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Thread: Entourage 2008 -> ActiveSync -> Zimbra

  1. #1
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    Default Entourage 2008 -> ActiveSync -> Zimbra

    Since it seems that using CalDAV to sync calendars between Zimbra and Entourage 2008 is a non-starter (due to Microsoft), has anyone examined to possibility of using the Exchange Server Impersonation features of Zimbra server to make Entourage think it's connecting to an Exchange server instead?

    I'm assuming that Entourage uses ActiveSync to communicate with an Exchange server the way that Windows Mobile/IPhone devices do. If that is, in fact, the case, what would it take to get Entourage to use the same conduit? If not, has any thought been given to enhancing the Zimbra backend until such a connection is possible?

    Thanks,

    Brian

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    Entourage uses WebDAV (an extension of http) to communicate with an Exchange server, basically via the same portion of Exchange that provides their "Outlook Web Access" web interface. So I don't think your proposal will work, technically.

    What I think could work would be to provide the bare WebDAV functionality (not sure if Zimbra does this outside of CalDAV, which is an extended special version of WebDAV) and emulate the data format that Exchange uses to share calendar data with Entourage. I believe it's written in XML; I came across someone out there at one point who'd written something to parse the Exchange output and read it into iCal. So to provide Entourage support, you'd do the same thing, sort of in reverse.

    If Zimbra included this it would indeed be welcome.

    EDIT: Here's the info I found on "scraping" Exchange's WebDAV interface for calendar data:

    Peter Krantz: Exporting Exchange calendars to Apple iCal over HTTP and WebDAV
    Ryan Hadley: Goodbye Outlook
    rexchange
    Last edited by ewilen; 12-19-2008 at 10:17 AM. Reason: added resources

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewilen View Post
    Entourage uses WebDAV (an extension of http) to communicate with an Exchange server, basically via the same portion of Exchange that provides their "Outlook Web Access" web interface. So I don't think your proposal will work, technically.
    Thanks for the correction in my assumption!

    What I think could work would be to provide the bare WebDAV functionality (not sure if Zimbra does this outside of CalDAV, which is an extended special version of WebDAV) and emulate the data format that Exchange uses to share calendar data with Entourage. I believe it's written in XML; I came across someone out there at one point who'd written something to parse the Exchange output and read it into iCal. So to provide Entourage support, you'd do the same thing, sort of in reverse.

    If Zimbra included this it would indeed be welcome.

    EDIT: Here's the info I found on "scraping" Exchange's WebDAV interface for calendar data:

    Peter Krantz: Exporting Exchange calendars to Apple iCal over HTTP and WebDAV
    Ryan Hadley: Goodbye Outlook
    rexchange
    It would be very nice if they could do the whole thing instead of just calendars. It would be better by far to beat Microsoft into supporting CalDAV, but I expect I'll have better luck squawking at Zimbra than I will squawking at Microsoft.

    Then again, I've seen a lot of folks yelling about the lack of inclusion of CalDAV functionality in Entourage 2008 (particularly since, IIRC, that functionality is present in Outlook 2007).

    Here's hoping something happens somehow, as I'd really like to be able to use Entourage for my calendar, and I'm not going to be able to do that until some sort of reliable synchronization conduit that supports multiple calendars is developed for Zimbra -> Entourage.

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    You're welcome, Brian. I believe that the Exchange<->Entourage interface is IMAP for email, and this weird WebDAV/xml combo for everything else. So "all" someone would have to do would be to solve the WebDAV/xml issue and Entourage would work pretty much just as well with Zimbra as with Exchange.

    You'll still have the limitations of Entourage, though. Notably, it doesn't share its task list or notes with the server. I suppose it'd be possible to do something on the client machine (possibly using a combination of iSync, AppleScript, and/or iCal) to sync those with Zimbra.

    Outlook doesn't work natively with CalDAV; the only reason it functions as more than an email client for Zimbra and certain other non-MS servers is that people went to the trouble of writing connectors for it. There is a group which is working on a generic CalDAV connector for Outlook: The Open Outlook Connector Project

    I'm not sure what you would give up relative to Entourage, but my testing suggests that Apple's Mail + iCal 3.0 could provide an effective combination for mail and group scheduling with Zimbra. You'd still have to do some things via Zimbra's web interface, but they're not things you're likely to need to do very often (like delegating calendars and server-based mail folders, and creating server-side filters). Mozilla Thunderbird+Lightning/Sunbird is another possibility; it isn't quite there yet, but we can expect progress since, unlike Microsoft, Mozilla doesn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into supporting open standards.

    And of course there's also Zimbra Desktop, but you need an Intel Mac and it currently has some fairly noticeable bugs (on top of not being a very Mac-like app). On the other hand, it offers pretty much all the goodness of the web interface.

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    Looks like Microsoft will be helping us all out on this one.

    Expo: Microsoft to enhance Entourage Exchange, SharePoint on the Mac | Working Mac | Macworld

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    OK, but does this mean it will/can sync with Zimbra?

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    Not unless someone writes the code to emulate Exchange Web Services. But EWS might be easier to emulate than the existing format, particularly as it seems some or all of the documentation for EWS is publicly available: Exchange Web Services Reference

    (Searching on the net I even came across a java EWS client and Mac OS widget client, so there are people who've managed to puzzle it out from the client side.)

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    Default Microsoft Entourage EWS Public Beta

    Take a look at this:

    http://www.microsoft.com/mac/itpros/entourage-ews.mspx

    It was announced during MacWorld.

    Granted, this is just a beta at this time, and as such there are obviously no guarantees it will work with Zimbra at all. But the prospects are good. However, over time, my guess is that it probably will. I haven't tested it myself yet, but will as soon as I have time.

    Report back if you try it.

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