OutLinker Setup Gets Easier and New Attachment Feature

Outlinker has evolved quite a bit as I've gotten more familiar with the capabilities of VBA in Microsoft OutLook and gained the advantages that the installation program provides in making forms easier to deliver.

The latest release of OutLinker uses a form to set configuration options rather than the OutLook notes folder. The configuration information is now stored in the registry, which speeds up startup significantly and allows settings to be changed on the fly during the session (e.g. change archive folder for a set of messages).

OutLinker Setup Form

You access this by hitting the "Options" button on the main form:

OutLinker Form

The archive folder can now be chosen by browsing to it by clicking on the button.
Browse for destination folder.

This change has enable the restriction on archive folders being at the root level to be removed. Now any folder in any location can be used. Usage statistics can now be viewed by clicking on the "Stats" button on the interface:
Example usage statistics

The other big change is that OutLinker can now attach a .msg file with the full outlook message (and its attachments) to a topic in a map in addition to providing a link to the archived message. This is a key feature if you want to use it on collaborative maps where links to your pst file are meaningless or confusing to your collegues. It also reduces the risk that your will misplace information if the link between your map and pst gets broken at some point. You need the latest release of MindReader for this feature to work for queued items. The "Send to Active Map" command will work out of the box.

OutLinker Attachment Feature

The one other new feature is the addition of a "Relationship Map" button. I often direct items that are not associated with a specific project to a dedicated map for the individual I'm communicating with. I do that in MindReader by setting up a destination keyword for that map in the form of "namemap". I found I was doing this manually quite a bit with the form version of OutLinker. Now if you check the "m" checkbox in the "relation" section, a keyword will automatically be composed using the other person's email address name.

I'm hoping this is the last of the major OutLinker updates for awhile. If you have found installation to intimidating in the past, I think this may be the version for you. The setup form simplifies things quite a bit.

37 Comments »

  1. Peter said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

    Another big update…fast! Brilliant.
    I've tried installing from the beta download page but I think this still has the march5th version?

  2. ActivityOwner said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

    Hi Peter — Good catch! I had put the latest version in the MindReader directory by mistake. The new version is in the right spot now:

    http://www.activityowner.com/installers/outlinker-beta-download.php

  3. Peter said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

    installs perfectly now!

    Lot of appreciation over here!

  4. ActivityOwner said,

    March 7, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

    Note that it tries to maintain your archive folder through the upgrade but you should check it under the option settings and reselect if it is not as desired.

  5. Ron said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

    I am getting a "Compile error: Variable not defined" in line 264 of the OutLinkerForm code. I suspect that I need a new version of the form to manually install. I found and installed the new OutLinkerSettings form in the Wiki but did not see any updates for the OutLinkerForm.

    Ron

  6. Ron said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

    That appears to be the problem – I ran the install script and then reset everything (MM7 References, other macros) manually and all is working well.

    As an aside I have noticed that the form is now maintaining focus almost all the time which is very nice – not sure if you found a solution or not.

    Regarding the "Attach Message" feature – should this be a configuration option rather than an individual message option? It seems to me you would want to do this all the time (I do) or not at all. Having to click the option or type the keyword each time is not practical. A compromise might be to have the default status of the check box configurable – i.e. checked or not checked.

    Finally, one thing I have been thinking about that would make the form really nice would be to combine the functionality of the lkw tag with a drop down box listing all of my map link keywords to select from. As it is now, even if I am using the mouse I still have to type the destination map link into the text box manually.

    Ron

  7. ActivityOwner said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

    Ron —

    re:changes to outlinkerform
    Yes, the outlinkerform form had a few updates necessary to call the Outlinker settings (e.g. the setup button). I also added the "m' checkbox

    re: Focus
    I had tried to change a few things to try to keep focus but nothing major. I've been working entirely by mouse so hadn't noticed it was doing better.

    re: attach check box
    I'm tending to think it should be a "sticky" option that can be toggled on the main form interface. Perhaps the "put message in body" could put put there as well? The form is getting a bit crowded, so I hope it can still be intuitive to a new user.

