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Old topic revisited. Customizing Workflow Email Templates

avillanueva
18-Opal

Old topic revisited. Customizing Workflow Email Templates

I've read the help and old posts from 2013 on this topic. I can see that this uses the old template processors and the developer is 8 years retired to Shangri-La. So who here has mucked with this? Users are asking for some basics for both workflow task emails and notification emails:

  • Put PBO number in email subject
  • Remove unneeded attributes from email body (who cares who created Product area)
  • Pass more attribute detail in body of email like workflow attributes. 

Windchill help has this confusing verbiage about "Subject" templates. What the heck is that? Does this pick a template based on the task name? Who wrote this?

Lastly, is there a complete listing of all possible methods that can be called? It might be worth it to extend it and add more custom methods for more functionality. Windchill 11.1 BTW.

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions

avillanueva_0-1636472431566.jpeg

"You fargin' ....!" I will skip the swearing but if you get the reference, you know where I am at. Well, this has been a frustrating adventure but I would I would summarize what I found so that you do not need to go dumpster diving again. TL/DR - If PTC does not want to enhance workflow task emails, update your docs to indicate the limits of configuration possible so that customers do not bang their heads against the wall.

Let's start with the basics. Below is an OOTB user task email message. I am not going to discuss notification emails which are more configurable, just ones delivered from user assignment tasks.

avillanueva_1-1636472946417.png

Here is a list of help docs, articles and other posting I found on topic. 

https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS184118?language=en&posno=3&q=custom%20email%20templates%20w...

Indicates ability to include variables in instructions. PBO would appear as a hyper link.

This would be a low code approach.

https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS151717

This works to change the subject or task name at start of assignment. This could make sorting tasks in tables difficult relying on prefixing.

https://community.ptc.com/t5/Windchill/Workflow-Task-Notifcation-Questions/m-p/581897#M58417%3F&art_...

Motherload of information: Kudos to @TomU !!!!

https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS94124?language=en&posno=1&q=beginSubject&source=search

This indicates that the supported method is possible in templates without coding. Changing the subject!!

Here is what I learned from turning on logging and Eclipse:

  • The createNotification methods that build the email are locked up in WfAssignment for user task emails. This is a core class so next to impossible to extend and replace. In addition, they have hardcoded the General html template and the template processor (WfTaskNotificationProcessor) so we are locked into what they can provide. @TomU has documented what's available.
  • The WfTaskNotificationProcessor wraps around WfTaskProcessor internally but does not extend so its methods are not inherited or exposed. Bummer. Since we only have what the template processor provides, I found addText, process and activity variables, and the PBO name useful. Overall, this is the biggest bunch of spaghetti coding I've seen. With all the enhancement requests on this topic, why this was not fixed is beyond me? All they had to do was add a few more useful methods. Disappointing.
  • The body of the email from "You've been assigned... to Product Description" is all from one method call: activityAttributes(). This means you cannot change its structure or remove information. Again, the number of hops this code takes is astounding. 
  • @dmcalister-2  and @gobada so point to a method of changing via transition code, the task name which will influence the email subject (CS151717). This does work but also can make sorting, grouping and filtering of tasks a mess in Windchill since they would all be changing. A better solution was presented in CS94124. Again, we are limited to methods available to us in WfTaskNotificationProcessor. Not even the PBO number is available.
  • Email subject: This block added above <head> in the General template will change the email subject BUT this template is used for ALL workflow user task emails. It is fault tolerate so if value does not exist, nothing is displayed but JHC guys, this is like 110M hurdles here. If want anything useful, you'll need to create a process variable in ALL your workflows that contains the text you want to show in email. This means that CR, CN, Problem Reports, Promotion Notices, Change task, all need to have the same variable. You can populate it with whatever you want. 
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- beginSubject --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- getActivityName --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- addText text=" - " --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- getProcessVariable varName="pboNumber" --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- addText text=" - " --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- getPrimaryBusinessObjectName --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- endSubject --> </SCRIPT>
    <head> 

avillanueva_3-1636475916656.png

 

  • The only thing that is left is the body and the ONLY place I found that is place to stick stuff is the instructions. See CS184118. This can be task specific so you have to pass all your variables to the task and update instructions to call them out.  It does work and opens up possibilities to gather related data into the email. Just a PITA to get this far. 

avillanueva_2-1636475192192.png

Still here? Thanks for reading. I do know of some other tricks here but I would not recommend. One is turning off send notification flag in task and generating your own email (which you would have control over the template) but that is overkill here. PTC really needs to ditch template processors OR provide users with the flexibility to alter as it was designed to do. Simply make a look up to a properties file where we can change the HTML template and processor if we like.  Bare minimum would be document what users and tech support have compiled. Best would be to include those enhancements. Remember, this is what the casual user sees as their first introduction to Windchill. <end of rant>

View solution in original post

4 REPLIES 4

The easiest way I know to customize the subject of the email is to rename the assigned activity with some code in the activity's start transition. As an example see https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS151717. That's usually as far as I go customizing the notification. To me the email doesn't matter much. I prefer to just customize the task completion page using the templates through the UI. You can create custom html templates for email in <Windchill_home>\codebase\templates\workNotification and use them in a notify-by-email node in the workflow but that gets to be too much to implement and maintain.

gobada
5-Regular Member
(To:dmcalister-2)

I think changing the WfAssignedActivity name runtime is a crazy hack, and more so to solve an e-mail notification requirement.

