What is that ca_defaults.xml in Exchange 2003 SP1 ADC anyway?


A common complaint with the version of ADC Tools released with Exchange 2003 was:
 
When you use the wizard to create your connection agreements you don't have a chance to look at them or change them before they replicate.  What if I want to look at them before they replicate to make sure all is well?
 
Well, with SP1 you can now set many default ADC options up front by modifying a file called ca_defaults.xml.  By default, Ca_defaults.xml is in the \program files\msadc folder (once SP1 ADC is installed).  Before creating new connection agreements with the ADC Tools wizard you can modify this file to set the defaults you would like new connection agreements to possess.
 
For example, if you would like to have all new connection agreements be set to "never replicate" so that you can review them before they initially run (and solve the problem I listed above) you would change the following line in the ca_defaults.xml file
            from:
            <attribute name="activationStyle" value="2">   
to:
            <attribute name="activationStyle" value="0">
On the activationStyle attribute, 2=ALWAYS, 0=NEVER, and 1=selected times
 
Great news! What else can you do with ca_defaults.xml?  Well for another example, you can also control the default settings on the "Deletion" tab:


You can control the option "When replicating deletions from the Exchange Directory" by setting msExchServer1DeletionOption
                        A value of 0 = deletions are processed as normal
                        A value of 1 = deletions are written to the LDF file
You can control the option "When replicating deletions from the Windows Active Directory" by setting msExchServer2DeletionOption
                        A value of 0 = deletions are processed as normal
                        A value of 1 = deletions are written to the CSV file
 
In fact, you can set many of the attribute defaults by modifying this file.  (Although most of them you probably wouldn’t really have a need to control)  The other attributes you can control are listed in:
http://support.microsoft.com/?id=867627 along with more information on setting them.  That article doesn’t discuss what each attribute actually does so if you need a detailed explanation of the attributes, take a look at Appendix C of the "Understanding and Deploying Exchange 2000 Active Directory Connector White Paper" located at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=C763B584-C511-4687-B27F-A13A8F82D4C8&displaylang=en
 
A few other things to note:
 
If you reinstall the ADC (which would include service packing the ADC since that is really a reinstall) you will overwrite the ca_defaults.xml file - so make sure you back this up if you modify it so you can easily drop it back in.
 
Let’s say you set the default to "never replicate" in our original example and then the wizard comes back and tells you that you need to create 100 connection agreements for your environment.  You run through, verify you agree with the settings and all is good and you are ready to use the connection agreements - except now you need to modify all 100 of these connection agreements to start replicating (remember you set it to NEVER).  What now?  Well there is a nice little script in that very same directory called activate_cas.vbs.  Using this script you can easily set the value on all existing connection agreements to 2 (ALWAYS) by running:


            Activate_cas NOW
 
Happy ADC’ing!


- Kyle Lewallen

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