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If you know anything about public transport in the UK, you’ll know you can be standing around for ages before anything comes, then they all come at once heading in the same direction. So it is with SharePoint and Outlook integrators. In October we had harmon.ie; this month we have SharePointBoost and its Outlook integrator.

Leaving aside the fact that SharePointBoost is based in China for a moment, the company develops SharePoint add-ons, web parts and workflow solutions that bridge the gap between SharePoint out-of-the-box and custom functionality.

SharePoint-Outlook Web Part

The web part will enable SharePoint and Outlook users to move email files from Outlook into SharePoint by dragging and dropping the email and attachment into SharePoint, either singly or in groups, from within the Outlook interface.

With the multiple functions, the web part enables bulk selection followed by drag-and-drop, meaning users keep associated email files together, or take selected files and carry out the same process.

As the email messages associated with attachments are often superfluous, users can also select the attachments on their own and move them without having to take the whole message as well.

While there are a number of other useful functions present, the other one that stands out is metadata preservation. Moving files to SharePoint requires the renaming of files because SharePoint does not allow for special characters in the file name, so the process of moving them can take a considerable amount of time.

With this web part, Outlook can bypass the process and save the messages using their original name and title -- something that should keep compliance-conscious companies happy.

In addition, metadata is extracted from email messages to help categorize and classify messages and attachments and simplify their backup by providing email information needed for storage.

Furthermore, administrators can create defined libraries for those email messages, whether that means creating libraries defined by department, content or file type.

Harmon.ie, Outlook

But SharePointBoost isn’t the only one that has been playing around with SharePoint and Outlook. In October, CMSwire contributing writer Mike Ferrara wrote about the harmon.ie announcement, which, while promising tighter integration between Outlook and SharePoint, also included an interesting test of its capabilities. 

To demonstrate its capabilities during SPTechCon 2010 in Boston, Harmon.ie (formerly Mainsoft) set out to challenge attendees on finding out how much time they could save by using this software. The result is that a typical 1,000-user organization could save up to 15,000 hours per year in conversion time.

The difference with SharePointBoost is that Harmon.ie’s product also works with Lotus Notes and, of course, the fact that SharePointBoost is in China, and aims to serve that market.

Who is SharePointBoost?

SharePointBoost began as a SharePoint consulting firm servicing local companies and multinational corporations in the greater China region, covering requirements definition, project planning and implementation, as well as portal design and custom .NET, AJAX and Silverlight development.

By mid-2008, it had launched its commercial software division, bringing some custom developed web parts and workflow enhancements to market, bridging the gap between SharePoint out-of-the-box and custom functionality. It now claims more than 2,000 companies across 50 countries.

The reason we mention the fact that it is Beijing-based is that is it provides some indication as to how quickly this market is developing and the fact that there are many regionally based companies providing IT products and services without having to look to the US or Europe. Definitely a market to watch.