E-mail robots do use the templates that can be customized in terms of attributes. Work Notification e-mails (when workitems are assigned) have a single template processing method that generates all the attributes in the e-mail (hard-coded).

For any serious e-mail customization until template processing is thrown out, you may have to write your own notification system based on event listeners and mail APIs (java or IE).

avillanueva_0-1636472431566.jpeg

"You fargin' ....!" I will skip the swearing but if you get the reference, you know where I am at. Well, this has been a frustrating adventure but I would I would summarize what I found so that you do not need to go dumpster diving again. TL/DR - If PTC does not want to enhance workflow task emails, update your docs to indicate the limits of configuration possible so that customers do not bang their heads against the wall.

Let's start with the basics. Below is an OOTB user task email message. I am not going to discuss notification emails which are more configurable, just ones delivered from user assignment tasks.

avillanueva_1-1636472946417.png

Here is a list of help docs, articles and other posting I found on topic. 

https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS184118?language=en&posno=3&q=custom%20email%20templates%20w...

Indicates ability to include variables in instructions. PBO would appear as a hyper link.

This would be a low code approach.

https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS151717

This works to change the subject or task name at start of assignment. This could make sorting tasks in tables difficult relying on prefixing.

https://community.ptc.com/t5/Windchill/Workflow-Task-Notifcation-Questions/m-p/581897#M58417%3F&art_...

Motherload of information: Kudos to @TomU !!!!

https://www.ptc.com/en/support/article/CS94124?language=en&posno=1&q=beginSubject&source=search

This indicates that the supported method is possible in templates without coding. Changing the subject!!

Here is what I learned from turning on logging and Eclipse:

  • The createNotification methods that build the email are locked up in WfAssignment for user task emails. This is a core class so next to impossible to extend and replace. In addition, they have hardcoded the General html template and the template processor (WfTaskNotificationProcessor) so we are locked into what they can provide. @TomU has documented what's available.
  • The WfTaskNotificationProcessor wraps around WfTaskProcessor internally but does not extend so its methods are not inherited or exposed. Bummer. Since we only have what the template processor provides, I found addText, process and activity variables, and the PBO name useful. Overall, this is the biggest bunch of spaghetti coding I've seen. With all the enhancement requests on this topic, why this was not fixed is beyond me? All they had to do was add a few more useful methods. Disappointing.
  • The body of the email from "You've been assigned... to Product Description" is all from one method call: activityAttributes(). This means you cannot change its structure or remove information. Again, the number of hops this code takes is astounding. 
  • @dmcalister-2  and @gobada so point to a method of changing via transition code, the task name which will influence the email subject (CS151717). This does work but also can make sorting, grouping and filtering of tasks a mess in Windchill since they would all be changing. A better solution was presented in CS94124. Again, we are limited to methods available to us in WfTaskNotificationProcessor. Not even the PBO number is available.
  • Email subject: This block added above <head> in the General template will change the email subject BUT this template is used for ALL workflow user task emails. It is fault tolerate so if value does not exist, nothing is displayed but JHC guys, this is like 110M hurdles here. If want anything useful, you'll need to create a process variable in ALL your workflows that contains the text you want to show in email. This means that CR, CN, Problem Reports, Promotion Notices, Change task, all need to have the same variable. You can populate it with whatever you want. 
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- beginSubject --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- getActivityName --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- addText text=" - " --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- getProcessVariable varName="pboNumber" --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- addText text=" - " --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- getPrimaryBusinessObjectName --> </SCRIPT>
    <SCRIPT LANGUAGE=Windchill> <!-- endSubject --> </SCRIPT>
    <head> 

avillanueva_3-1636475916656.png

 

  • The only thing that is left is the body and the ONLY place I found that is place to stick stuff is the instructions. See CS184118. This can be task specific so you have to pass all your variables to the task and update instructions to call them out.  It does work and opens up possibilities to gather related data into the email. Just a PITA to get this far. 

avillanueva_2-1636475192192.png

Still here? Thanks for reading. I do know of some other tricks here but I would not recommend. One is turning off send notification flag in task and generating your own email (which you would have control over the template) but that is overkill here. PTC really needs to ditch template processors OR provide users with the flexibility to alter as it was designed to do. Simply make a look up to a properties file where we can change the HTML template and processor if we like.  Bare minimum would be document what users and tech support have compiled. Best would be to include those enhancements. Remember, this is what the casual user sees as their first introduction to Windchill. <end of rant>

Just a follow up tip since I rolled out changes today. I used an expression robot to gather attributes like Change Notice description to throw into emails.  Careful to check for null values.  In fact, ensure that all displayed values have some value that's not null.  The result will be a NullPointerException calling the value in the email template and the result will be an email with no body.  And its too far past Halloween for that.

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