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Saturday, August 16, 2014PrintSubscribe
Sending Emails with SQL Business Rules

Email business rules offer a simple and effective mechanism of creating email notifications for various workflow tasks. For example, a simple notification can be sent out when a new customer account is created. Another example is a notification with attached PDF reports triggered by an update of a product category record.

An email business rule is a static text-based template with placeholders matched to a data controller action command name and execution phase. The template may also include XML-based attachment instructions. A single email notification is generated by application framework when an email business rule is matched to a command activated by application user. Template placeholders are replaced with the field values of the affected data row. If the multiple selection mode is enabled, then a separate notification is generated for each selected data row. Here is an email business rule that produces a notification with two attachments for Categories controller.

An email business rule selected in Project Designer of Code OnTime app generator.

The text of the email business rule script template is shown next. The data value placeholders are highlighted.

Host: smtp.gmail.com
Port: 587
UserName: YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS@gmail.com
Password: PASSWORD
EnableSSL: true

From: "Sales Admin" <your_email_address@gmail.com>
To: RECIPIENT@northwind.com
Subject: Category "{CategoryName}" has changed!

Dear Admin,

This product category has been changed.
See attachment for category product details.

System Monitor

<attachment type="report">
    <name>{CategoryName}</name>
    <controller>Categories</controller>
    <view>editForm1</view>
    <filter>
        <item>
            <field>CategoryID</field>
            <operator>=</operator>
            <value>{CategoryID}</value>
        </item>
    </filter>
</attachment>
<attachment type="report">
    <name>{CategoryName} Products</name>
    <controller>Products</controller>
    <sortExpression>UnitPrice desc</sortExpression>
    <filter>
        <item>
            <field>CategoryID</field>
            <operator>=</operator>
            <value type="Int32">{CategoryID}</value>
        </item>
    </filter>
</attachment>

If a specific notification cannot be expressed with a static text template, then consider using SQL business rules to compose an email by writing notification text in the programming language of the database engine.  Database programming languages, such as T-SQL of Microsoft SQL Server, offer enough flexibility to compose a notification of any complexity.

SQL business rules are text-based scripts executed by the database engine. The scripts may include references to data controller fields, properties of BusinessRules class associated with the data controller, URL arguments, and session variables. Developers reference any of these resources as parameters that do not have to be explicitly declared in the scripts.

Application framework binds these “pre-defined” parameters to the corresponding resources, executes the script, collects the output parameter values, and ignores any datasets that may have been produced when the script was executed.

A special mechanism exists in the application framework to force it to pay attention to the output of the SQL business rule script. The developer must supply two business rules that are matched to the same command. The first business rule triggers the “awareness” mode of the application framework. The second business rule produces a dataset that will be captured by the framework. Application framework copies the output data to an instance of System.Data.DataTable class and assigns it to BusinessRules.EmailMessages property. The property implementation iterates over the data table rows and treats each row as a notification that must be sent out. The column names of the table, such as “Port”, “To”, “From”, “Subject”, and “Body” allow the framework to compose correct email messages. The message “awareness” mode is automatically turned off when the last email has been sent.

Here is an example of data controller with two SQL business rules that will generate an email with report attachments when a product category has been updated.

A data controller with two SQL business rules that will generate email notifcations in Touch UI application created with Code On Time.

The first SQL business rule is very simple

Property Value
Type SQL
Command Name Update
Phase After
Script
set @BusinessRules_EnableEmailMessages = 1

The script of the this rule assigns value True to the BusinessRules.EnableEmailMessages property of Boolean type and does nothing else. The implementation of the script may do any other type of processing if needed.

The mode of email message awareness is activated now!

The second SQL business rule will produce a singe data row. The script has a “debug” section that declares parameter values used for testing. Application framework will remove this section at runtime  before asking the database server to execute the script. The highlighted fragments are the output column names.

