Notes on Web Mail Address Book Functionality

There was significant variability in the implementation of the address books I reviewed (Outlook, Outlook Web Access, Yahoo! Mail Beta, GroupWise WebAccess). The most common functions seemed to be:

  1. Address Book Dialog - a means of selecting an entry from the address book to populate To, Cc, and/or Bcc fields while composing a message. These dialogs often included search fields, a grid view or listbox of results, and To, Cc, and Bcc buttons to select the fields in to which to place a selected address.
  2. "Contacts" View - the newer apps included a separate "contacts" view, available when not composing a message, which provided a grid view or listbox showing all entries in the address book. From this screen, entries could be selected for editing.
  3. Edit Contact Dialog - address book entries were typically added and edited using a window/dialog that consisted of a series of Web 1.0 textboxes, textareas, and dropdown (select) lists.

Of these features, the Address Book and Edi Contact dialogs are clearly essential; the "Contacts" view is not necessary if the add/edit function can be initiated from the Address Book (although the newer apps seem to think this feature is important).

In all cases, the windows/views/dialogs are (or could be) composed of standard form controls in conjunction with a grid view; no new "widgets" appear to be necessary.

Application Review Notes:
Microsoft Outlook 2003
  1. Address Book Dialog ("Select Names")

    Opened by clicking To, Cc, or Bcc buttons in compose message window.

    Includes:

    When a name is selected from the grid either by arrowing through the grid or typing in the Search field, clicking To, Cc, or Bcc adds the email address to the corresponding textbox. Clicking the OK button inserts the selected addresses into the To, Cc, and Bcc fields in the compose message window.

  2. "Contacts" View

    Offers a variety of views, including a grid view, grid views with category groupings, and "address cards" (a complex, multi-column list). Selecting a contact and pressing enter (or double clicking) opens the edit contact dialog.

  3. Edit Contact Dialog

    Several tab pages of textboxes for entering contact information elements.

Microsoft Outlook Web Access
  1. Address Book Dialog ("Find Names")

    Opened by clicking To..., Cc..., or Bcc... buttons in compose message window.

    Includes:

    Enter search terms and click Find. Possible matches are displayed in grid view. Arrow through rows in grid to select. Click To, Cc, Bcc buttons to add to corresponding field in compose message window.

  2. "Contacts" View

    Provides a more extensive grid view listing of contacts. Selecting a contact and pressing enter (or double clicking) opens the edit contact dialog.

  3. Edit Contact Dialog

    Two tab pages with a collection of textboxes, textareas, and dropdown (select) lists.

Yahoo! Mail Beta
  1. Address Book Dialog ("Add Recipients")

    Opened by clicking To, Cc, or Bcc buttons in compose message window.

    Includes:

    Pick a name from the list and click OK.

  2. "Contacts" View

    Sortable listbox showing user name with right-hand pane that shows details or textboxes for selected name.

  3. Edit Contact Dialog

    Right-hand pane in Contacts view. Scrolling list of textboxes, textareas, and dropdown (select) lists.

Novell GroupWise WebAccess

  1. Address Book Dialog

    Opened by clicking Address Book button in compose message window.

    Includes:

    Search, select name (check checkbox) from the grid view, click To, CC, or BC button. In the grid view, each name is a link. Clicking the link opens the edit contact dialog.

  2. "Contacts" View

    No separate "Contacts" feature

  3. Edit Contact Dialog ("View Address Book Entry")

    A collection of textboxes.