Tricky Way to Handle Review Activity Approvals with the Exchange Connector

Tricky Way to Handle Review Activity Approvals with the Exchange Connector

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One of our TAP customers, Alexsander Popov, came up with a clever way to handle review activity approvals in email.  The Exchange Connector requires that an email be sent with the work item ID in square brackets in the subject and some configurable keyword that represents approve or reject in the body.  I’ve recommended using [Approved] and [Rejected] in the body.  Normally you would have to provide instructions to the reviewer on what to enter when they reply to the email.  Alexsander removes some of the chance for user error by using a mailto: handler in the email body.  When he sends emails they look like this:

clip_image002

Each of the links is actually a mailto: link so that when the user clicks on the link it will open a new mail and populate the subject and the body with the required text like this:

clip_image002[5]

He did this by creating a notification template which has an <a> tag around the Approved and Rejected links.  The <a> tag has an href attribute that is set to:

mailto:someemailaddress@somecompany.com?subject=[<insert the work item ID here>]&body=[Approved]

It should look like this in the template:

<a href="mailto:someemailaddress@somecompany.com?subject=[<insert the work item ID here>]&body=[Approved]">Approved</a>

<br/>

<a href="mailto:someemailaddress@somecompany.com?subject=[<insert the work item ID here>]&body=[Rejected]">Rejected</a>

We’ve tested this approach in Outlook, OWA, and Windows Phone 7 and it works great!

Thanks for sharing that creative solution Alexsander!

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  • Unbelievable timing :) Not 30 minutes ago I started exploring possibilities for this very situation. You've just saved me an afternoon's work! Thanks! :)

  • Wow, nice idea! If they put more text below the [Approved] would that also get appended to the request to be viewable??

  • @GGP - yep

  • Would doing this cause issues where the user simply replied to the email and the body contained the [Approved] and/or [Rejected] text via the links?

  • @Yoni

    No, for two reasons:

    1) The Exchange connector will not look at any text below 'From:' (or whatever keyword you configure depending on your language etc.)

    2) The text in the original email is 'Approved' not '[Approved]'

    If the user replied [Approved] then it woudl be processed in the same way as if the user clicked on the link.

  • Hi Travis,

    In the Exchange Connector Documentation it says:

    "If an email is sent with a change request ID in the subject and the most recent message body contains the configurable keyword for approving (example: ‘[Approved]’) or rejecting (example: ‘[Rejected]’) the connector will change the vote status for the sending user in the review activity (assuming the sender is a reviewer)."

    In your example you have inserted Review Activity ID.

    How can we insert the change request ID in the subject line of the Review Notification Template?

    Thanks in advance.

  • @Ozge Ozkaya -

    Sorry the documentation has a bug there.  It should say...

    "If an email is sent with a *REVIEW ACTIVITY* ID in the subject and the most recent message ..."

  • Thank you Travis for the prompt answer. I can successfully complete a manual activity however I cannot with a Review activity.I have defined ##Approved## for approving a review activity. When I replied with this keyword in the body, it doesnt approve the review activity. It doesnt also create a new ticket.

    Where can be the problem?

  • I apologize for the rookie question.. but I have 0 programming background and am really just compiling this entire process from trial and error.

    When I add the <a> tags in.. do I do that in the template design where I want to put them? Example:

    blah blah blah - My 5 statuses.. priority title assigned to etc..

    </p> <a>[Approved]

    </p> <a>[Rejected]? (I have an HTML code which I'm using for this template

    Or how would I go about putting this in there?

  • @Josh - thanks for asking the question.  Sorry for assuming everybody knows HTML. :)

    I've added some more details about how to do this in the blog post above.

  • Travis & Alexsander

    This is awesome... good work guys. We got this up and running right away and the team loves the simplicity of it. Saves them a few clicks and saves them time when approving

    Greg

  • This works great! Is there a way to mark a Manual Activity as complete using the exchange connector the same way it is done here for a Review Activity?

  • @Louis -

    Sure, just change the &body part to say '[Completed]' (or whatever your keyword is).

  • Travis, I have been using email to either complete or fail manual Activities. The failed does not change the status of the Activity, it does append any comments to the notes but does not change the status. Any ideas?

  • @Lou -

    Failure is not something that I have keyword support for right now.