ANN: Python interface to Microsoft Outlook Web Access


A

Adrian Holovaty

Hi all,

Because I telecommute, I'm limited to using my company's webmail
interface, Microsoft Outlook Web Access, rather than having direct POP
or IMAP access to e-mail. This isn't ideal, for several reasons:

* Outlook Web Access has a horrendous user interface in any browser
other than Internet Explorer. (And I'm on Linux, so I can't use
Internet Explorer.) It's hard to search, the icons are unintuitive, it
encourages top-posting and doesn't have the basic benefits of a desktop
e-mail app, such as spell-checking and address auto-completion.
* Using webmail forces me to keep a browser window/tab open to
check messages. And Outlook Web Access doesn't auto-refresh, so I have
to remember to click "Inbox" every so often to get the latest messages.
This is a huge disruption.
* It's just simpler and more efficient to have all my e-mail in one
place.

So I figured I'd do a bit of programming to make my life easier. The
result: weboutlook, a Python library that screen-scrapes Outlook Web
Access. It can:

* Log into a Microsoft Outlook Web Access account on a given server
with a given username and password.
* Retrieve all e-mail IDs from the first page of your Inbox.
* Retrieve all e-mail IDs from the first page of any folder in your
webmail (such as "Sent Items").
* Retrieve the full, raw source of the e-mail with a given ID.
* Delete an e-mail with a given ID (technically, move it to the
"Deleted Items" folder).

Also, I've included a Python implementation of a POP server that
provides a POP interface to the scraper. This means I can point my
desktop e-mail client at the script, my e-mail client will think it's a
normal POP server, and my e-mails will download nicely into my desktop
app, with the screen-scraper running silently behind the scenes.

I put this together in my free time, and it's been working nicely for a
week, so I'm open-sourcing it for other poor souls who've been
sentenced to use Outlook Web Access. I presented this at yesterday's
Chicago Python Users Group meeting and was surprised to see that, even
in a group of only 30 people, 5 or 6 people used Outlook Web Access
through their company. I hope somebody finds this useful.

http://www.holovaty.com/code/weboutlook/

Please send comments and improvements to (e-mail address removed).

Adrian
 
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