OfficeStatus 5 – Status Updates via Email

OfficeStatus 5 supports the updating of user statuses via email. This feature allows users to send quick status updates to OfficeStatus from any device that supports the ability to send email messages.

To enable and configure this capability, navigate to Administration >> Status >> Email Status Updates.

How it Works

Email Status Updates work through the use of standard email protocols. Users will send status update messages to a dedicated OfficeStatus email account (via SMTP) using their preferred mail client, and OfficeStatus Server picks them up and processes them using the IMAP protocol.

When OfficeStatus Server collects status update emails via IMAP, it attempts to match the “from” address of each message to an OfficeStatus user account. If a match is found and the email subject line can be parsed correctly, the user’s status is changed accordingly. If a matching user is found but the email message subject cannot be parsed, OfficeStatus will send the user an error notification email.

Requirements and Preparations

Preparing to use OfficeStatus Email Status Updates feature involves the following steps:

1. Create a dedicated email account for use by OfficeStatus for the purpose of supporting Email Status Updates. You can create this email account on your corporate mail server, on GMail, etc. Ensure that IMAP support is enabled for the account.

2. Ensure that each OfficeStatus user has an email address assigned to their account profile. These email addresses will be used to match inbound status update email messages, so please double-check them for correctness.

3. Configure the OfficeStatus Email Status Updates feature (details below).

4. Test the feature by sending a correctly formatted email (details below) to the email account you created in step 1.

Configuration

The following Email Status Update configuration fields are available.

  • Enable Status Updates via Email – By default, this feature is disabled, so you’ll first need to enable it here.
  • IMAP Server Address – The fully qualified host name or IP address of your IMAP server (i.e. imap.gmail.com).
  • Use SSL – When enabled, connections to the above IMAP server address will be made securely (using SSL/TLS). Many modern mail servers (including GMail) require the use of secure IMAP connections.
  • Username – Enter the username of the email account to which status update email messages will be sent. In many cases, this username will be the same as the account’s email address. As noted above, this account must be used exclusively by OfficeStatus in support of the Email Status Updates feature.
  • Password – The password associated with the above IMAP account.
  • Move Processed Messages To – When specified, processed status update email messages will be moved into this IMAP folder after being processed (successfully or otherwise). Use of this field is not required, but is strongly recommended.

Once you’ve configured the above fields, use the Test Connection button to ensure proper connectivity to your IMAP account.

Important: When collecting email messages via IMAP, OfficeStatus Server will only process unseen messages in the account’s inbox. However, as an added safeguard we strongly recommend the use of the “Move Processed Messages To” option to limit inbox growth. For example, a common strategy is to move processed messages directly to the Trash (i.e. [IMAP]/Trash) folder.

Composing and Formatting Status Update Emails

In order to be processed correctly by OfficeStatus, status update emails must follow a simple set of formatting rules.

Firstly, the email must be sent to the dedicated OfficeStatus Email Status Updates email account created in Step 1 of the “Requirements and Preparations” section above.

Secondly, the email message’s subject line must include the user’s desired target status, and may also optionally include a due back and status comment information. The email subject format is as follows:

[Status Name] [Due Back Date/Time] [Status Comments]

Of the above, only the Status Name is required – the due back and comment information is optional. Now let’s look at each of these parts more closely.

  • Status Name – This must precisely match either the full name of an existing status, or it’s alias.
  • Due Back Date/Time – This value can either be relative (i.e. “1 day”) or absolute (i.e. “2pm”). Relative times can be specified as X min/minute/minutes/m, X hr/hour/hours/h, or X day/days/d.
  • Status Comments – Any data that can’t be parsed as a status or due back date/time will be used as a status comment.

OfficeStatus uses a very flexible parser to extract due back date/time information. For example, all of the following accomplish the same result:

Ex 1: “Out 30m”
Ex 2: “Out 30 min”
Ex 3: “Out 30minutes”
Ex 4: “O 30m”

Note that in example 4 above, it is that “O” is specified as the alias for the “Out” status. You can specify aliases for statuses via the Status Editor.

Here are another set of examples, all of which indicate that the user will return tomorrow at 9am with a comment of “call my cell”:

Ex 1: “Out 1d 9am call my cell”
Ex 2: “O 1 day 9:00 call my cell”
Ex 3: “Out 8/16/2014 9:00am call my cell”

Note that if even if the user composed a due back date/time that was somehow invalid, the portions of the subject line that could not be interpreted would simply become part of the user’s current status comment.

If the due back/date time refers to a date/time that occurs in the past (ex: a user sends “Out 9am” at 3pm in the afternoon), the due back date will automatically be shifted to the following day.

Important: OfficeStatus will parse only the subject line of inbound status updates. Other message parts (such as the message body) will be ignored.

Posted: August 18, 2014 3:40 pm

OfficeStatus 5 is Released

OfficeStatus 5 is now available, and it contains a wealth of  improvements and new features, including:

  • User and resource status calendar views
  • Automatic client updates
  • Calculated due back times for statuses
  • User account password reset support
  • Support for status updates via email
  • Server-side telephony call monitoring
  • An administrative resource status history editor
  • Arrival times report
  • and MUCH MORE

To learn more about what’s new in OfficeStatus 5, please visit:

http://www.officestatus.com/features/WhatsNew.aspx

Or download the new release now:

http://www.officestatus.com/download/Default.aspx

Posted: August 18, 2014 3:31 pm

Integrating OfficeStatus In/Out Board with MS SharePoint

Today I’m going to show you a simple (yet very effective) means of integrating OfficeStatus electronic in/out board software with Microsoft SharePoint.