Property Value
Type SQL
Command Name Update
Phase After
Script
-- debug
declare @CategoryID int
declare @CategoryName nvarchar(5)
select @CategoryName = 'Confections', @CategoryID = 1
-- end debug

declare @CrLf as varchar(2)
select @CrLf = char(13)+ char(10)

select 
    -- from 
    'YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS@gmail.com' "From",
    -- to
    'RECIPIENT@nothwind.com' "To",
    -- subject
    'Category "' + @CategoryName + '" has changed' "Subject",
    -- body
    'Dear Admin' + @CrLf + @CrLf +
    'This product category has been changed.' + @CrLf +
    'See attachment for category product details.' + @CrLf + @CrLf +
    'System Monitor' + @CrLf  +
    -- attachment 1
    '<attachment type="report">' + 
    '<name>' + @CategoryName + '</name>' +
    '<controller>Categories</controller>' + 
    '<view>editForm1</view>' +
    '<filter>' + 
        '<item>' +
              '<field>CategoryID</field>' +
              '<operator>=</operator>' + 
              '<value>' + cast(@CategoryID as varchar) + '</value>' +
        '</item>' +
    '</filter>' +
    '</attachment>' +    
    -- attachment 2
    '<attachment type="report">' + 
    '<name>Products in ' + @CategoryName + '</name>' +
    '<controller>Products</controller>' + 
    '<sortExpression>UnitPrice desc</sortExpression>' +
    '<filter>' + 
        '<item>' +
              '<field>CategoryID</field>' +
              '<operator>=</operator>' + 
              '<value type="Int32">' + 
cast(@CategoryID as varchar) +
'</value>' + '</item>' + '</filter>' + '</attachment>' "Body"

Note that STMP parameters, such as Port and Password are omitted from the script. Application framework will use default SMTP settings from the application configuration file. If any of these parameters are needed to be in the message definition, then make sure that the values are included as the corresponding column names (for example, Host, UserName, etc.)

This particular implementation uses @CrLf parameter to inject end-of-line characters in the message. The entire message body is a single concatenated string of text. A real-world implementation may compose the text by iterating through cursors and executing multiple select statements.

If an HTML output is desired then the corresponding tags should be included in the “Body”.

Developers can return any number of “messages” in the output when needed. This may be accomplished by creating a temporary database table and populating it with the messages. The contents of the temporary table are selected when the job is done. Another alternative is to use UNION of several SELECT statements to send a fixed number of messages at once.

This is a sample email notification produced by SQL business rules from the example above.

An email notification with two report attachments produced by Touch UI app created with Code On Time.

Saturday, August 16, 2014PrintSubscribe
Reports at Attachments in Email Business Rules

Application framework allows generating reports on the server. This capability makes it possible to produce reports as attachments of email business rules.

Consider the following Email Business Rules implementing a simple notification executed in response to Update command in Categories data controller.

Property Value
Command Name Update
Type Email
Phase After
Script
Host: smtp.gmail.com
Port: 587
UserName: YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS@gmail.com
Password: PASSWORD
EnableSSL: true

From: "Sales Admin" <YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS@gmail.com>
To: RECIPIENT@northwind.com
Subject: Category "{CategoryName}" has changed!

Dear Admin,

This product category has been changed.
See attachment for category product details.

System Monitor

<attachment type="report">
    <name>{CategoryName}</name>
    <controller>Categories</controller>
    <view>editForm1</view>
    <filter>
        <item>
            <field>CategoryID</field>
            <operator>=</operator>
            <value>{CategoryID}</value>
        </item>
    </filter>
</attachment>
<attachment type="report">
    <name>{CategoryName} Products</name>
    <controller>Products</controller>
    <sortExpression>UnitPrice desc</sortExpression>
    <filter>
        <item>
            <field>CategoryID</field>
            <operator>=</operator>
            <value type="Int32">{CategoryID}</value>
        </item>
    </filter>
</attachment>

Note the two attachment elements embedded directly in the email message. Each element defines a snippet of XML markup describing the report execution arguments.

The first attachment is produced for Categories data controller. Data is filtered by CategoryID of the modified record. The report is produced for editForm1 view.

The second attachment is produced for Products data controller. Data is filtered by CategoryID and sorted in descending order of Unit Price. The report is produced for grid1 view.

Note the field names of the updated data record referenced in curly braces. Expressions {CategoryName} and {CategoryID} are replaced with the actual values during processing.

Attachment definitions are removed from the email body by application framework. The framework will generate each report using specified arguments and attach the report to the email before it is sent out to the recipient.

Run the application and edit any category. Click OK button to save the changes.

An email business rule will trigger an email notification with two report attachments produced in a Touch UI app created with Code On Time application generator.

