I last blogged about using the Microsoft Outlook Social Connector (OSC) provider extensibility to create an OSC provider. You can explicitly implement the provider extensibility interfaces of OSC 1.1. Alternatively, you can use the OSC Provider Proxy Library that Patrick Creehan created and then updated for OSC 1.1.
The OSC Provider Proxy Library simplifies the implementation of the OSC provider extensibility interfaces. Instead of a provider explicitly implementing those interfaces, the proxy library implements them, to call a set of abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library. A provider, in turn, overrides this set of abstract and virtual methods with the business logic specific to the social network, to return social network data that the OSC requires.
There is a real OSC provider for OfficeTalk that uses the OSC Provider Proxy Library. OfficeTalk is a social network for a corporate environment. Figure 1 shows an email from OTUser2 to OTUser1 and OTUser3, opened in Outlook. The People Pane at the bottom displays all updates that OTUser2 has posted on OfficeTalk.
Figure 1: The OSC displays OfficeTalk social network data in the People Pane
The OSC provider operates on two fronts, as shown in Figure 2:
A. The OfficeTalk OSC provider uses OfficeTalk-specific API to communicate with OfficeTalk.
B. The OfficeTalk OSC provider overrides the set of abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library, which in turn implements the OSC provider extensibility interfaces to communicate with the OSC.
Figure 2: Relationships of the OfficeTalk OSC provider with related components
Because OfficeTalk is not publicly available, you cannot set up OfficeTalk and experience the OfficeTalk OSC provider working with OfficeTalk. However, you can download source code to see how the OfficeTalk OSC provider overrides the set of abstract and virtual methods in the proxy library to communicate with the OSC. There is now a set of 4 Visual How To’s that describes how to use the OSC Provider Proxy Library to develop the OfficeTalk OSC provider. See Developing a Real Outlook Social Connector Provider for more details.
The OfficeTalk OSC provider serves as a good example of the kind of social network that you might want to develop a custom OSC provider for. The OSC Provider Proxy Library simplifies the process, and you can use the procedures for creating the OSC provider for OfficeTalk to similarly create a custom OSC provider for any social network.