    I'm personally not sure yet if I want to attach all my messages. Messages with large attachments could be a drag on map size and map opening speed. One alternative would be to save the attachments to disk and link to them, but that is a complex problem in terms figuring out the right the location to use.

    re:lkw dropdown
    That's a good suggestion. It will take some thought on how to best do it as a key premise here is that you don't need/want to have MindManager open all the time. It also is designed to work without MindReader (which is not really a problem as the button can just be hidden for non-users).

    The information would need to be harvested periodically and stored in some type of structure (in registry likely). I'm personally finding that I very often want to put the message on a map that is dedicated to the sender/addressee and the new check box enables me to add sendermap. All I needed tto do today was use the k-tag to put in place link keywords to catch those.

    I've added it to the "OutLinker Development Suggestion" list as its more of a early Sunday morning project than a weeknight 2-minute action :-).

    http://wiki.activityowner.com/index.php?title=Outlinker_Development_Suggestions

  8. ActivityOwner said,

    March 9, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

    OK — I uploaded a fresh copy to beta download (and the forms and code to the wiki for manual upgraders).

    New Features (reflected on new picture in blog entry above):

    * Removed limit on selected messages (people processing their sent items were running into 600 message limit).

    * Made options to put message in note and to attach message as a file sticky on main form (put message in note option was on options page).

    * Turn timer red if you run over 2 minutes between processing messages. You have to mouse over the form to get it to update.

    * Limit message size in GyroQ transfers to 10,000 characters. There have been occasional reports of GyroQ queue failures with extremely large messages. This may guard against that. I found 93% of messages in my archive were smaller than this.

    *Trapped error whereby last use date value coming from registry was not empty.

    Keep the comments and error reports coming.

  9. Marco said,

    March 10, 2009 @ 3:56 am

    Ouch, I'm getting a run-time error 94 (invalid use of null) on line 21 – setboolean "attachmsg", attachCheckBox.value.
    I don't see the form after clicking the outlinker button.

    Not sure whether this is relevant:this is the first time I run OutLinker after the upgrade to the "registry version".

  10. Marco said,

    March 10, 2009 @ 4:51 am

    I tend to not include links to all my messages in mindmaps – only ones I want to track progress on. Sometimes I find out at a later stage that I would still like to track it. To get to the relevant message I use a search in Outlook…
    To allow adding a link while reading the message I also added the OutLinker macro button in the email form in Outlook. This was working fine until last Friday, but somehow with the new OutLinker this is no longer possible (it jumps to the first item in my intray).
    Is it possible to continue the previous behaviour? Now, as a workaround, I use search to get to the correct message, write down the details (date/time and subject) and then scroll to the correct message in my MainArchive …

  11. ActivityOwner said,

    March 10, 2009 @ 8:39 am

    Marco
    re: Runtime error

    sorry about that. I missed some initialization in the upgrade code. I didn't have a chance to fix the setup program this morning. I added some lines to the Outlinker.bas file on the macro page on the wiki to address it. I'll fix the setup this evening.

    http://wiki.activityowner.com/index.php?title=Outlinker.bas

  12. ActivityOwner said,

    March 10, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

    A new outlinker.exe is uploaded to the beta link that should fix the runtime error issue, but let me know what people experience. Upgrade related code is hard to test as I don't have machines is various states.

    Marco — Outlinker just processes the selected messages, so if you have selected the message resulting from the search, it should work the way you want. I just tested and it seemed fine. Can you give it another try?

  13. ActivityOwner said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 7:35 am

    Another updated posted this morning to address runtime error issues experienced by some.

  14. Ron said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 9:02 am

    I am regularly getting caught in a loop with the message "You are at bottom of message list. Start over at top". Clicking "Yes" just repeats the message. Clicking "No" clears the message and brings up the stats pop up but restarting Outlinker returns me to the message. The only way I have found to break the loop is to shut down Outlook completely and restart it.

    Ron

  15. ActivityOwner said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

    Thanks Ron — You are one step ahead of me! That has been a nagging issue I hadn't gotten around to tracking down but had just made it to the top of my list.

