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E-mail recording questions

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Copper Contributor
Posts: 53
Country: USA
Accepted Solution

E-mail recording questions

We just set up Act e-mail recording from Outlook. We have an Exchange server. This brings up a question. Although a user-level description of the process will do, I would prefer some technical detail on exactly how Act interacts with MAPI so that I can understand better how this works.

 

  1. When a user switches computers in an Exchange environment, what exactly does Act do in relation to Outlook messages? Case in point: I went through the E-mail Setup Wizard when logged into Act as an end user on the server that hosts the database, not realizing that the user had already done this at the workstation and not understanding that the configuration was workstation-specific. This caused the user's e-mail recording to quit working on her computer. When I discovered this four days later, I went (on the user's computer) into Tools → Preferences and, on the second page of the E-mail Setup Wizard, clicked the link to restore e-mail, then canceled when asked to browse for a transfer file. Immediately, the missing messages began showing up in the User History List in Act. I infer that Act was using the MAPI connection to go through the history on the user's computer to retrieve the messages that had never made it into the Act database in the interim. But how does it know what was there before and what was not? Does the Act message database store Exchange message ID's?
  2. Similarly, what happens when a user sends an e-mail to an Act contact from a cell phone that uses the same Exchange account? I think I can very safely assume that nothing happens at that point. But what about when the user then returns to the computer and opens Outlook--at which point the item sent from the cell phone shows up in the user's Sent Items because it is already on the Exchange server? Will the item send from the cell phone now show up in Act?

#1 above would tend to make me think that Act is not simply recording messages as they are sent but actually going through message history to find already-sent items that have not yet been recording in the Act e-mail database. Otherwise, how did it know to bring in the missing messages? If this is true as a generality, then #2 should also result in messages in an Exchange mailbox but originating from other devices eventually working their way into the Act message database as the user interacts with Outlook. On the other hand, this theory leaves me a bit perplexed as to exactly how the connection works, and if there are any implications tied to whether Exchange cached mode is enabled or not in the user's Outlook profile.

 

I know I could just wait to see what happens, but a bit more technical detail would be reassuring to this geek...


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Accepted by topic author Brain
‎11-14-2016 07:25 AM
Administrator
Posts: 4,024
Country: United_Kingdom

Re: E-mail recording questions

Hi Brain,

 

Here are answers to your questions above. Please let me know if you would like further clarification on any of the points.

 

  1. The Act! integration with Outlook is a local integration. If it is set up on multiple PC’s, these integrations should not interact with each other in any way. The process of recording the email to history is triggered at the point of sending an email. The email is then stored in a history queue on that PC and the Act.Outlook.service process on that PC then transfers this to Act! almost immediately, although sometimes the process can stall. When it restarts again the emails in the history queue will be attached. I would suppose that this is what happened in your scenario and something that you did while investigating the issue caused the process to start recording history again. There some more detailed information on this process in the following Knowledgebase article: http://kb.act.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/19177
  2. If an email is sent from a cell phone then this will not be recorded in Act! automatically. Although once it appears in the sent items in their Outlook profile, it could be attached manually using the ‘Attach to Act Contacts’ or ‘Quick Attach’ options.

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Solution
Accepted by topic author Brain
‎11-14-2016 07:25 AM
Administrator
Posts: 4,024
Country: United_Kingdom

Re: E-mail recording questions

Hi Brain,

 

Here are answers to your questions above. Please let me know if you would like further clarification on any of the points.

 

  1. The Act! integration with Outlook is a local integration. If it is set up on multiple PC’s, these integrations should not interact with each other in any way. The process of recording the email to history is triggered at the point of sending an email. The email is then stored in a history queue on that PC and the Act.Outlook.service process on that PC then transfers this to Act! almost immediately, although sometimes the process can stall. When it restarts again the emails in the history queue will be attached. I would suppose that this is what happened in your scenario and something that you did while investigating the issue caused the process to start recording history again. There some more detailed information on this process in the following Knowledgebase article: http://kb.act.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/19177
  2. If an email is sent from a cell phone then this will not be recorded in Act! automatically. Although once it appears in the sent items in their Outlook profile, it could be attached manually using the ‘Attach to Act Contacts’ or ‘Quick Attach’ options.
Copper Contributor
Posts: 53
Country: USA

Re: E-mail recording questions

Thank you, Gary.

 

I should clarify one thing, though: when I went to Tools → Preferences and, on the second page of the E-mail Setup Wizard, clicked the link to restore e-mail, then canceled when asked to browse for a transfer file, all the e-mail for the past four days began appearing in the Act History. It was not just e-mails sent after that point; it was e-mails sent from that computer. So I inferred that 1) either the process of recording the e-mails continued, but the process of sending them to Act was paused, or 2) Act was actually reading through what had been sent from that computer in the interim.

