New Tool Promises Some Relief From Mailstorms

There was a time when e-mail was hailed as a productivity-booster. However, those struggling with large volumes of repetitive e-mail may see it as more of a curse. With this in mind, /n Software Inc. (Research Triangle Park, N.C., developed an add-on utility to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook that partially automates e-mail responses. Exchange Templates helps users create and send boilerplate replies -- with a personalized feel -- to frequently received messages. The product stores all premade e-mail messages in special folders.

This product, designed for swamped helpdesk operations, is "for anyone who gets a lot of similar e-mail," says Gent Hito, president of /n Software. Other users who could benefit from such a tool are "resellers following up on leads," he adds. Typically, responding to e-mails has been a manual cut-and-paste process, he adds. With Exchange Templates, users can "select from a range of messages, and generate replies for everybody with the click of a button." Blocks of text can be inserted into outgoing e-mail documents.

An individual is still required to screen incoming messages, "to quickly glance at what the person is asking and make the connection to the appropriate canned reply," Hito says. Exchange Templates also includes a "rules wizard" that will activate a specified template for a particular message, Hito adds. For example, a "message with 'subscribe' in the subject line can be attached to a template that has a reply such as 'thank you for subscribing to our list,'" he illustrates. In the process, e-mail addresses are automatically saved into a mail list, he adds. Users can then rapidly develop and deliver customized mailings, Hito claims.

Users can also add scripts and extensions via TCL or VBScript. Jscript capabilities will be announced in an upcoming release.

While citing Exchange Templates as an important new add-on utility, the SlipStick Systems Exchange Center (, which documents enhancements to the Exchange/Outlook environment, notes one drawback with the Outlook version. "Installing Exchange Templates will cause any add-in that has been disabled in Add-in Manager, but not removed, to be reactivated," the service cautions. However, this bug has been fixed in the latest release (version 1.1), Hito states.