Membership vCards with Photos

Discussions around miscellaneous technologies and projects for the general membership.
nathan.ellsworth
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Any updates?

Postby nathan.ellsworth » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:55 am

I cannot believe there isn't already a solution to this problem and you've written the first free multi vcard to outlook plug-in.

Pictures would be nice, but I'd be happy just with an easy way to go from LUWS vcard or csv download right into Outlook to then use ActiveSync to get the ward list into my Windows Mobile Treo 800w. Pictures also would just be icing. Is there some obvious easy method I've overlooked? It was a piece of cake to do with my old PalmOS device. Surely there are many members using WinMo who might have already figured this out?

Made any progress on any of this since the last post?

Thanks

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:25 am

nellswor wrote:I cannot believe there isn't already a solution to this problem and you've written the first free multi vcard to outlook plug-in.

Pictures would be nice, but I'd be happy just with an easy way to go from LUWS vcard or csv download right into Outlook to then use ActiveSync to get the ward list into my Windows Mobile Treo 800w. Pictures also would just be icing. Is there some obvious easy method I've overlooked? It was a piece of cake to do with my old PalmOS device. Surely there are many members using WinMo who might have already figured this out?

Made any progress on any of this since the last post?

Thanks

Yeah, I'm sorry...I just haven't dedicated the time to finishing this up yet. I'll try to get back on the ball again and get this distributed to people, as I think it would be quite helpful.

I hope to make the program so that you can decide if you want the photos embedded in the vCards or not. One issue that put the project at a stand-still is that I've written a very simple Outlook plugin, but I'm not sure how to distribute it. You have to have signed key or something and I can't figure out if I can just create the key on my box with a .NET executable, or if I have to buy a legal one from Microsoft.

This last issue is the real reason that progress was nearly halted on this project. If someone has experience in creating Outlook plugins using Visual Studio (I think the framework is called VSTO, or Visual Studio Tools for Office), then please give me some guidance. If I solve my problem on my own, I will report back my findings.

The good news is that I found a site that does free Subversion hosting and project tracking. But the difference between this site and other sites you may have seen already is that the creator of this one insists that this free offering is a lifetime guarantee and you don't have to make your projects public either (they can remain private). You currently have a disk quota of around 1.5 gigabytes, which is not bad in my opinion. Here is the link to the site: http://xp-dev.com/

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johnshaw
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Hoping for Good News!

Postby johnshaw » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:17 am

Any success in distributing the code? With out latest Tithing Settlement we took family pictures, this would be a great addition to our resources as ward leaders!

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:49 am

jshawut wrote:Any success in distributing the code? With out latest Tithing Settlement we took family pictures, this would be a great addition to our resources as ward leaders!

I appreciate you guys keeping me honest! :) Sometimes I need to know people are depending on me to finish.

I think I have solved the issues with the Outlook add-in. I'm not willing to pay hundreds of dollars to get a digital identity verification certificate from a vendor like Verisign. So when you install the Outlook add-in, it will say it's from an Unverified Publisher. I just want to make sure it doesn't bring up that "do you trust this plugin" dialog every time you load Outlook though.

Also, I think I have decided to go with Microsoft's ClickOnce deployment, instead of using MSI installers. The reasoning is partly because I wanted to learn the deployment technology, and the other part is because ClickOnce has built into it the idea of automaticaly checking for updates and downloading the latest from the server.

Unfortunately, this kind of deployment can't really be done on any open source hosting websites from what I can tell. If anyone knows of a free hosting site that will support ClickOnce deployment, please let me know. I mean basically you just need a place to put files I think; however, if the hosting is being done with IIS, you have to add a new MIME type in the IIS settings. I have a contact that will let me host it for like $5 a month (and also give me the ability to configure IIS) or I have a server here at home that I could host it on. But honestly, either option I choose, will cost me money and possibly require me to babysit the server to ensure uptime. I may have to put up a donate link on the site I'm hosting the utilities on.

As for timeline of when I can get this up and distributed, I will try and double my efforts. Perhaps I can get something up by the end of this week or by some time next week. Thanks for your patience.
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seanmikkelsen19-p40
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Postby seanmikkelsen19-p40 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:25 pm

That is great to hear mkmurray! I have been watching this thread for months after I stumbled upon it in search of a solution to the same problem.

