Centralized Address Book, and integrating with Windows and my iPod

Since my move from hosting crazy-train.net (and therefore, my primary email address) I switched to fully using my Google Account (jmlumpkin) for just about EVERYTHING. This includes chatting, calendar (I really couldn’t live without it), and gmail, of course.

Before the move, the one thing that I was trying to use Outlook 2003 for was contact management. But, of course, Outlook is a little large for just doing that, and therefore, I was stuck looking for an option to hold all of my contacts. While I could just pour them all into Gmail, that still wasnt my central area of messaging, and I wanted to have something that Debs could work on to. I could continue to use Outlook, but I would LOVE to have some way of sharing these contacts with Debs.

Then, I found this. A php site that runs on a MySQL database, where I can manage contacts, groups, mailing lists, as well as keep a few notes. The install was pretty simple, just set up my database, edited the config file, and installed the DB Schema. 15 minutes later, I had central area for Debs and I to record all of our contacts. I wish we had this durring the wedding 🙂

But I got to thinking afterwards, wouldnt it be cool to have a little Windows program that would interface with this? It would be just like Windows Address Book, but pull from the Database that was being used for TAB. I could program this one afternoon after work, hand it to Debs, and be done. But, that doesnt solve much.

So then I tried looking into how Windows Address Book handles its files. It saves, by default, a username.wab file in the Application Support folder of the user. The bad news, these files look binary. On the mac it is much different, all of your AddressBook entries are saved in .plist (XML) files.

Searching around online, there were very few topics about how to read and edit these files, other than adding stuff like a wab32.dll and the wab.exe file to your project. But still then, no real instructions on how to actually DO anything past that. I do plan to dig a little deeper on this subject though, since it would be one of the best routes to take. Basically one would write a ‘syncing’ program that would fetch all new entries from the MySQL server, dump them into your WAB, and then check any new entries in your WAB and move them up to the server.

Another route, of course, is to go back to Outlook 2003, and use some type of .NET/Office plugin (Microsoft offers such a thing actually). Pour my contacts into Outlook, and I am good to go. This route may actually be a little better than the previous, because I already pull my Calendars down from gCal into Outlook. Then, when at home, I can use Outlook to manage notifications and the like.

The added benifit of course with syncing to WAB or Outlook is that iTunes has managed somehow to connect to it, and can then sync those contacts and my calendar to my iPod.

While I have really stoped development on my iTunes addition, I may pick up this Calendar program now to just get it done. After learning the Office API from MS, this should take no time at all (just have to generate the right SQL to get what I need from the DB). I will post updates over time from what I learn.

Listening To: ‘For Martha’ by The Smashing Pumpkins

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