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Outlook Actionable Messages

Outlook Actionable Messages allow users who are subscribed to Office 365 to complete simple tasks against external services right within Outlook, so users can save time by avoiding the need to switch between applications.

Office 365 provides two solutions to enhance productivity with Outlook Actionable Messages: actionable messages via email, and actionable messages via Office 365 Connectors.

User Experience

Let's take a look at the end-to-end user experience for both an email-based and a connectors-based actionable message scenario.

Actionable messages via email: expense approval scenario

A Contoso employee submits an expense report to the internal system. That system sends an Actionable Message to the person who is to approve or reject the expense. The card included in the message contains all the information the approver might need to quickly understand who submitted the expense, the total amount, and more. It also includes Approve and Reject actions that can be taken right from Outlook:

An expense report message card rendered in Outlook

The recipient decides to approve the request, and clicks the Approve action:

An expense report message card displaying a spinner, indicating it is processing a user action

Outlook makes a request to the expense report approval system, and the expense report is marked as "approved" in the system. As a result, the card is refreshed to indicate the new status of the expense report:

The refreshed card rendered in Outlook

Actionable messages via Office 365 Connectors: task management scenario

Adele Vance and her team use Trello as their task management system. Adele has configured the Trello connector in her account, and will receive granular notifications as activity occurs in the Trello boards she is interested in.

Shiva, in Adele's team, creates a new Trello card in the "Hiring" board. He needs the latest job postings to be published. Adele receives an actionable message that tells here all about the new card and the task it represents: who created it, in which list, what the due date is, and more.

A Trello connector card with actions

Adele has a few notes she recently took on a piece of paper with important things that should be mentioned in the job postings. She decides to add these as a comment to the Trello card. She clicks the Add a comment action, and is presented with a text input field in which she can type her notes:

The "Add a comment" action UI with a text input

Adele then clicks the Save button, and the notes are immediately saved to the Trello card. A confirmation appears at the bottom of the message:

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Action types

Outlook Actionable Messages support two types of actions: calling an external service via HTTP POST, and opening a URI.

Calling an external service

The HttpPOST action type calls an external service. It supports collecting input from the user and including that in the call.

Actions without input

There are many scenarios where the user is expected to confirm a pre-defined request. For example, marking a task as complete or approving access requests to documents. In these scenarios a simple click of a button can invoke an action.

Actions with input

Actionable messages can be used to support several scenarios with input. Some scenarios require specialized controls to support them. Here's some example of scenarios corresponding to the controls that are available with actionable messages.

  • Date input: The date control enables many scenarios where a date input is desired. For example, it can be used for setting due dates for tasks/projects.
  • Choosing from a list: The list box control enables scenarios that require users to pick a value from a pre-defined list. For example, setting a stage for a lead in a CRM system, setting the status of an issue in an incident tracking system.
  • Text input: The text box control enables scenarios that require the user to enter text, such as commenting on an assigned task.

Opening a URI

The OpenUri action type opens a URI, either in a browser or as a deep link into an app. This is typically used to view the content that was received in the actionable message directly in the service.