I did develop a very simple application that will split the vcard that you download from the church website allowing you to then import them into outlook with a macro type script. An outlook plugin would be amazing to have.

I too could not find any logical way of connecting the image file names with their vcards in order to include images. It sounds like you have that all figured out though.

I look forward to seeing what you have come up with!

Thanks for your efforts, it should help a lot of people.


I meant to include a link to my little app if anyone wants to play with it. I just hosted it on an existing website of mine. You can download it here:
http://www.airsoftgunhub.com/page/274452203/vcard


Just a quick explanation of what this does; it is a simple gui that allows you to browse for a .vcf (Vcard) file (one that contains multiple records in one .vcf file). You can then choose a save location, and split the file. This basically takes the vcard that you downloaded from the church website (or any other vcard you may have this problem with) and separates them into individual vcards (by family). It then gives you the option to import them into outlook. This is not however integrated into Outlook by any means as it is a nightmare trying to even begin figuring that out (kudos to you mkmurray!). So by import, what it does is simulates you opening the file, and saving it. This is a lot more sloppy than a plugin, but I got desperate for a solution to this vcard/outlook problem. I wrote this on vista running outlook 2007 with no problems. I did however notice that when trying to import the vcards (using my app) it usually ran much smoother to actually have Outlook open and running before doing so.

I would be interested to see if this is of any use to anyone else. In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to mkmurrays release, it should be great.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:10 am

Thanks a lot for your vote of confidence. I think I'm getting close to releasing the Outlook plugin. But as for the utility that links photos to vCards on the Ward Website, the code needs to be cleaned up some and verified that it works with the new LDS Account authentication system.

Unfortuantely, I've been home-ridden and sick nearly this whole week as I developed strep throat. I'll have to see if I can get back on it early next week.
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seanmikkelsen19-p40
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Postby seanmikkelsen19-p40 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:58 pm

I hate to be a pest, I know you have been sick, but any update?

Thanks,
Sean

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:19 am

seanmikkelsen19 wrote:I hate to be a pest, I know you have been sick, but any update?

Thanks,
Sean

*sigh* Seriously...no offense taken at all...I need to be held accountable to this project! :) It's so close to being done.

I'm actually on vacation right now for the week. And work was crazy the last week in preparing to take this vacation and get the time off. I think I will be able to work on it again this next week. My new goal will be to have something posted during the next week (perhaps the Outlook plugin first).

Thanks again for the bump and reminder. It is sincerely appreciated.
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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:57 pm

mkmurray wrote:My new goal will be to have something posted during the next week (perhaps the Outlook plugin first).

Ok, time for some updates because I need to make excuses for why this isn't released yet...

The Outlook plugin is functional and bug-free as far as I can tell. However, distributing the add-in is proving difficult. I decided I would learn the ClickOnce technology that Microsoft offers for distributing the add-in, especially for it's benefit to be able to check a URL on a regular schedule for the latest updates without me writing a lick of code. This install technology I have chosen as opposed to writing a regular MSI installer.

Things are going great except for security and trust in the ClickOnce world. The right way to do this is to shell out hundreds of dollars for a secure certificate from a reputable and trusted certificate authority (like Verisign, etc.) to sign my add-in with. So now I got to figure out a way for my installer to add my URL as a trusted site in the Internet Zone trusted lists stuff. I will keep you posted but this will set me back a few days (it already has taken me a few to figure out the cause and possible solutions to the install error I am getting).

A few weeks ago, I rented some hosting space from one of our fellow community members (jcircus) for a decent monthly rate. It's also one of the few hosting services that allowed me to add custom MIME types to IIS for enabling this ClickOnce type of installing. So the good news there is that I already have a place to host this once I get the install bugs worked out.

Thanks for your patience, everyone.
Many questions are already answered on the LDSTech wiki. Check it out!

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:41 am

When this application is released, will users have access to your final vCard file (including embedded photos), or will they have to use Outlook? I might want to load the portable .vcf file into some other platform, but I have no plans to upgrade my personal PC to Outlook 2007.


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