Author Archives: Matt D

Upcoming TraCS Email Enhancements

One of the many enhancements that users will be able to take advantage of in the upcoming major release of TraCS (10.05.00) includes an overhaul of the email functionality and the addition of the email search notification (“watch dog”) system.

The new email enhancements focus on making the setup easier, more centralized, and easier to maintain.  Previously, the email server settings had to be defined separately for each email dependant operation, whether it was batch transmission email notifications or communication instructions designed to send reports via email, even when everything used the same underlying settings. For users that depend on email heavily this dispersed configuration had the potential of becoming burdensome for obvious reasons.

The new design allows you to specify multiple groups of email settings within the Database Connections editor and tag each group with a unique name.  These email settings will contain all SMTP related settings along with the email sender information and everything else that can be shared.  The screenshot below shows how the email server settings are defined in the Database Connections editor.

Along with adding the new centralized method of defining email server settings, the main email settings interface was updated as well.  Now when configuring an email you will simply need to select your desired email settings group from a combo box and add the other common email related information as seen in the form shown below.

Clicking on the buttons associated with each recipient section will bring up an editor containing a list of all available TraCS Users and User Groups to make selection quick and easy.  The recipient email addresses are dynamically pulled from the TraCS Users database at the time an email is sent when using User IDs and User Groups.

This feature makes User Groups particularly useful here by allowing email distribution lists to update automatically when adding or removing users from groups.  It will also be possible to freely enter recipient email addresses here that are not associated with TraCS users.  All areas within TraCS that use email will now share this same new format.

In the past it may have been difficult to determine if an email was sent successfully without searching through log files or verifying with the email recipients themselves that a message was received.  The new design solves this problem and will also give you the ability to resend emails if necessary.  Instead of being sent immediately, all emails originating from TraCS will now be entered into a new database table and will be picked up and sent by a Windows service running on a configurable interval.

A new Email Viewer was added to the Configuration Manager to view previously sent and pending emails.  Users with appropriate access will be able to reset email messages in this viewer for the email service to pick up again.

The items mentioned so far weren’t the only email related enhancements made to TraCS in the upcoming major release.  Two new email related features were also added that will take advantage of the new setup and processing changes.

It will now be possible to send emails from rules using the new email server setting tags.  Rules will now allow you to specify recipient lists, the email subject, and the email body through function parameters.  The rule function will enter the email message into the new database table without any user intervention, and from there the message will be picked up by the email service and sent.

Perhaps the most exciting email related feature to be added is the ability to define search notification emails.  This new “watch dog” functionality allows users with appropriate access to add search notification criteria to their advanced searches (also new for the major release) within the Forms Manager by clicking on the Notifications button within the Advanced Search screen.

Then, by simply entering the basic information on the form shown below, you will be able to add the search notification to the database where it will be processed by a new Windows notification service that will run the advanced searches against the TraCS Data and Archive databases at the specified intervals.

The Windows service will then send out notification emails when records are found by the advanced search that were either added or updated since the last run.  The notification email body will contain identifying information for each match found as shown in the sample email below.

Look for more information on this functionality once we get closer to the next major release possibly through additional blog entries as well as release notes and detailed descriptions in the TraCS documentation.  Hopefully you will find that the new email functionality is not only useful but also easy to set up and maintain.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


TraCS 10 Now Supports Watermarks

Support for adding report watermarks was recently added to TraCS in version 10.04.09. This new functionality gives you the ability to add static watermarks to your reports at design time as well as dynamically set your watermark text through report rules at run time if necessary.

To add a watermark you can start by simply opening a new or existing report in the Forms Builder where you will see a new property grid ‘Watermark’ category. Use this new set of properties to define the desired settings for your watermark.

Direction – Defines the direction that you want the watermark text to appear on your report. Possible values are Horizonal, Forward Diagonal, Backwards Diagonal, and Vertical.

Font – Can be expanded to display a number of font related settings that will be used to define the font used to draw your watermark.

Foreground Color – Sets the color of the watermark text.

Show Behind – Allows you to define whether the watermark will draw in front of or behind the existing objects on the report.

Text – Sets the text value used for the watermark. Use this property when adding a static watermark such as “Confidential” or “DRAFT”, where the text value does not need to be set at run time.

NOTE: Even if you plan on dynamically setting the watermark text through a rule, it can be helpful to add an initial value for the text property here. This will give you a quick view of the watermark to evaluate the other settings when clicking the Preview button in the Forms Builder before you have your rules created.

Transparency – Sets the watermark text transparency based on a number value ranging from 0 to 255, with 0 showing solid text with the selected Foreground Color value and 255 being completely transparent.

As mentioned earlier, the watermark text can also be set dynamically from within your report rule file at run time.  This can be done by using the SetFormProperty rule function to set the value as shown in the example below.  There is no need to set the WatermarkText value if you already set the Text property within the Forms Builder.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


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