The other day, a reader emailed me asked about plugins. I’ll call him J. J asked about add-ons for extending the Lync 2013 client.

So I went looking. And it turns out there’s quite a few. Now, I have profiled a couple of third-party plugins here in the past:
Can You Change Lync’s Incoming Call Popup?
Is There a Way to Use Persistent Chat as a Web App – Without a Lync Account?
2 Ways to Configure Lync Call Forwarding

But people are always developing more! Here’s some new plugins I came across:

  1. Integrate Lync into your intranet sites using the NameCtrl plug-in – Tom Hollander’s Blog. Integrates Lync connectivity into intranet sites.
  2. The SIPE Project. Lets users of Pidgin, Miranda and Adium connect with Lync users.
  3. The Lync 2013 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Plug-In. Use Lync 2013 in a Virtual Desktop environment.
  4. CodePlex – Lync Server Plugins. A list of Lync plugins, everything from “SpotifyLync” (adding Spotify features into Lync) to “LyncTalker” (speaks incoming IMs). Might have to try a couple of these myself.

J asked about one area in particular though – Conversation History. He cited the old MessengerDiscovery plugin for Windows Messenger, and SkypeDiscovery for Skype.

Now, I wasn’t too familiar with either of these. So here’s a list of the features those plugins offered:

SkypeDiscovery: Change the color of Skype, Encrypted conversations, Event log, Chat log viewer, Webcam recorder, Ad removal, Window transparency, run Skype multiple times, etc.
MessengerDiscovery: Open more than one copy of Messenger, Webcam capture, Contact management, Ad removal, Listen to messages out loud, Receive alerts, Message tracking, etc.

The bolded features are the ones I think J was interested in for Lync 2013. Do plugins exist for building such enhancements into Lync 2013? Let’s find out.

Event Log/Chat Logs/Message Tracking

Plugin not necessary. Lync 2013 records its text conversations. Archiving Server will store chat logs, and Monitoring Server will give you reports on them.

There was a Microsoft add-on for Lync Server 2010 which accomplished many of the above-listed functions though – the Lync Adoption and Training Kit. I wrote about it a while back.

However, it appears the kit is not yet available for Lync Server 2013. To be fair, some of its functions (i.e. Tabbed Conversations) were blended into the Lync 2013 client. So we may never see a separate kit.

Webcam Capture

Plugin not necessary. Lync 2013 will record video of conversations and meetings if you tell it to.
Client-side Recording: Lync 2013 – TechNet Blogs.
Record and Play Back a Lync Meeting – Office Support.

Listen to messages out loud

Not native to Lync, but Microsoft has a solution: the Speech Platform. This will read out text for you (albeit somewhat mechanically, depending on the voice you choose!).

Where does that leave us? Most of the MessengerDiscovery/SkypeDiscovery functions are either deprecated or incorporated into Lync 2013 already. Are there even any plugins dealing specifically with Conversation History?

Not that I can find. In a sense, Conversation History itself is a plugin – it’s an add-on to Outlook which displays Lync IM conversations.

I’m not sure how you’d extend that kind of functionality. (Which is one reason why I’m not a developer.) Examining information ABOUT your conversations, however, is already part of Monitoring Server. Its reports will tell you whatever you want to know.

Either way, there’s quite a few plugins for Lync 2013. And more are coming, I’m sure! J, I hope this helps you (and all our other readers) out!

Do you use a plugin in your Lync Server infrastructure? Which one? Leave a comment with the plugin’s name; I’d love to hear what you’re using.

Add-Ons for Lync 2013: Exploring Plugins and What They Do

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