2017/11/24

Case management - mention someone in comments and we will notify them

Another post around case management shipped with jBPM 7. This time some additions for case comments that improves communication and collaboration.

jBPM 7.5 brings in case comment notifications.

That means case participants can be notified directly when they are being mentioned in the case comments. What's really worth noting is that this is completely integrated with case roles. In fact when you mention someone you mention by case role, there is no need to know who is actually assigned to the given role.



That enables smooth collaboration and plays nicely with dynamic nature of case instances and case role assignments.

Comment notifications

Comment notification processing is provided as case event listener that is NOT registered by default though it can be easily registered via deployment descriptor (as event listener).



This listener has three properties that are configurable but comes with defaults for easier setup

  • sender (defaults to cases@jbpm.org)
  • template (defaults to mentioned-in-comment)
  • subject (defaults to You have been mentioned in case ({0}) comment)
{0} place holder will be replaced with actual case id that comment belongs to.

So if you would like to use different values for sender, template and subject, you can provide them as constructor parameters when registering the listener in deployment descriptor:

new org.jbpm.casemgmt.impl.event.CommentNotificationEventListener(
"no-reply@domain.org", 
"custom-template", 
"New comment has been added to case {0}");

Comment notifications are published only when there are any roles mentioned. Roles are then resolved to users or groups assigned to the mentioned roles and then used to publish notification.

First it will attempt to publish notification with the template name it has defined, and if not found then it will send the comment body as raw text.

When sending with templates it will provide following parameters that can be used in the template to be replaced with actual values:
  • _CASE_ID_ - case id of the case the comment belongs to
  • _AUTHOR_ - author of the comment
  • _COMMENT_ - comment text (body)
  • _COMMENT_ID_ - unique id of the comment
  • _CREATED_AT_ - date when the comment was added
Then in the template you can refer to these parameters like this:
You have been mentioned in case comment by ${_AUTHOR_} most likely requires your attention

Notification publishers

Notifications are build as pluggable component and by default jBPM 7.5 comes with email based notification publisher. Notification publishers are discovered on runtime based on ServiceLoader mechanism, so as long as you have jbpm-workitems-email on class path then you have email based notification publisher.

Notification publisher interface (org.kie.internal.utils.NotificationPublisher) comes with three methods:
  • publish notification with raw body
  • publish notification built from a template
  • indication if given publisher is active

Email notification publisher

Email based notification publisher uses two important components to do its work:

  • java mail session that can either be retrieved from JNDI of application server (recommended as it hides the complexity needed to properly setup and secure communication with mail server) or based on property file
  • user info implementation to resolve user ids to email addresses
Since email publisher is discovered on runtime via ServiceLoader then there is no easy way to pass in other objects when initialising it. So it relies on some convention:
  • java mail session
    • register mail session in JNDI via application server configuration and then point the JNDI name via system property so jBPM can pick it up
      • -Dorg.kie.mail.session=java:jboss/mail/jbpmMailSession
    • create email.properties file on the root of the class path with following properties
      • mail.smtp.host
      • mail.smtp.port
      • mail.username
      • mail.password
      • mail.tls
  • user info implementation is automatically retrieved from the environment via org.jbpm.runtime.manager.impl.identity.UserDataServiceProvider

To handle templates there is an extra component (TemplateManager) that allows to deal with html based templates managed with free marker to render actual body of the notifications.

Email templates

Emails can be build with templates to allow better looking notifications than just raw content. TemplateManager that comes with email notification publisher can be used to define custom templates and then use them for your notifications and also email (that are send via EmailWorkItemHandler).

To make use of email templates you need to set the location where those templates are stored via system properties:
  • org.jbpm.email.templates.dir - this property should point to an absolute file system path and must resolve to a directory.
  • org.jbpm.email.templates.watcher.enabled - optionally you can enable watcher thread that will load updated, added or removed templates without the need to restart the server
  • org.jbpm.email.templates.watcher.interval - when using watcher you can also control the poll interval for it, it defaults to 5 and can be changed with this property that represents number of seconds
Emails are processed by free marker so make sure you define templates according to rules for free marker. Each time comment notification is issued it will attempt to use template named mentioned-in-comment and then if failed will send the comment as raw notification.

Implementing your custom notification publisher

Since notification publishers are pluggable you might want to implement your own, e.g. SMS notification. To do that follow these simple steps and off you go:
  • implement org.kie.internal.utils.NotificationPublisher your custom class with the mechanism chosen to send notification
  • create file name org.kie.internal.utils.NotificationPublisher under META-INF/services and paste the fully qualified class name of your implementation
  • usually it's a good practice to implement isActive method with system property to allow to disable given publisher on runtime without a need to remove it from class path 
  • package everything in a jar file and place it on class path e.g. kie-server.war/WEB-INF/lib
And that's all, your notification publisher is now active and will be used whenever someone is mentioned in the comments.

See it in action

Below is a screencast showing it in action using Case management showcase app.


As usual stay tuned and comments are more than welcome.

2 comments:

  1. In NotificationTaskEventListener class, it is mentioned to use default.html if none of the email templates are defined for sending emails. I cant find default.html template anywhere. Could you please provide me the path where I can find default.html.

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    Replies
    1. it's included in the notification-impl jar, see the source of it https://github.com/mswiderski/jbpm-notifications/blob/master/jbpm-notifications-impl/src/main/resources/default-email.ftl

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