Specifically, we’re going to expose the OfficeStatus “public view” (a read-only view that doesn’t require authentication) to SharePoint users. For the purposes of this walk-through we’ll be using SharePoint 2010, but the steps will be similar for other versions of SharePoint.

Enable the OfficeStatus Public View

If you haven’t already, first enable the OfficeStatus public view feature (which is disabled by default). You can do so by logging into the OfficeStatus web interface as an administrator and navigating to Administration | System | Enable or Disable Features. Ensure that the Enable Public View setting is set to “Yes” and save changes if required.

Create a New SharePoint Page

Once you’ve decided where you’d like your read-only in/out board view to reside within SharePoint, create a New Web Part Page at that location. This step is, of course, optional – you might elect to add your OfficeStatus view to an existing SharePoint page (in which case you can skip to the next step).

sharepoint_create_page

Creating a new page in SharePoint

Give the page a name, and choose your preferred layout. In the screenshot above, we’re just using the “Full Page, Vertical” layout to keep things simple.

Add a Web Part

After adding a new page, you’ll be looking at the SharePoint page editor. Click on the Add a Web Part link.

sharepoint_add_web_part

Adding a SharePoint web part

Scroll down to the Media and Content category, and select the Page Viewer web part.

sharepoint_web_part_type

Choosing a web part page type

Configure the Web Part

Now click on the “open the tool pane” link to edit the new web part’s settings.

web_part_settings

Configuring the web part in SharePoint

In the Page Viewer category, leave the default “web page” selected and enter the link to your OfficeStatus public view. The link will be the same one you use to access your OfficeStatus web interface, only with “/public” appended to the URL. For example:

http://my-server/OfficeStatus/public

You can also elect to add one or more URL query parameters in order to control the default appearance and filtering of the OfficeStatus public view. These parameters include:

  • Dept: Enter the specific department you’d like to see in the public view.
  • Location: Specify the location you’d like to see in the public view.
  • Status: Specify the status you’d like to see in the public view.
  • ShowUserImages: Turn this off (“true” or “0″) to disable the display of user images.

Here’s an example URL that uses query parameters:

http://my-server/OfficeStatus/public/Default.aspx?Dept=IT&Status=In&ShowUserImages=false

The above link will, by default, show only IT department members with a status of “In”. User images will not be shown.

You may also want to assign the SharePoint web part a specific height (something like 500 pixels, for example).

With configuration complete, click the OK button to commit the changes.

Final Result & Summary

Now that you’ve established a SharePoint page that contains the OfficeStatus public view, you can configure your SharePoint installation to link to that page in whatever manner best suits your needs.

sharepoint_officestatus_pub

OfficeStatus view within SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is an incredibly flexible collaboration tool, and having a read-only view of your OfficeStatus in/out board contained (and easily accessible) within it can be very helpful to users.

Posted: December 19, 2013 3:43 pm

Locking Users Within Departments

With the release of OfficeStatus v4.5 comes a new ability to constrain users to the departments of which they are currently a member.

The switch that toggles this feature on/off is part of the administrative user editor. Engaging it will ensure that the user will only see their own department(s). Users that are members of other departments will be invisible.

This feature extends beyond the in/out status board, affecting user messaging, status watches, etc. It can be beneficial in cases where your organization would prefer a higher degree of departmental isolation, limiting and simplifying interaction between users within the OfficeStatus interfaces.

Also, a related change – by default, users can no longer modify their own departmental membership as they could in releases prior to v4.5. If your organization wishes one or more users to have this ability, it can be allowed at the user level.

Posted: December 4, 2013 4:42 pm

A Closer Look at Status Locks

With the recent release of OfficeStatus v4.5 comes a powerful new in/out board feature – user status locks.

Locking a user’s status prevents it from being changed by external forces such as calendar sync, presence detection features (e.g. “status events”), status scheduling etc. When a user’s status is locked, it can only be unlocked via direct user interaction.

status-lock

So how is this feature useful? Well, it’s actually designed to assist with a number of specific scenarios, but one common one is when an employee unexpectedly calls in sick. That OfficeStatus user may very well have an active status schedule, or may be actively syncing their status with their Outlook/Exchange calendar. In such cases, the user’s status will be automatically updated during sync operations, which is probably not what you want if the user is out sick.

Status locks resolve this problem by allowing qualified users (admin, receptionist, or manager role members) to temporarily prevent status changes for such users. As mentioned above, only a user-initiated status change will effectively unlock it.

OfficeStatus v4.5 also provides a site-wide switch (off by default) that can prevent “normal users” (those that aren’t part of the admin, receptionist, or manager roles) from locking their own statuses.

Finally, status locks can also be observed in user status reports (an additional column has been added for this purpose).

Posted: December 4, 2013 3:19 pm

USE OFFICESTATUS TO

  • Track employee status and location
  • Track and manage company resources
  • Report on employee time & attendance
  • Improve customer service & response times
  • Visualize workforce availability
  • Manage employee emergency contacts
  • Get notifications of employee arrival
  • Generate employee time cards

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