Using Disclaimer in Exchange Server 2010

Introduction

 

It has been a while since the “Disclaimer Fun” and “Using Transport Rules: Creating Disclaimers in Exchange Server 2007” articles by my fellow MVP Rui J. M. Silva have been released. Even after two releases, the Disclaimer has received new capabilities to improve its overall function. In this article, we are going to take a look at some these new features.

 

Straight off the bat, in Exchange Server 2010, we can now use HTML code and also Active Directory information in a disclaimer Transport Rule, expanding the horizon for any organization by, for example, including a global disclaimer based on Active Directory attributes without the use of third-party tools.

 

In the first two sections of this article we are going to see how to add HTML and Active Directory information. In the last section, we are going to put all the pieces together and demonstrate the new features.

 

Note:
Exchange Server 2010 is a Beta product and must not be installed in a production environment.

 

Using HTML…

 

We can use HTML in the Disclaimer Transport Rule. To cut a long story short, during the disclaimer text we can add HTML tags such as <b>Bold Text </b>, <i> Italic text </i>, <center> Centralized text </center> and so forth. If you did not get what I just described, then it is obvious that you need to learn a little bit more about HTML tags. Do not worry; it is not a big deal as there is plenty of information online. If you prefer, you can check this site out for a more detailed course on HTML. You do not need to be a webmaster in this case, but some basic HTML tags will help you in creating better disclaimers for your organization. You can always use HTML editors to create HTML code, there plenty of them available for download.

 

Using Active Directory fields

 

Another cool feature that can be used by disclaimer transport rules is the ability to add the user’s Active Directory objects on the fly in the disclaimer. In order to add an attribute we need to use the current syntax: %%AttributeName%%, where attribute name is the attribute that you want to show up in the disclaimer.

 

Putting the pieces together…

 

Now that we know how to use HTML and Active Directory attributes in a disclaimer Transport Rule, we can use both of them to create a really cool disclaimer that can be used by the entire organization, using a standard for all users at server level without playing with Outlook/OWA clients.

 

Let us take a simple scenario as an example: Your Company wants to get rid of the Outlook disclaimer created by their end-users and replace it with a global disclaimer using transport rules. This disclaimer must contain users’ data, such as Full Name, telephone and some other relevant attributes. The company understands that in order to deploy a disclaimer using Active Directory information, the users’ information in Active Directory should be up-to-date, or at least, containing the minimum information required.

 

Our first step is to create a scratch of the future disclaimer and we are going to use the following template:

 

Anderson Patricio
IT Support – MSExchange.org
171 1st Street  – Toronto – Ontario – X1X Y2S
Telephone: (416) 111-2222 / Fax: (416) 333-4444 / Mobile: (416) 555-6666
The content of this e-mail (including any attachments) is strictly confidential and may be commercially sensitive. If you are not, or believe you may not be, the intended recipient, please advise the sender immediately by return e-mail, delete this e-mail and destroy any copies.

 

So far so good, now we need to retrieve the user Active Directory attributes for all fields that we are going to use in our new disclaimer. You can accomplish this task by taking a user with all that information filled out and then use ADSIEdit.msc to retrieve the information, ldap, csvde and etc… However, we are really excited about Exchange Server 2010, especially one of the new management features called view PowerShell Command to help us out.

 

Let us open the Exchange Management Console, and double click on the designated user that we will use for our tests. Keep in mind that our newly created template, since we are going use it to search for all the information for our test user.

 

With the user’s properties page opened, for each field that contains data related to our template, we are going to add a letter (in our example, we are going to add a capital X at the end of each field that we want to know the attribute name). We are not going to apply these changes but we will track down all the attributes names using that new feature that we mentioned before.

 

The field name we will find on the tab User Information (Figure 01), and on Address and Phone tab we will find a lot of fields that are required by our disclaimer template (Figure 02).

 


Figure 01

 


Figure 02

 

Finally, on the Organization tab we will find the company name, and after changing the last field that we need in our template, let us click on Show Exchange Management Shell command button that is enabled on the left bottom of the current window, as shown in Figure 03.

