I often harp about the fact that Microsoft Exchange administrators need to become more development- and Microsoft .NET-savvy, but how do we find time to learn? One solution is to look at the Exchange 2000 Server Developer Enablement Kit.

At first glance, the Developer Enablement Kit appears to be a new offering. However, the kit simply repackages the Exchange Platform Software Development Kit (SDK) and adds white papers, tutorials, videos, and sample code that introduce you to the Exchange Server development platform and discuss .NET concepts such as Web services and the .NET Framework. The kit also includes a trial version of IT Factory's Development Center for Microsoft.

The Exchange Platform SDK has been around since Exchange Server 5.5, but the Exchange 2000 SDK December 2001 update has substantial enhancements and centers around Microsoft's .NET initiative, the .NET Framework, and Visual Studio.NET. The Exchange 2000 SDK includes several key components: the Exchange 5.5 SDK (pre- .NET and Web services), Documentation and Samples (make sure you get the December 2001 update), Development Tools, Application Templates, Workflow Application Template, and a beta version of the Exchange Issue Tracking application.

Exchange 2000 SDK Components
The Exchange 2000 SDK December 2001 update's Documentation and Samples component includes Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) code samples and a Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) sample application. This component also includes sample calendaring and scheduling applications, Instant Messaging components and documentation, a security module, and other sample applications.

The Exchange 2000 SDK Development Tools component includes Exchange Explorer, an updated Exchange Application Deployment Wizard, support for packaging and deploying applications on Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2001, the Exchange Store Event Sink Wizard for Microsoft Visual Basic (VB) 6.0, and a Workflow Configuration Scripts Security module to help you add security to your applications.

The Exchange 2000 SDK Application Templates component includes a contacts application template that demonstrates how to manage your team's contacts programmatically and how to incorporate Exchange Instant Messaging into your applications to provide presence information. The TeamToDo template incorporates Exchange Workflow to help teams track and complete their tasks. The Group Calendar template extends Exchange's calendaring capabilities to help manage group events. Last, but not least, the Workflow Application template provides a collaborative Web site that enables communication, document sharing, and document approval among team members.

If you're looking for an example of a .NET application for Exchange Server, check out the Exchange Server SDK Issue Tracking application beta. The Issue Tracking application demonstrates how to create advanced Exchange 2000 Server-based ASP.NET applications with Visual Studio.NET (shipping this week). The Issue Tracking application runs within the Microsoft .NET Framework and lets groups track problems among people in other groups, companies, or organizations. The companies, contacts, and issues information is saved in an Exchange store, and you can view the information using the Issue Tracking application, Microsoft Outlook, or other custom applications that have access to the Exchange Public Folders hierarchy.

Now that Visual Studio.NET is shipping, the time is right to begin your journey into Microsoft's .NET initiative. The Exchange Developer Enablement Kit is a first step on your path. The kit will help you become not only a more useful Exchange administrator but a true .NET architect, expanding your horizons and marketability. You can order the Exchange Developer Enablement Kit at the URL below. If you want only the most recent version of the Exchange 2000 Server SDK, you can download it from the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Web site.