the Journey to MVP Nomination Alerts

This MVP Nomination cycle we did a NEW thing! we sent everyone who requested alert notification on the MVP program in India an SMS (apart from the email).. actually, we have only sent invitations for MVP nominations to them this time (not open to public)!
This is the backstage story that enabled us to do that!

Well, the moment you press "Submit" button on the alerts page we get an email with the information neatly formatted. We accumulate the emails till we have something significant to do with the same e.g. send the MVP Nomination alert on SMS. . at this stage we needed to extract numerous mails in hundreds and parse them to get the mobile phone nos.
For this I wrote an Outlook Plugin using .NET 2.0 and VSTO 2.0. The way the plugin works is that it steps through the folder structure (that is mandated) and gets to the folder where the alerts information is stored. Then it looks up the body of the mail and parses the same using regular expression classes. The information is then stored in an offline dataset. Then it moves to the next mail till it has browsed all of them. Finally, the dataset is persisted in an XML file.

Excel 2003 then imports the XML and produces the excel worksheet with appropriate columns. The Excel Sheet is used at 2 places then:
1. To send email to everyone using the familiar Mail Merge
2. To generate the SMS template file

To generate the SMS, we attach a XSD or map (in excel lingo) to the excel worksheet and map nodes to the columns. Then when you export from the excel file it generates an appropriate SMS Template. We open the template in notepad, add the message to be sent (here it is MVP Nomination Form Alert) and transfer the same to the windows CE based mobile device (read XDA II).

On the XDA, we have a SMS Notifier tool (again developed by me) that accepts the template file and sends out the SMS to all the phone nos in the list.

And on your mobile device, you get the useful SMS alert!!

Any suggestions/ improvements are welcome....


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