Sharing contacts in Outlook 2002

"How do I share my contacts with the others in my organisation?  We use Outlook 2002"

In Outlook 2000, sharing contacts (or any other folder) was easy.  You chose a folder, made it shared, defined who had access to it and Outlook took care of the rest.  Since Outlook 2002, however, the situation has changed.  Now, all sharing functionality is dependent upon Microsoft's Exchange Server , which handles the centralising of all email, calendar and contact options for an organisation.  

So, if your organisation has not invested the money, the time or the effort involved in Exchange, which does require an investment many charities might consider substantial, then what can you do?

Online Calendars

There are online calendars, e.g. plaxo , which will synchronise with Outlook.  Plaxo has a toolbar which handles the synchronisation, and any Outlook instance you choose can use your central plaxo contacts list.

External Sources

Outlook will  accept contacts lists from external sources.  It can work with the LDAP protocol of directory access, which is an application protocol for querying and modifying directory services running over a network. 

So then the question is, where can you get something to provide an LDAP service?

One place to start is the Apache Software Foundation.  They are the people who made the web server software upon which most of the the Web runs.  They have created the Apache Directory Server , which is free to download.  Whilst the server is capable of performing many functions and integrating with many things, use as an address book is a common need, so in the basic documentation is included an article on  "Integrating Apache DS with other programs (Mozilla Thunderbird)".  The procedure is very similar for Outlook.

In Outlook 2002, choose Tools>Email Accounts>Add new directory>LDAP directory

Fill in the details of the LDAP server et voila!