The data will be saved after a slight delay.

Check your smart phone device for messages.

An email notification on an Android device generated by an Email Business Rule of an app produced with Code On Time.

This is how the email message may look.

The text of the email notification produced by an Email Business Rule in an app created with Code On Time applicaition generator.

Click on an attachment to see the report data in a PDF reader installed on your device.

An attachment report with Category details displayed in Adobe Reader on an Android device.

An attachment report with a list of Products in changed category displayed in Adobe Reader on an Android device.

Monday, July 14, 2014PrintSubscribe
Map View, Master-Detail Pages, Custom Result Sets, Client-Side APIs

Code On Time release 8.0.6.0 introduces countless enhancements to Touch UI - the unified user interface of mobile and desktop applications created with our app generator. Developers can now select a default user interface model for the apps in all product editions. The two options are Touch UI and Desktop. Applications created with Unlimited edition support both user interface models simultaneously.

Notable enhancements include:

  • Support for exact and negative search in Quick Find. For example, “USA” –“ak” will yield a list of customers from the United Stated with the exception of those located in Alaska.
  • Map view is now available in Touch UI.
  • Complex Master-detail pages are now supported in Touch UI.
  • Custom result sets based on arbitrary SQL queries, stored procedures, and web services with automatic support for filtering and sorting can now be utilized in applications. The tutorials are coming up.
  • Client-side  API has been extended with the method $app.execute. This method allows easy selection of data on the client and execution of arbitrary commands.  The tutorials will become available shortly. This method is the core of the custom GUI development in http://cloudontime.com. It performs a function similar to REST API, but works in all product editions. REST API does not require client libraries of apps created with Code On Time. The new method $app.execute works only within application and cannot be used independently.
  • Client-side API has been extended with the method Web.DataView.search. This method allows activating search in a data view on the page with filter and sort expressions defined by a developer.

Touch UI apps created with Code On Time work on all devices with an optional ability to degrade user interface in Inernet Explorer 6-9.

Touch UI automatically creates complex layouts with tabs and any number of levels of master-detail relationships.

Touch UI supports complex tabbed layout in apps created with Code On Time

Map view works on all types of devices:

Map view is a core automatic feature of Touch UI applications created with Code On Time.

The following features and enhancements are included in this release:

  • Developers can choose user interface for Azure Factory, Web App Factory, and Web Site Factory projects in the Settings /Namespace, Framework and UI section.
  • All settings of Touch UI applications can be configured in the Settings / Features / Touch UI section of application configuration.
  • Map view style is now available in Touch UI applications.
  • End users can choose Form Label Alignment in an app.
  • End users can choose Position of List Labels  in an app as.
  • Touch UI applications offer 38 built-in themes.
  • Developers can now specify default themes for pages.
  • End users can control Display Density of application pages.
  • End users can choose page transitions in apps with Touch UI.
  • Fixed the bug causing SQL business rules not being executed on each row when multi-select is enabled.
  • Data controller "Execute" method has been refactored for improved processing of multiple selected rows submitted from the client.
  • Fixed the incorrect multi-value adaptive filtering of lookup fields in Desktop UI.
  • Touch UI now uses minified CSS stylesheets.
  • JQuery Mobile 1.4.3 framework is the core of the Touch UI applications.
  • Methods $app.execute and Web.DataView.search are now supported.
    The first allows server-side requests to SELECT/UPDATE/INSERT/DELETE data on the server. The second method allows passing "sortExpresson" and "filter" to a data view to sync data. Method $app.execute also supports "Report" action.
  • Quick Find filter now uses a system name "_quickfind_" parameter to enable filtering operations on the first field in the view.
  • User controls generated "First Time Only" now include a standard template for Touch UI.
  • EASE configuration will not assign "mailto" if the field already has a HyperlinkFormatString.
  • Added fix in Controller.Filter for fields that are shorter than the search query.
  • Added Quick Find support for "exact matches" and -negative results.
  • Fixed charts not rendering in reports due to view access not being validated.
  • Data views can be tagged as display-style-grid, display-style-list, display-style-listonecolumn, and display-style-map to force a specific presentation style on all devices.
  • Renamed “Device” property of pages to "User Interface". The valid values are "Touch UI" and “Desktop”.