Extending the Outlook Social Connector

I am one of those persons who has 25 apps running at the same time. I always have multiple instances of Explorer, VS, Office docs, and other apps running at all times. The one app I never close and I frequently visit is Outlook.

One of the neat new additions to Outlook 2010 is the the Outlook Social Connector (OSC). The Microsoft Outlook Social Connector is an add-in that surfaces social network data including friends, profiles, activities, and status information from social networks in Microsoft Outlook.

I really like the idea of bringing a lot of updates from multiple social networks sites where I have multiple personal and MSDN Office accounts to the one app where I spend a great deal of my day: Outlook.

Microsoft announced yesterday the availability of the Microsoft Outlook Social Connector (OSC) Beta (February Update) and a refresh about partnering with LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace.

You can download the latest version of the Outlook Social Connector from the Microsoft Download Center.  Please be sure to read the detailed instructions and if necessary remove the earlier Outlook Social Connector Beta.  (More details are here)

What’s more cool about the Outlook Social Connector is that you can extend it. In addition to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Myspace providers, you’ll also be able to write your own.

This diagram shows the Outlook Social Connector provider architecture:


If you are a developer and you are interested in extending the Outlook Social Connector, I recommend that you check this blogs, articles, and resources:

  1. MSDN article: Developing an Outlook Social Connector Provider: This article discusses the interfaces that a Microsoft Outlook Social Connector provider (OSC provider) must implement. The OSC provider extensibility interfaces provide a way for disparate social networks to show friend, activity, and relationship information in Outlook. An OSC provider component must implement the ISocialProvider, ISocialSession, ISocialProfile, and ISocialPerson interfaces. These interfaces expose methods and properties that allow the OSC to communicate with a social network independently of the APIs provided by the social network.
  2. Download sample code: ODC Provider Templates: Outlook Sample: Outlook Social Connector Provider: This project contains a sample Outlook Social Connector provider and several provider templates (in C++, C#, and Visual Basic) for Microsoft Outlook 2010 Beta, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003.
  3. Blog: Angela Chu-Hatoun (WONG) has a great blog post oriented not so much for the end user but for the developer who might want to develop an OSC provider for a social network site.
  4. Blog: Outlook Team blog: Developing a provider for the Outlook Social Connector

Additionally, as mentioned by Stephen Griffin, later on the Outlook team will be shipping the OSC as an add-in for Outlook 2007 and 2003, so you can get all that social goodness even if you’re not yet on Outlook 2010!