 

It sounds like you are confirming the first of those: that the recording process continued but the insertion of those records into the Act message database was put on hold. It is noteworthy, though, that it was when I logged into Act as that user on the SQL server machine and went through that wizard, where there was no local Outlook installed, that was the moment e-mails quit being recorded. It could have been coincidence, but it seems more like cause and effect.

 

I will dig more into that KB to get my brain wrapped around the process.

 

Thank you again!

Copper Contributor
Posts: 53
Country: USA

Re: E-mail recording questions

The plot thickened somewhat today. After some serious experimentation where it seemed that Outlook → Act e-mail recording was randomly on & off, I think (so far) that it turns out that the Act.Outlook.Service.exe has to be running on the workstation in order to actually transfer e-mails to Act. That is, they are apparently queued up as they are sent from Outlook but do not appear in Act until the workstation starts that program. Now, I have no idea why/how they were working for a month and then just quit one day last week, but at this point, it seems consistent that I have to start this at user logon (or thereafter) in order for e-mails to show up in Act. And, of course, it is not actually a service. So I put a shortcut to that into what amounts to the Public Startup folder: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup.

 

Naturally enough, though, this works on all my Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) computers, but not on the one Windows 10 computer. I am still working on figuring out that one. I am also finding inconsistencies in how the application is installed; the one Windows 10 computer also had a shortcut to "C:\Program Files (x86)\ACT\Act for Windows\Act!.Integration.exe" D (yes, with the "D" argument) in that folder, whereas none of the Windows 7 computers had that. So I am not sure how that is related to the rest of the setup and am still working on getting Outlook/Act integration working on Windows 10.

Copper Contributor
Posts: 53
Country: USA

Re: E-mail recording questions

Here are two more tidbits that might save someone else from taking overly-long to troubleshoot this issue some day. I had two Windows 10 workstations, both of which I was testing concurrently. One had Outlook 2013, the other had Outlook 2016.

 

1. I made a grand, but probably still excusable, blunder in my lengthy diagnosis & testing that entirely masked the fact that Act e-mail recording was working on one station but not the other: I kept sending test messages with a subject but no e-mail body. I probably spent two hours very carefully duplicating my efforts across a variety of OS (Windows 7 & 10), Office versions (2010, 2013, & 2016) stations, under different user accounts and looking through the AppData folders where the user's Act/Outlook e-mail transfer files are stored before I finally just took the XML error log entry "<message>Value cannot be null" very literally and realized that messages with no body will not be recorded. That  makes sense now. Still, I test e-mail for so many purposes (i.e. outside Act) that I am very much in the habit of just popping a subject into a test message and sending, and it simply never occurred to me to ensure I had a message body. The same thing also prevented me from successfully attaching copies of those same messages to Act. On top of this, neither adding users (with Outlook/Act working at their own station) to the station to test, nor adding this user to one of those stations, solved the problem for yet another closely-related but not immediately-apparent reason: a newly-created Outlook user profile has no e-mail signature, so there was, by default, nothing in the body. And it was no wonder I could find nothing in the KB or forum regarding "Value cannot be null" with respect to e-mail messages. But for anyone reading this, it might save some time to know the simple fact that testing Outlook/Act e-mail does require a message body. The instant I added a body, things began working correctly on one of my Windows 10 stations. The other one, though, was not even getting errors in the Outlook/Act sync folder, so I knew something more significant was amiss.

2. This, then, finally revealed that the one station that was failing to correctly record e-mails was the one that, due to some quirk of the state of the Act download on the particular day I originally installed Act, had both the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable 2008 & 2010 files installed. While I am still not certain that was the particular cause, I did a reinstall of Act and found that attempting to install Act when there are orphaned instances of any of the prior C++ packages (in this case, left over from my installation of Act two months ago), I first had to uninstall the orphaned C++ stuff. That is, I had to uninstall instances that were installed on a data that did not seem to coincide with any other program installation. Once this was done, I would not get errors on the first (C++) portion of Act setup.

 

But even after all that, it turned out that Outlook/Act would work for one user and not the other--a dead giveaway that, in addition to my other issues, I had a corrupt user profile. So this user, in the end, also required removal/re-creation of the local user Windows profile, after which everything is working.

 

But two words to the wise

 

1. If you select both subject & message body for Outlook/Act recording, it will not just allow, but require a message body for every message.

2. What I posted earlier in this thread remains true and was based on some deficiency in the Act setup: I had to manually add a shortcut to Act.Outlook.Service.exe to the startup folder for the computer so that it loads regardless of which user logs on. Without that, no e-mail recording worked. This was true across all computers, not just the two Windows 10 computers.