Tech Tip: Use custom forms for data input to public folders

In addition to communicating, Outlook can also be useful for obtaining specific information from users. For example, if you need to accept support requests, you could develop a custom support request form and ask users to post requests to a public folder on an Exchange server. The custom form can contain drop-down lists, option buttons, text boxes, and other controls to simplify the users' task of identifying the problem and desired solution.

Follow these steps to create an interactive support request form:

  1. Go to Tools | Forms | Design A Form. Select the Post form, and click Open.
  2. Select the Control Toolbox, and add controls as necessary to the form. Click a form tab to open that tab to add controls.
  3. To associate a field with a control, right-click the control, choose Properties, select the Value tab, click Choose Field, and select a field.
  4. To create a custom field to store special data, click New in the New Field dialog box, enter the field information, and click OK twice.
  5. When the form is complete, go to Tools | Forms | Publish Form As, select the target public folder from the Look In drop-down list, specify a name for the form, and click Publish.
  6. If more than one form is published to the folder, expand the folder list in Outlook, right-click the folder, select Properties, and remove any forms that you don't want users to post to the folder. Click OK.

If the public folder contains only one form, Outlook will use that form by default when users open the folder and click New to start a new post. When users post the form to the folder, the information in the form's fields is saved with the post. When you view the form, you'll see the data in the same format as the user who posted it.

Using a custom form in this way helps ensure that users know what information to supply, and it provides a consistent format for obtaining data from users.

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