by June 30, 2004 0 comments



In the last few months, we’ve looked at some of the advanced features of MS Exchange 2003 (such as RPC over HTTP and mobile device access). This month, we take a break from the high-tech stuff and show you something light that you can do in your spare time-and yet provide your company an important branding opportunity. 

By default, OWA (Outlook Web Access) appears in a standard blue theme for all the users. However, by going to the Options page and selecting the color scheme from the drop down, you can set your own color scheme. 

To understand the structure of the themes, browse to Program Files>Exchsrvr>exchweb>themes. This folder contains five subfolders named 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each of these subfolders constitutes a single theme. Go to any of these folders and you will see nine .gif files and one .css file. The table below describes these files. 

Direct
Hit!
Applies
to:
MS Exchange server administrators
USP:
Customize Outlook Web Access to add your company’s branding to it
Links:
www.microsoft.com/exchange 

Now that you know these files, it is quite easy to modify them. There are two ways to do this. 

The first way is to simply modify one or more of the existing themes with colors and your company logo. Replace the images (keeping the same dimensions for all, except the Logo2.gif) with the ones you’ve created with the same filename. You can do this for one of the least used color schemes that is there and put in your own corporate colors instead. You can even make this modified theme as the default for all users by doing the following. Open up the Registry Editor (regedit) and browse to HKLM>System>CurrentControl Set>Services>MSExchangeWeb> OWA. Create a new REG_DWORD called DefaultTheme with the value of the theme you wish.

The other way is to create a new folder that contains these elements customized to your heart’s content. For instance, you might want to create corporate themes called Company Red and Company Gold-each having the company branding by means of logos, backgrounds and corporate colors. If you wish to give users the ability of selecting a theme to use, you need to follow a few additional steps.

First, create the folders under the themes folder as mentioned above. You can name the folders as you wish (not restricted to using numbers as the default themes). For instance, you can call the new theme folder, Company Gold. Next, put the nine .gif and one .css file (as mentioned in the table) into this theme folder. Make sure the file names remain the same as mentioned in the table. For instance, if you put your company logo into this folder, call the file ‘Logo2.gif’ and so on. 

Filename Description
Logo2.gif The
top left-hand logo that is displayed
Nb-bkgd.gif The
NavBar background
Nb-hide-ql.gif The
hide quick links button
Nb-ql-tgl.gif NavBar
quick links toggle
Nb-sel-bkgd.gif The
selected background in the NavBar
Nb-show-ql.gif The
show quick links button
Nin-bg.gif The
background for the MSN Messenger-style new mail pop up notification
window
Resize-dot.gif The
color for resizing the window
Tool-bkgd.gif The
toolbar background
OWAColors.css The
CSS file for describing a ton of other CSS classes and attributes

Now, customize the CSS file, and make it available to all the users you want. For this, open regedit and browse to HKLM>System>CurrentControlSet>Services>MS Exchange WEB\OWA. Create a new sub-key called Themes under the OWA key. In this key, you can add new themes by following a specific naming format. First, add a new string value to the Themes sub-key. Change the name of the string to the same name as your custom theme folder (in this case, Corporate Gold).

For the value of the key, you must enter the following values separated by semicolons. 

id=<unique id>: This should be a unique id that identifies your theme. Ideally, you should start from a high number, say 100 and then increase it as you go along
for each new theme.

title=<theme title>: This is the name of the theme as it will appear in the drop down.

bgcolor=<HTML color spec>: This is the background color of the page border specified in HTML notation. 

path=<theme folder>: This is the path (relative to the parent themes folder) for your new
theme.

For instance, for my company’s theme, if I had it in a folder called Enterprise InfoTech under the themes folder, my string would look as below.

id=100;title=Enterprise InfoTech Theme;bgcolor=#abcdef;path=Enterprise InfoTech

Open up a new instance of IE and go to your OWA page. Go to the Options page and scroll down to the appearance section to check out whether the new theme has come in the drop down. Select and save it to instantly see what the new theme looks like.

Vinod Unny

Enterprise InfoTech

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