    It was due to a bug in the logic around trying to bring you back to the last message you were working on. If that message is being deleted it needs to account for that when it gets run again. The latest uploaded version has some fixes that should eliminate it.

  16. Ron said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

    Okay, now I have a REALLY perplexing problem. Everything was working fine – REALLY fine – this morning and I blew through about 100 emails. This afternoon I can't get the form to come up. When I try to start OutLinker the current message opens and that is all – the form never appears and Outlook locks up. I have to kill Outlook using the task manager. I have no idea what is going on. The only thing I can think of is that this started after I emptied my GyroQ Queue.

    Ron

  17. Ron said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

    There is one message in my GyroQ Queue so Outlinker did work once after emptying my queue – I processed that message as a one off.

  18. ActivityOwner said,

    March 11, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

    Hi Ron — It wouldn't be related to emptying the queue. I'm not sure what is happening. Did you install with outlinker.exe or manually?

    Could you try opening the macro in the macro editor and then hitting F8 repeatedly to "step into" program to see what line it is getting in trouble on (or if it is looping).

  19. ActivityOwner said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 1:16 am

    Ron — One possible problem could be that the form remembers its last location and due to a change in screen resolution (or non use of dual screen) it is trapped off your screen. I just uploaded a new version that tries to reset with each use.

    Eventually it should check keep this sticky unless it determines it is not visible.

  20. ActivityOwner said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 7:21 am

    New version without the stray dialog box uploaded this morning.

  21. Ron said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 8:02 am

    Problem solved – you were exactly correct. The other difference is that I am on a laptop and moved from being docked with multiple monitors to undocked. I had Outlook and therefore Outlinker running on one of the secondary monitors when I was docked.

    Thanks again.

    Ron

  22. Mark Bloodgood said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    Outlinker.exe fails to move or create settings in the registry. I stop with the runtime error 5: "DeleteSetting OutLinkerRegName, OutLInkerRegPref, "ArchiveFolder"
    This line is repeated twice in the subroutine and it is stopping at the first instance.
    The orginal Outlinker Settings Note only has three entries left:
    underinbox:0
    gmailstore:imap. . . . (I don't have gmail)
    ArchiveFolder: Outlinker Archive

    The only other thing I can think to mention is that the Outlook Program is on C:, but the message folder, My Documents, GyroQ, etc. are on D:\

    Thanks for any help you can provide,

    –Mark

  23. ActivityOwner said,

    March 12, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

    Mark — Sorry about that. I had initially not realized that deleting nonexistent settings would throw an error and hadn't trapped it everywhere. I appreciate everyone's patience in this upgrade. The transition to registry storage had quite a bit of code revision associated with it (net -10%) and I need to keep code workable for people in varous states of fresh-install/upgrade mode. Try the latest version which should fix this issue.

  24. gmmazza said,

    March 16, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

    Hi AO, I find outlinker great, but I would like to see some kind of custom config file like the one in mindreader, for us, non English speakers. That will make Outlinker much more useful. Specially now that you added buttons. Grat work and ultra fast response to all the errors.

  25. ActivityOwner said,

    March 16, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

    Que es una buena idea. Hay planes para configuraciones MindReader en holandés, francés y español. Para aquellos que para funcionar correctamente, necesita OutLinker de cambiar también.

    Programming the entire interface and functionality to be language independent will take some work. The first priority should probably be to adapt the keywords being set [today -> hoy] by the buttons so they are recognized correctly.

    There are a couple of potential strategies:
    1. We could have a configuration form where user could change the specific
    keywords. These could be set by the program for known languages.
    2. We could open the mindreaderconfig map and use it in reverse to "learn" the keywords in use by looking at the notes.
    3. We could embed the language in the VB code and selectively activate it with a compilation or configuration switch, or by including different versions of a module in setup for different languages.

    Are there particular language configuration options you really need configurable in the near term to work with your system?

  26. ActivityOwner said,

    March 16, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

    In the meantime, the best strategy for OutLinker compatibility would be to add extra entries in your MindReaderConfig.mmap to catch codes coming over from OutlLinker. For example, if you have "hoy" as today in the due date branch, add an additional "today" branch, etc.

