Exchange Tasks Builder by U-BTech - Build Your Own Tasks

Building your own custom tasks for U-BTech's Tasks engine using the free Exchange Tasks Builder

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Some Exchange Tasks Background

Exchange Tasks

Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2013 and 2010 as well as its Exchange Online offering are great scalable messaging solutions for small, medium and enterprise organizations, but with all their wonderful advantages they lack one thing almost every system and messaging administrator requires: A familiar management tool.

Most administrators managing their messaging environments using a single management interface, The Active Directory Users and Computers MMC Snap-In. Previous Exchange versions extended this snap-in to include some Exchange management functionality. Neither Exchange Server 2010 nor 2013 extend the ADUC snap-in: Exchange 2010 has its own stand-alone management interface, The Exchange Management Console, which in Exchange 2013 no longer included. Exchange Online, as part of the Office 365 platform, can only be managed using its own dedicated Management Portal or by using an On-Premise management server, with one of the above mentioned configurations.

U-BTech's Exchange Tasks Products Suite extends the ADUC snap-in to include all the great management tools and screens we have all gotten used to over the years, with some major improvements like Bulk Exchange commands & operations for multiple objects selected, even whole Active Directory Containers!

The installation for all products in the suite is very simple and requires no modification to the Active Directory schema or configuration. Once the product has been installed, it is accessed in the same fashion as all the previous built-in management tools using the ADUC snap-in.

U-BTech’s Exchange Tasks use Exchange’s built in WinRM (Windows Remote Management) capabilities to remotely and securely manage your Exchange environment without the need to locally install the management tools. This also allows you to manage your Exchange infrastructure regardless of your PC’s CPU architecture.

Building your own custom tasks

Exchange Tasks Builder

Beginning with the latest versions of Exchange Tasks 365 and Exchange Tasks 2013, we now support developing your own custom tasks and scripts and use them with our products. Think about it, you can use our engine to run any task you want, Exchange related or not, with all the benefits of our platform including bulk object selection and the simplicity of a clean and user-friendly interface.

To make life a lot easier for you, we’re now releasing, free of charge, a utility called the Exchange Tasks Builder. This utility will allow you to write and develop custom ubtasks for use with our products. These custom ubtasks can then be run as easily as any task we bundled our products with.

1) Start by running the Exchange Tasks Builder:

Exchange Tasks Builder First Look
Image 1: A first look at the Exchange Tasks Builder.

 

If you wish, Point the Exchange Tasks Builder to a folder containing your set of pre-built tasks.

Exchange Tasks Builder Prepopulated
Image 2: The Exchange Tasks Builder, pre-populated with all the built-in ubtasks.

 

2) If you want to be able to test your custom ubtasks against an actual working environment, make sure to use the ‘Connection Settings’ dialog and create your required Exchange Connection. We recommend testing your tasks using a test environment.

Exchange Tasks Builder Connection
Image 3: Creating an Exchange Connection.

 

3) Single-Clicking on one of your own custom ubtasks or one of the ubtasks we provided with the builder, will show you a brief synopsis of the task as well as letting you know whether the task is signed or not.

Exchange Tasks Builder Details
Image 4: Detailed ubtasks information in the Exchange Tasks Builder.

 

4) To edit an existing ubtask, simply double-click it. To create a new ubtask click the ‘New’ button. Each ubtask contains three important tabs. The ‘General’ tab lets you configure the ubtask’s general details such as its name, category, which object it’s relevant for as well as its icon.

Exchange Tasks Builder General Tab
Image 5: A ubtask’s ‘General’ tab.

 

5) The fields tab lets you configure all the display elements of the ubtask as well as any input the ubtask will require. A field can be of different types and depending on its type, its form-factor and the way the user interacts with it will change. Each field can have its own icon and depending on whether a field is unique or not, one input can apply to many users at once or only one at a time.

Exchange Tasks Builder Fields Tab
Image 6: A ubtask’s ‘Fields’ tab.

 

6) Finally, the most important of them all, the ‘Scripts’ tab. This tab lets you configure all the required scripts that need to be run in order for the ubtask to behave accordingly. All script blocks are written in standard PowerShell. These script blocks are run in the following order:

First: The ‘Is Applicable’ Script – Runs before showing the ubtask interface, if any, and makes sure the script runs only on specific object types or only when certain conditions are met. As its name suggests, it checks whether the ubtask is relevant for the selected object.

Second: The ‘Get Data’ Script – Runs before showing the ubtask interface, if any, and returns the information required to run the task and displays it when showing the ubtask.

Third: The ‘Validation’ Script – A script block that will run and verify that all the ubtask input has been supplied correctly.

Fourth: The ‘Task’ Script – This is the actual task to be run after all the information has been supplied and verified.

Exchange Tasks Builder Scripts Tab
Image 7: A ubtask’s ‘Scripts’ tab.

 

7) To get really familiar with all your options and with everything you can do, we suggest backing up the ubtasks folder provided with the builder and then modifying those ubtasks. It’s really important to emphasize that you are in no way limited to only Exchange related tasks. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be creating, editing and modifying ubtasks in no time.

Securing your custom tasks

Exchange Tasks Builder Security

Developing new ubtasks is fairly simple and they have the potential to be a very powerful tool. Eventually they are xml-based PowerShell script blocks that can be used for a variety of administrative tasks. If you want to make sure that your ubtasks are intact and digitally signed to secure their content, you can do so using the Exchange Tasks Builder. Using any supported Microsoft Authenticode Code-Signing Certificate, all your ubtasks can be signed. A Group Policy setting then lets you configure that only signed ubtasks can be run in your environment. All the provided ubtasks created by U-BTech are pre-signed and secured.

Exchange Tasks Builder Signing
Image 8: Signing custom tasks with Exchange Tasks Builder.

 

To Summarize

U-BTech’s Exchange Tasks Builder takes the success of our Exchange Tasks products and lets you use the same simple platform to run powerful PowerShell logic on any target with ease and simplicity. Make sure to take advantage of it as soon as it’s released.

Elad Hayun

About the Author

Elad Hayun - Co-founder, Corporate Partner and R&D Manager at U-BTech Solutions

Elad is co-founder, partner and R&D manager at U-BTech Solutions. Elad is a senior consultant and integrator, with years of experience in the centralized systems management and Information Worker field. Elad is also a certified Microsoft trainer and a senior instructor at John Bryce Hi-Tech College.

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