Ask an Expert – Email

Link to original article – BMC Communities Article: Ask an Expert – Email


Good Afternoon Footprint Service Core fans!

We just completed the second installment of our Ask an Expert series today (March 14th, 2014) at 12:00pm EST. The topic was email and we were able to get many questions answered. Our very own veteran developer,About the Expert – Dan Santos was the expert for this live Q&A session.

Please take a look at The Pulse – Footprints Service Core – Email Troubleshooting to get some FAQ answered.

Here is a link the the recorded event:

https://bmc.webex.com/bmc/lsr.php?RCID=14c3104e83d843babc9952d388e6f5dc


Here are the questions addressed in the event:

Question: What are the best ways to create an HTML template?

In order to have the most success with the templates being legible on the recipient’s end, it’s suggested to use simplified HTML to minimize the potential for the recipient’s email client to misinterpret the HTML message.

There are many ways to create templates for the outbound email functionality within FootPrints Service Core. By using commercial editors like Adobe’s Dreamweaver or Coffeecup HTML Editor, or a free editor like KompoZer, you can design an HTML template rather quickly.

Those who are more comfortable diving right in to HTML coding, I suggest a capable editor like Notepad++, Netbeans, or for you UNIX die hards, vi/vim or emacs.

Once you have completed creating the layout of your HTML template using filler text, like the “Lorem ipsum” type text, you will need to replace the text with the appropriate field value variables/data keywords.

Variables/keywords can be found by going into the Administration | Workspace | Mail Preferences |Configure Email Notification Templates. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the pencil icon next to the “Custom formatting for HTML message” checkbox. In the popup window, there will be a “Click Here” link for the data keywords.   

At times, if I am curious of what the data will look like for each of the keywords, I will do a view source of the keywords popup window, save the source contents, and then upload the saved source as my template. Then I cause an email to be sent.

Once the keywords have been entered into your template, you’ll upload the template to FootPrints in the same place where the link to the keywords is found.    

Question: How to make use of the HTML forms? (e.g., to be used on a web site)

FootPrints allows for a user to request a pre-built form which comprises a vast majority of the functionality available on a Create Ticket page. This for is requested via email by sending a message to a email box designated for a specific workspace.

Depending on the source of the email (an address known to belong to an agent or not) a form will be sent back matching the capabilities allowed for a create page. For example, when a customer sends in the request email, the form they receive will not show fields they are not allowed to see, like ones available only to agents.

The proper way to request the form is to put the string “HTML Form” into the subject line of the email. If an agent wishes to retrieve the customer version of a form, they can use the string “HTML Form customer”.    

Once the form is received by the requestor, it can be published to any web server like any other web page to be accessed by the end user

Be sure to only publish a customer version of the form for public consumption, as there may be fields and options available in the agent form which may not be appropriate for a customer to manipulate.

Question: Can we use ISSUE=, PROJ= in the body of an email?

The FootPrints email processor is designed to only look for these specific keywords within the subject line of an email message.

However, the message body *can* include a “Project=y” string on its own line

The ISSUE=x can only be specified in the message subject line, and there is no “message body equivalent” like the Project designation has.

Are there cases where Message-ID header won’t work? e.g., mail client doesn’t include it (as In-Reply-To header) in reply;

Here is the order of precedence for determining which workspace an email will be destined for:

    1. Project=X  line in message body 
    2. PROJ=X word in subject          
    3. project number in In-Reply-To header
    4. command line argument of “project=x”

Question: ISSUE=x PROJ=y – Is it needed at all or is the Message-ID sufficient?

Let’s address this in a reverse order, as the follow up question to this one refers to Message-ID mail headers.

The Message-ID header is only used within FootPrints when sending out emails. It is not used in the parsing response email received by FootPrints.

When replying to a FootPrints email, the email client usually will use the Message-ID header to generate an In-Reply-To header, which the FootPrints email processor will try to use for determining which workspace and issue to associate this response with.

Usually, the ISSUE and PROJ identifiers in the subject line are not needed if the email client properly creates the In-Reply-To header.

Question: Are there cases where Message-ID header won’t work?

In all cases, a simple Message-ID header will not be sufficient for FootPrints to process an inbound email meant to edit an issue. An In-Reply-To header is necessary. If your mail client does not provide an In-Reply-To header, then you must make sure that the email subject contains an ISSUE=x PROJ=y

Question: Do change management emails include ISSUE=x PROJ=y ?

As long as you include it in the email title when configuring your phase notification and reminder emails, YES

The notification and reminder emails will also include a Message-ID header, so as long as the mail client knows how to produce the                 In-Reply-To header from it, the email subject can do without the ISSUE=x PROJ=y content

Question: How flexible is the syntax? can the keywords be changed?

 

Yes, the keywords can be changed by defining them in the MRlocalDefs file.

To change the string defining “ISSUE” add a line to MRlocalDefs like this:

$EMAIL_SUBJECT_KEY_ISSUE   = “DEFECT-ID”;

To change the string defining “PROJ” add a line to MRlocalDefs like this:

$EMAIL_SUBJECT_KEY_PROJ   = “WORKSPACE”;

 

Question: Lets say Customer A receives an Footprints e-mail notification and forward this to customer B and customer B replies to this e-mail without changing the subject can Footprints be configured that the ticket will be updated with the information of that e-mail?

Administration-> Workspace-> Mail Preferences-> Incoming Email-> Edit Issues: Change to Anyone can update any Issue via email.