  27. ActivityOwner said,

    March 18, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

    Thinking about this some more, it is much easier for MindReader users to just retain the necessary English keywords in their mindreaderconfig.mmap to convert the few keywords that OutLinker sets. The source code for OutLinker in the latest version does break out the language keywords so it can be customized if desired.

    The latest version also has a new feature. If you have several messages in a conversation/thread, they will be recognized and you can focus in on just on that subset by hitting the ThreadZoom button (only shown when conversation message selected). That will enable you to quickly traverse the thread and delete/reply as appropriate.

    The other messages will still be selected but you will need to exit/re-run OutLinker to add them back into the rotation when you are done with the thread.

  28. Ron said,

    March 19, 2009 @ 11:30 pm

    Just installed the latest update and am getting "Compile error: Sub or Function not defined" pointing at "olversioncheck" on line 108.

  29. ActivityOwner said,

    March 20, 2009 @ 5:46 am

    Ron — That is strange. Did you paste the macro in from the wiki? That function is the last one at the end so perhaps it got left out in the cut/paste?

  30. Ron said,

    March 20, 2009 @ 8:45 am

    Yep – PEBKAC – all is fine after redoing the copy/paste.

    On another note, what is the ThreadZoom button supposed to do? I see the note that says "X msgs in this thread" but clicking the button does nothing that I can discern. Am I missing something?

    Ron

  31. ActivityOwner said,

    March 20, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

    Hi Ron — "ThreadZoom" was a quick hack to have it navigate across just the messages in the thread. The latest version replaces this with "nt" (next in thread) and "pt" (previous in thread) buttons.

  32. Carlo said,

    February 6, 2012 @ 11:00 am

    Hi, what is the very latest version of Outlook Linker supposed to be?
    The beta installer link takes to file oulinker332.exe, but when I check for updates from within Outlook Linker I get a warning saying that I'm running version 20110329 while the latest version is 2011112.
    How can I get that version 20111112 (assuming it is indeed the most recent one)?
    Thanks,
    Carlo

  33. ActivityOwner said,

    February 22, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    Hi Carlo — Sorry for delay in my reply. I got a bit sloppy on versions and links as versions of Outlook and MindManager accumulated.

    Today I've uploaded new versions 2012-02-22 for OutLook 2010 and MindManager 8, 9, and 2012.

    Let me know if you run into trouble.

  34. Carlo said,

    February 23, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    New version gets downloaded and installed without problems, except for one small issue that was present also in previous versions: in the References list of VB editor also Office14 (i.e. 2010) is selected, but with a "MISSNG" warning message in front of it.
    Untill I unselect that reference, Outlinker does not run when I click on it in the Command bar but complains that it cannot compile one module.
    The version check does not report any mismatch now.
    Are there any specific corrections or improved in this last version to be checked out?
    Bye!

  35. ActivityOwner said,

    February 23, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

    Hi Carlo — Thanks for pointing that out. What version of windows are you using. I'm using 64bit Win7 so my office library is in c:\program files (x86)\common files\microsoft shared\…

    It could be that yours is in another location so it sees it as missing. I'm not sure of a way around that short of better documenting how user needs to fix it.

    There is also a problem for users who forget (or don't know) to install "MindReader for GyroQ" to get the macro files in place.

    No changes in this version. I just updated the date to avoid ambiguity on past versions.

  36. Carlo said,

    February 23, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    Hi, I'm also on Win7 64 bit.
    I'm not too familiar with this kind of matters, but it seems to me that my Office libraries are in the same location as yours.
    However, there's no Office14 folder there (which is to be expected, since I'm running Office 2007!).
    I only had OneNote (which I think belongs to Office 2010 suite) installed for some time ago, but then I removed it. Could it be that some leftover in the registry or so fool the installer?
    Anyway, I think that some clarification in the documentation could be well enough to address the issue: all this gear is for quite techy people, all in all…

  37. ActivityOwner said,

    February 23, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    Ah — Office 2007 may have something to do with it. I have MM8, MM9, and MM2012 installed so I can create installation specific to each version but I don't have Office 2007 installed. Even if I did, its getting to be too many combinations!

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