 


Figure 03

 

As soon as we click on that button, the PowerShell command that will be executed will pop up. Since we added one letter for each attribute that we want in our disclaimer, we can easily identify the attribute name that we are going to use in our disclaimer transport rule, as shown in Figure 04.

 


Figure 04

 

Okay, now we have enough information to create our transport rule. Let us create a small table with the information collected in this last step:

 

 

 

Template

 

Active Directory Attribute

 

Transport Rule entry

 

Anderson Patricio

 

DisplayName

 

%%DisplayName%%

 

Toronto

 

City

 

%%City%%

 

MSExchange.org

 

Company

 

%%Company%%

 

IT Support

 

Department

 

%%Department%%

 

(416) 333-4444

 

Fax

 

%% Fax%%

 

(416) 555-6666

 

MobilePhone

 

%% MobilePhone%%

 

(416) 111-2222

 

Phone

 

%%Phone%%

 

X1X Y2S

 

PostalCode

 

%%PostalCode%%

 

Ontario

 

StateOrProvince

 

%%StateOrProvince%%

 

171 1st Street

 

StreetAddress

 

%%StreetAddress%%

 

We already have a template, attribute names, and now it is time to add the HTML code to the mix and create our disclaimer using the information collected in the previous step, the HTML code will be similar to the following code:

 

<hr>

 

<b>%%DisplayName%%</b><br>

 

<font size=small>

 

%%Department%% – %%Company%% <br>

 

%%StreetAddress%% – %%City%% – %%StateOrProvince%% – %%PostalCode%% <br>

 

Telephone: %%Phone%% / Fax: %%Fax%% / Mobile: %%MobilePhone%%<br><br>

 

</font>

 

<h5> <font color=gray>

 

The content of this e-mail (including any attachments) is strictly confidential and may be commercially sensitive. If you are not, or believe you may not be, the intended recipient, please advise the sender immediately by return e-mail, delete this e-mail and destroy any copies.

 

</h5>

 

We are now all set to create and test our new rule, in order to create the transport rule, the following steps can be performed:

 

 

  1. Open Exchange Management Console

     

  2. Expand Microsoft Exchange on-premises

     

  3. Expand Organization Configuration

     

  4. Click on Hub Transport

     

  5. Click on Transport Rules tab

     

  6. Click on New Transport rule in the Toolbox Actions

     

  7. On the Introduction Page. Label the new Transport rule (Disclaimer for example) and click on Next

     

  8. On Conditions page, tick the item from users that are inside or outside the organization, the default setting is Internal, just click on Next

     

  9. On Actions Page, tick the item append disclaimer text and failback to action if unable to apply and then click on disclaimer text link on Step 2 of the same page

     

  10. Copy and paste the code that we have just created above using the Active Directory attributes and HTML content and click on OK and Next

     

  11. On the Create Rule page. Click on New (Figure 05)


Figure 05

 

Now it is time for a test, and we will do this by sending a message. Basically, I am going to send an internal message and see if the disclaimer that was created by our Disclaimer Transport Rule works. (Figure 06)

 


Figure 06

 

Updating Active Directory…

 

Another cool feature of Exchange Server 2010 is the ability to allow regular users to change their information using a new interface called ECP (Exchange Control Panel). This new interface also has other improvements such as the ability to allow end-users to track messages, join and manage groups and so on. All these features are controlled by a new security model called RBAC (Role Based Access Control), which means that an administrator can control which features and even fields (for example) the user can play with, within their ECP session.

 

In order to demonstrate the new interface, any logged user on OWA can click on Options and he/she will receive the ECP page (Figure 07). If he/she then clicks on Edit, a user will be able to change their personal information. This would essentially mean that the user will have some sort of control of the data that is going to be added to the disclaimer (Figure 08).

 


Figure 07

 


Figure 08

 

Conclusion

 

In this article we saw how to use some of the new Transport Rule Features in order to create a global and flexible disclaimer for an organization using users’ Active Directory attributes and HTML. We also saw some of the new exciting features of Exchange Server 2010 such as ECP.

 

Once again, Exchange Server 2010 is a beta product and must not be used in a production environment. Some of the features/screens demonstrated in this article may change in the final release of the product.

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