to home Outlook only. All I want is a simple app that grabs my Contracts and Calendar items (I can live without tasks :D) and drops them on my phone.

    What I'd LOVE is something that does that AND allow my Exchange calendar to live separately - but viewable overlapped with the home one. No-one makes an app like that - anywhere. I can't be the only person who wants this.

    For me the phone is a business tool - I could care less about the camera, youtube crap etc. I need connectedness and it needs to be right. Simple?

    I hope so!
     
  8. taxbuster

    taxbuster Member

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    Mine did not have the HTC Sync on the SD card (as the manual says it is). Where did you get it/find it?
     
  9. MV10

    MV10 Member This Topic's Starter

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    Taxbuster, I'm not any great fan of GMail either, but to make this effort worthwhile I have to focus on the most common need, and I have to believe that's Outlook/GMail sync.

    Obviously somebody who has Outlook has a PC, and automatic background sync from Outlook to GMail (or the G1) is easiest to do from the PC end. To sync between Outlook and the phone directly would still require something on the PC -- it just adds conmplications to an already tricky process.

    It also doesn't help matters that Google keeps changing the API, the various language libraries are on different API levels, and some are not yet documented or are only partially documented. It's a huge mess, really.
     
  10. Baconbreath

    Baconbreath New Member

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    @ Taxman

    HTC Sync didn't come with my Rogers Dream either, but it worked great for syncing my contacts after i got it. I had a CSV file of all my contacts on my old Motorola phone, I imported this file in to Outlook Express(and immediately showered afterward) then ran HTC sync and it made short work of moving my contacts over.

    I got HTC sync here:

    HTC Sync upgrade for HTC Magic

    Just select HTC Sync in the drop down box and then a location, and download. Not sure what the driver updates listed there are about..I didnt use them.

    BB
     
  11. kaja69

    kaja69 Member

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    Hi, we have moved to GApps and I have ca. 500 Outlook contacts (2007, .pst file) that I want to move to Google Contacts. Simple export/import .csv works fine, the only issue I seem to have is that e-mail adresses are tagged "Other" in Google Contacts. In Outlook I have peoples Work mail address as #1 and Home as #2. I have tried exporting to Excel (which truncates the Notes field to 255 chareters for some reason making this method not usefull!), editing the headers for the email adresses (I have tried a few different headers I thought Google Contacts would understand) and save as .csv file, which I then upload to Google Contacts.

    Is there any trick to tell Google Contacts how to tack the mail adresses?
     
  12. Talon Pro

    Talon Pro Member

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    Sorry for the late bump. Just found this while searching.

    Wheres the development stand on this app?

    I would buy this (reasonable amount) because my wife and i both use Outlook at home, with different email addy's so one exchange server wouldnt work for us. I hate having to sync to Gmail, which i hardly use at all, in fact only got one for GTalk.

    Thanks!
     
  13. DAE51D

    DAE51D Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the lack of a dedicated Outlook (2003) sync to Android is one of the main reasons keeping from this platform from my PalmOS (Treo 650). This is rediculous. I don't want my data stored in "the cloud". It's mine. Not Google's. Gmail sucks. And uploading my contacts to gmail and then back via CSV is not a solution, it's a hack, as it doesn't retain images. It doesn't sync tasks, memos and calendar via the hack either. I'm astonished that such a modern phone can't (or more likely, won't) do what 10 year old phones have been doing. Even my 3Com Palm Pilot PDA did this back in 1996.
     
  14. billd2

    billd2 New Member

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    [FONT=&quot]If there were a way to sync all of the fields of my Outlook contacts that are in my local PST directly into a [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Motorola Driod[/FONT][FONT=&quot] phone, I would make the switch from my Palm Treo 700p immediately. This is the only thing holding me back.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]There are some great threads in this posting and I would like to know where we stand today.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]While researching Android in this forum, I came across [/FONT][FONT=&quot]MV10[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
     
  15. xpdnc

    xpdnc New Member

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    Same dealio here. I'd switch all 7 cellphones at my company if this were possible. We've all been using palmOS for so many years that it's impossible to manually copy all of our notes attached to contacts, notes attached to calendar, notes attached to tasks, and the notes attached to whereever else we put them.

    In fact, we're at the point now that we don't even care which hardware device we go to (iPhone, Pre, Droid, 7, etc.) as long as we can transfer all of our PIM data AND fully search for individuals words within those notes. The problem with the iPhone and the webOS Pre is that they're not "full-on text searchable" like palmOS and Blackberry.

    Without notes and "full search" (I hesitate to use the word 'universal' because webOS uses that term and it's anything but...) we'll just keep on buying used Centro's, Treo's, and Pro's until someone turns their attention to the millions of potential customers in this predicament.

    Palm sold more than 30,000,000 palmOS devices worldwide. If only 10% need this functionality, then 3 million customers isn't a horrible built-in market.
     

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