Archive for June, 2011

Outlook plugin to enhance FogBugz email notifications

We’ve recently started using FogBugz to track the work we do. It’s early days, but we’re hoping FogBugz’s Evidence Based Scheduling (EBS) feature will be able assist us to schedule our sprints better. One thing I found particularly annoying when we first started using the product is that there is no easy way to customise the email notifications you receive. I believe it is possible to update the template when using the self hosted option but that requires fiddling with their code. This is the typical notification one receives if someone edits a case that’s assigned to you (or in the case someone notifies you of a change to a case you are potentially not assigned to):

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The notification has all the information you need, however, it’s pretty hard to pick up the message someone may have included. I’m not a fan of plain text emails. When you start receiving a number of these notifications every day, it gets a bit annoying trying to scroll and find the meat of the notification. On Saturday I spent a few hours developing a plugin for Outlook 2010 that could assist with the issue. While this was not my only option (I could have developed a FogBugz plugin), I was intrigued to see if it was indeed possible to update the format of a message in Outlook. As it turns out it’s pretty easy.

This is the result:

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I’m no designer (and Outlook’s HTML support is crap) but I’m relatively happy with what I was able to achieve in a short time frame. The plugin will update the email’s format as you open the email so basically, you never have to deal with the plain text version outlined in the first screenshot. Obviously, the downside to this approach is that notifications received on your phone won’t render in the format above (unless you are using Exchange or similar and have opened the email at least once in Outlook).

Other features I was able to add relatively easily included setting the priority flag on the email depending on the priority of the case. If the case is really urgent (priority 1 or 2), the priority flag is set appropriately.

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If for some reason the parsing fails, the default email format is kept.

I’ve included the source code as an attachment of this post. Feel free to customise it for your needs. It should be relatively easy to update the template as it is bound to a model which is instantiated as a result of parsing the plain text email.

Hope this is useful.

Rohland