Free design of workflows with emails

  1. chevron left iconFree design of workflows with emails
December 10, 2013

Emails are an important instrument for the communication and distribution of information in workflows. With censhare 4.8 emails can now be deployed very flexibly. Thanks to XSLT, censhare can automatically generate custom emails for the workflow and process answers to an account.

Sending individually designed and compiled emails

One of the great strengths of censhare is the wealth of possibilities for automating processes. This applies to all areas in censhare, such as the import of data and files, the generation of print preview PDFs or the placement of ads. Many procedures can be speeded up if users are automatically informed about results and their answers are correspondingly processed. With version 4.8, censhare now offers the possibility of incorporating emails flexibly in workflows. Companies gain additional freedom to shape their information and communications processes securely and yet individually.

censhare can address and query the members of a group and enter them as recipients of an email

The range of possibilities begins with the choice of addressees that should receive an email when a workflow step is reached. Here, it could be a matter of an image, article or layout of an asset being ready or being required. In order to determine the addressees, censhare could, for instance, seek a linked person asset with email. Or it takes the user or the group which is entered as the workflow target for an asset. For a group, censhare first determines its members. The group might perhaps be a pool of layout professionals receiving a new assignment for a layout.

Each layout expert in this group receives a personalized mail. The text of the email contains a link for confirmation of acceptance by the layout person. The link sets the workflow target in censhare to the particular layout expert. In addition, it informs the other layout people of the given group by email that the order has been assigned. To accept the order, the layout expert invokes the link and logs onto his or her account in censhare. This does not require a client to be installed on the system where he or she is currently working. With a message in a browser window censhare either confirms the assignment or reports that the assignment has already been taken on by someone else.

For example the layout assignment could be a PDF form with the monthly polling, survey or inquiry to the magazine's newsletter distribution list. The sender address of the polling or inquiry is a special email account. censhare now checks incoming post at particular intervals to see whether any answers from readers are available. censhare reads these, opens the attached PDF form, evaluates the answer fields, enters the results into censhare and then deletes the mail.

Customer benefits

  • Extension of workflows with email communication
  • Automatic flexible generation and sending of an email on reaching a particular workflow step
  • Setting up of email accounts for a particular purpose, in order to automatically process the emails received there
  • Initiating actions defined in censhare without a censhare client via web link, sent by email
  • Access to an email account in order to send emails as well as to receive, to read and to delete incoming mails
  • Flexible generation of an email with text, HTML version and attachments
  • Flexible definition of the recipient of an email via groups or by way of people linked to assets

Application case

  • Automatic evaluation of answers by PDF form, received as email attachment
  • Correction workflow 1: sending of print preview PDFs of an article and automatic generation of notes on the article. These are automatically generated by censhare from the comments in the PDF in the author's response.
  • Correction workflow 2: release of an article in censhare on the basis of a link in the email with the print preview PDF, no censhare client necessary

Four strengths of automation

The XSLT toolkit (XSL-Transformations) is the basis for automation in censhare. The XSLT commands contained therein make censhare functions available over an API (Application Programming Interface) in special programs, known as XSL style sheets. These are based on XML. An additional benefit is the fact that the automation is thereby based on the same functions that censhare uses. The functions have therefore already proven themselves through use in censhare itself. With version 4.8, four XSLT commands are added in order to send emails, read the content of an email folder, as well as to open and also to delete emails contained in such folders.

The second advantage for automation is that XSLT is able to access all the data in censhare. This might be the properties of an asset or associated files. Moreover, there are also various possibilities for finding the desired asset. One of these is when the asset searched for is connected with the current asset by links, as with placed images with an issue plan. Another is the definition of a search with XSLT. censhare can also read out key data in the admin client. This may be user groups and their members.

A third bonus point is the fact that censhare employs XML as general format for representation. Among others, all assets or key data can be represented in XML. If an XML description of an asset is available, censhare can generate an asset from it. To manipulate values in an asset, censhare can transform it into XML, convert the values and store the XML back again as an asset.

Last but not least, very many automation tasks in censhare allow a transformation via XSLT to be defined, to modify data. If the transformation is stored as an asset, users can also invoke it externally by way of a link. Behind the link a REST URL is hidden (Representational-State-Transfer). An example of this is order acceptance over the web. Such links are a possibility of involving clients, partners or service providers in workflows, without them having to install a censhare client. For security reasons an account in censhare is necessary.

The question as to which processes in a company can be automated and how, will be determined in the framework of an introductory project. In this context, help can be readily obtained from partners or censhare AG itself.

Reading and sending emails

With regard to email server access, censhare supports the POP3, SMTP and IMAP protocols, also encrypted. censhare generates the email with the help of Multipart as simple text, as HTML or both together. If a file is specified in the email definition, censhare sends it as an attachment for the selected account. The XSLT command can enter email addresses as direct recipient, as copy or as blind copy recipient.

In order to read an email folder, the name of the email account and the folder are required. A list is returned including, among other things, the ID, the sender address and the recipient address for each email. Depending on the command, the input of the email account, the email folder and the ID allows reading or deletion of emails in a folder.

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