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Product feedback

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Product feedback

Postby blc0002 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:59 pm

Outlook 2003 SP2
Exchange mail

I tested your free trial product for my company and thought you might be interested why I decided not to use it.

1. Topic folder organization was too restrictive

We have very limited space on our Exchange server, which requires us to use local .pst files for most of our mail. That also means we are responsible for our own email backups. I like to have more than one .pst file to make it easier to manage backups. For example, I have one .pst file that contains my active projects, which needs the most frequent backing up. I could not find a way for ClearContext IMS to manage multiple Topics folders on different .pst files.

I also disliked the requirement for a top level ClearContext Topic folder. I would like the option for the Topics folder to be the top level of my .pst folder to minimize the levels of sub-folders needed.

2. AutoAssign Rules were not robust

One feature I was interested in was the rules engine, to get over the 32k rules limit of Exchange. Unfortunately, the rules options were too simple. I was hoping they would be at least as useful as the built-in Outlook rules (like having an "except when" rule, etc). I was really hoping that it would have a logical OR function, which is not available in the Outlook rules (they are AND only).

3. Automatic priority assignment was not configurable enough

I wanted to assign the highest priority to message that were to me only. I configured the "Message Directness" option to maximum and everything else to minimum, but the highest a direct email to me would be prioritized was Low.

Then I tried to assign priority using the AutoAssign rules. There was no option to look for emails that were addressed to me only. So my rule would end up covering emails to me only, or to me with other people. This points back to the limited rules support.


I think the concept of the product is great, it just needs some more configuration options.
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Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:01 pm

Postby brad » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:21 am

Thanks for taking the time to submit such detailed product feedback. This is how we make the product better. I would like to address some of your points:

1. We do support designating that the CC Topic folder reside in another datastore. Fore more detail see How to Avoid Exceeding Your Mail File Size Limit and our User Guide.

To the requirement that all CC folders reside under one folder - we do this for performance reasons. ClearContext monitors Topic folder to work some of its magic, including assigning new Topics and/or changing Topics whene messages are moved around these folders. When we monitor all folders in the active mail file, this could have an impact on the overall performance of Outlook. All that said, we are continuing to look at this part of the UI to find new ways to deisgnate Topic folders.

2. We have been asked before to make AutoAssign rules more complex. However, we have also been told that AutoAssign is much easier to use for simple rule creation. As discussed in this post, we do not intend for AutoAssign to be a replacement for Outlook Rules. We do plan on integrating CC functionality into Outlook Rules so that our customers can create more complex rules to assign CC Topics and Priorities from within the native Outlook interface.

3. Thanks for pointing this out. You may be able to achieve what you want if, instead of dragging all other factors to zero, you leave them at their default and bump message priority all the way to the top. As for setting up a rule to designate priority for messages sent to you and only to you, this will be available when we provide integration with Outlook rules.

Thanks again for your detailed feedback - we really appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts on the product.
Brad Meador
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:35 pm

Postby blc0002 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:04 pm

Thanks for the response. I reinstalled IMS so I could look at some of the things you mentioned.

1. Yes, I had previously found how to configure a different data store, but there does not seem to be a way to configure multiple (which agrees with your comments). It would be nice to store to one datastore that needs to be backed up weekly, and a second that only needs to be backed up monthly. Sounds like that's not on the roadmap. My workaround would be to back up the one monolithic datastore weekly, which is less than ideal, but not impossible.

2. I'll be interested to see how the Outlook Rules integration works out

3. I assme you meant I should bump Message Directness (not priority) all the way to the top, leaving the others at default levels. I did that, and still see the same problem. Some of the direct emails are prioritized High, but others are prioritized Low, I assume because of other parameters.

Having played with the product a little more, here is some more feedback:

4. I'd really like some entries on the right-click context menu...specifically I'd like to be able to

* File Msg/Thread/Topic
* Select Topic
* Create auto-assign rule

Having to mouse to the ClearContext toolbar area is cumbersome.

5. Make ClearContext views available in all folders, not just Inbox. Perhaps this is just a problem in my installation, but I can only display message in ClearContext view format in /Inbox. Some of my Outlook rules sort to sub-folders of /Inbox, and the views do not seem to be available.
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Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:01 pm

Postby blc0002 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:05 pm

6. There should be a friendly way to organize and rename topics.

I decided I wanted to move some topics under one sub-folder. The topics assigned to the messages in these folders did not automatically adjust to match the new location.

I also tried renaming a topic folder. Again, the topics of the messages in the folders still had the old name, and both the new and old names were in the topic drop down.

It would be really nice if the Topic Tree was editable and would automatically adjust your assigned topics accordingly.
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Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:01 pm

Postby brad » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:09 pm

1. Actually, in v3 you can set up a secondary PST file for Topic storage. See our User Guide on sharing for more detail.

4. I would really like to have right click menus as well. For Outlook 2003 and earlier, there is no context menu Outlook API available that will allow us to act on messages. For Outlook 2007, the Outlook team has provided a new API that will support this and we plan to take advantage of it in a future release, but we will not be able to provide this functionality for earlier versions of Outlook.

5. There's some discussion on the implications behind this here. If you wanted to, you could manually copy the ClearContext Prioritized views to other folders via Views > Current View > Define Views.

Thanks as always for your feedback.
Brad Meador
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:35 pm

Postby blc0002 » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:25 pm

1. I'll check out the secondary store. I played with it before, but had difficulty with it.

Not sure if you saw my #6 above as I accidentally replied to myself on it...and here's another one:

7. Auto-assign rules and assigning topics should be allowed in all folders, not just Inbox

I'm busily organizing my Topics folders and want to grab some messages out of an old folder and put it into the new Topics folder. I would like to use the same rule I created to automatically assign the topic in my Inbox to this old folder, then be able to file it away into the Topics folder.

The only workarounds I can find right now are: manually find and move the messages, create a temporary Outlook rule to find and move the messages, or move all the messages from the folder into my Inbox and use CCIMS to help sort through them. It should be easier than that.
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Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:01 pm

Postby brad » Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:55 pm

#6. We store topic assignments in a hidden thread record table. This is the ultimate arbiter of which Topic is assigned to which thread. This table is updated when a Topic is manually assigned, when an AutoAssign rule assigns a Topic, or when a message is dragged into a Topic folder. You are correct that the thread table is not updated when a folder name is changed or a folder is dragged from one location to another. As a workaround, create a folder with the new name and drag the contents of the old folder to the new folder - this will result in new Topic assignments.

#7. You can assign Topics manually within an alternate Topic folder and file the thread. Another workaround for you may be to assign Topics to each thread in the folder, highlight all, and click file Topic, moving all messages from the folder into their newly assigned Topic folder. This will only work in Topic folders, however, not native Outlook folders that aren't part of the CC Topic folder structure.

I hope this information helps.
Brad Meador
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:35 pm

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