This will allow customer B to reply regardless if they are currently part of the issue.

Question: We use custom formatting for html templates. Now when using German umlaut characters we always fall back to the html code for them. It seems to be the most reliable way of ensuring that the umlaut in every mailclient is really displayed correctly. Is there a way to design the template (and if yes how) so that we can just use e.g. “ä” and not the html code “ä” so that it is displayed in the major mail clients as such? Please note: I already upload them directly into the FP backend, since when uploading via FP frontend FP converts the files to ANSI, even though I uploaded an UTF-8 template. In this context is there a difference when using UTF-8 with or without BOM? (We are running FP on a Windows Server)

According to HTML guidelines, all non-ASCII characters should be represented by either their entity code, decimal code, or hex code.

The correct way of representing characters like the “a with umlaut” – ä –  using:

  • The entity code: ä
  • The decimal code: ä
  • The hex code: ä

There are tables of these codes available here:

http://www.w3schools.com/charsets/ref_html_utf8.asp

Question: Since we use custom html templates I was never sure what effect the effect of “Send mail as text” and “Send mail as html” is. Do they have any meaning when we use custom html formatting or can we just uncheck them and it’s the same?

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Forgetting the Custom Formatting checkboxes, here is what will happen:

Checking only the Send mail as text box:

FootPrints will send only a text version of the email message to the target recipient using the standard FootPrints email template. This will be ideal for mail clients which cannot display html.

Checking only the Send mail as html box:

FootPrints will send only an html version of the email message to the target recipient using the standard FootPrints email template. This will produce a message which will only be properly viewable in an html compliant mail browser.

Checking both the Send as text and Send as html boxes:

Footprints will send a multi-part mime encoded message with both a text version and an html version of the message using the standard FootPrints email template. If the email client can interpret html, it will usually render the html portion of the message. Otherwise the text portion of the message will be displayed.

Using the Custom Formatting checkboxes:

If using the Custom formatting for text messages, you must have the Send mail as text box checked. Otherwise the custom message format will not be utilized.

FootPrints will send a text version of the email message to the target recipient using your custom defined email template.

If using the Custom formatting for html messages, you must have the Send mail as html box checked. Otherwise the custom message format will not be utilized.

FootPrints will send only an html version of the email message to the target recipient using the custom defined email template.

If using Custom formatting for text *and* html messages, you must have both Send mail as text and as html boxes checked. Otherwise neither custom message format will be utilized.

Footprints will send a multi-part mime encoded message with both a text version and an html version of the message using the custom templates defined.

Question: We have several workspaces with many users. Not all users are members of all workspaces. If a user is not a member any workspace then they can submit issues. If they are granted a userid with access to another workspace they lose the ability to submit issues to the first workspace. How can we allow people to submit requests regardless of their role in other workspaces?

As I understand this, a person is not associated with any user IDs within the FootPrints application, and in this case these people can submit requests to PROJ1 without issue. As soon as a person is granted an ID in some other workspace (PROJ2, for example) they are no longer allowed to submit emails into PROJ1.

I believe that this is due to the way that credentials are handled with regards to rights/permissions in workspaces.

    • When a user ID is created, an email address is associated with the ID, as well as a default workspace (and additional workspaces where they will have access).
    • If the user ID is only added to PROJ2, FootPrints will then restrict all access to other workspaces, even via email, because there would be no explicit access granted to other workspaces.

The only way I can see this working properly is when adding a user to PROJ2, go into System Administration | User Management and edit their user account, adding PROJ1 to the list of “Selected workspaces”. Then set their role in the PROJ1 workspace to be a Customer which has rights to submit.

Question: What are some favorite useful email hacks for the MRlocalDefs file?

$BOUNCE_BLOCKED_INCOMING_MAILS = ‘webmaster@company.com‘;

This will send  webmaster@company.com an email consisting of the message which FootPrints had blocked for whatever reason.

$MRLD_HEADERS_TO_DESCRIPTION = 1;

SYSTEM WIDE OPTION – This will put the email headers from incoming mail messages into the description of the ticket.

$MRLD_HEADERS_TO_DESCRIPTION{PROJ_NUMBER} = 1;

PER WORKSPACE OPTION – This will put the email headers from incoming mail messages into the description of the ticket only in the workspace denoted by PROJ_NUMBER.

$EMAIL_MARKER_LINE = ‘ New reply above this line message’;

$EMAIL_MARKER_LINE_EXTRA = ‘Second line below the first’;

SYSTEM WIDE OPTION – Change the wording of “When replying, type your text above this line.”

$NO_EMAIL_MARKER =1;

SYSTEM WIDE OPTION – Remove  “When replying, type your text above this line.”

Question: What are some strategies for formatting mail according to role when there are multiple agent roles or multiple customer roles?

We don’t have per-role email formatting functionality within the application, which makes it difficult to provide suggestions or strategies. You might be able to accomplish the workflow through escalation templates and notifications.

Question: I have configured FootPrints with custom HTML formatting. I have also created status based templates. For some statusses I don’t want an e-mail to be sent. What happens now is when agents ‘overrule’ the standard , by marking send email to: fields there is an almost empty email sent out. How can i prevent this from happening?

You need to upload a template to the “master template”. Switch the template type back to a single template regardless of status, upload a template to that, then switch it back to the multi-status template. If a status does not have a template defined it will us the one we just uploaded.

To prevent users from sending emails for certain statuses you need to disable that user role from sending notifications entirely then use escalations to send emails.

 

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