MAPICDO, Distribution Lists, and Exchange 2010

One of the lesser known tricks in MAPI is that when you open a distribution list (MAPI_DISTLIST) from an address book using OpenEntry, if you don’t specify an interface what you get is not an IMailUser, but is in fact an IDistList, which inherits from IMAPIContainer. This gives you a means to access the members of the distribution list. Just call GetContentsTable and there they are. However, this trick doesn’t always work with MAPICDO when you’re talking to Exchange 2010. When you look at an Exchange 2010 address book using MFCMAPI, you’ll notice that all of the entry IDs are short term entry IDs. They don’t contain the DN of the entry being referred to. Instead, what they contain is an ephemeral ID, which is supposed to be a way to refer to an entry in the address book without constantly sending a DN back and forth. With the introduction of the Address Book Service in Exchange 2010, we split the concept of ephemeral IDs to include those generated by the Active Directory, and those generated by the Address Book service. The ID we find in these short term entry IDs is an Active Directory ID.

The upshot of all this is that when we use this short term entry ID to open an entry in the address book, we don’t get the full complement of properties we would normally expect (and that we would get if the short term Entry ID had used an Address Book ID). A side effect of this is that when we further try to call GetContentsTable, NspiGetMatches, the NSPI function which we’re calling under the covers, doesn’t understand the ID we pass to it and the call fails with the error MAPI_E_CALL_FAILED.

All is not lost, however. One of the properties we DO get using the short term entry ID is a proper long term entry ID with a full DN. And objects opened with this entry ID contain the full set of properties we normally expect to see. Further, we can now call GetContentsTable and get the members of the distribution list.

If you’re playing along in MFCMAPI, you would do this by:

  1. Select the distribution list whose members you wish to see.
  2. Right click on PR_ENTRY_ID in the bottom pane and select “Open as Entry ID or object”

The DL members will now appear in a new window. Back in the original window, the full set of properties for the DL will appear in the lower pane. In code, you would do this by opening the item with the short term entry ID, calling GetProps to get the long term entry ID, then calling OpenEntry again to get the full item.

This trick works for any of the PT_OBJECT type properties you expect to find on any entry in the address book, MAPI_MAILUSER included.


Comments (1)

  1. Josh Gardner says:

    This is a great article and much appreciated, however I did note, does this only work on distribution lists that reside on a server. I am asking because I tried doing this on a particular user’s contact distribution list and it does not work. I tested my sanity on a distribution list that was in the GAL and it gave me the members as it should. If this is how it is meant to be, is there a way to get the members of a user’s manually created distribution list (located in that users’s contacts, not the GAL)?

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