My heart palpitates at the thought of receiving 'Zugesagt: The big feature!'

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/06/06 13:01 -04:00, original URI:

There are all kinds of special messages that Microsoft Outlook will send.

Like when you accept a meeting request, or reject one, or propose a new time.

The interesting (well, maybe not so interesting) part about this is that it is done in the UI language of the sender, not of the receiver.

So I send out a meeting request entitled The Big Meeting! and eagerly await responses.

Some come back as Accepted: The Big Meeting! and others as Declined: The Big Meeting! and so on.

And then when colleague Erik over on the MUI team responds, it says Zugesagt: The Big Meeting! and this is because Erik has his UI language set to German.

Now keep in mind this is NOT what Outlook does with date formats or time zones associated with the date of the item when it is received -- those items are based on the receiver's settings.

Since the purpose of a message is to communicate, I think it really is a much better design to use the settings of the receiver of the message, so that even if I do not know what Zugesagt means I still can get the intended message.

As designs go that just makes more sense to me. The Developer in me imagines potential solutions that might work, the Technical Lead in me imagines who I might talk to if I wanted to see someone consider a change. Or maybe that's the Program Manager. Hey, the tester in me imagines what kinds of weird funky settings could be used to try and break it.

It is very crowded in me, at times like this. :-)

Of course Outlook has been doing it this way for a long time so I don't know how receptive they would be to a change here. But maybe I can hope....


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Mike Dimmick on 6 Jun 2007 4:04 PM:

It's embedded in the Subject field, so here we're into parsing the subject field, and as a developer that gives me the heebie-jeebies. Any decision made on user-supplied freeform data is likely to head off into Clippy-style 'It looks like you're writing a letter' territory.

The same problem occurs with the simple prefix 'RE:' which in German is 'AW:' for Antwort and I've seen 'SV:' as well. Not sure if Outlook handles all these now, but in previous versions you could easily see a subject line of 'Re: AW: SV: Re: SV: AW: stuff' as the message made its way across users using different languages.

Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Jun 2007 5:39 PM:

For custom forms they design like the "meeting response" form, they could do something smarter here to put the right string in there when it is read. It is a very controlled environment....

Dean Harding on 6 Jun 2007 7:47 PM:

Actually calendar-based requests in Outlook follow RFC 2445 (I don't know how closely it follows that standard and whether deviations are already made -- which would make further deviations not such a big deal [perhaps "extensions" would be the better word?])

At least, that's for email that passes through an SMTP server. If it's all done inside exchange, I assume it's something totally different...

But still, it's something that could be done outside of the subject line I suppose.

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referenced by

2008/07/18 The prefix problem isn't getting any easier, or better

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