Last day at Knowledge11! What a great conference! I’ve had a great time meeting with so many awesome people this week. Yesterday Ian Broz and I were helping Karen Lazarenko during a 1-on-1 (maybe 2-on-1 in this case) session. She had a cool idea to make approval request emails coming from her system a little bit more intuitive by replacing or modifying the ‘mailto’ reply text links for approval and rejection with images that more clearly distinguished the links and the purpose of the email.

The challenge that we faced was how to easily add those images while maintaining the mailto functionality and populating the correct information (including the watermark ID) on the reply email. Here’s a screenshot of the solution we came up with. Read on to see how we did it!

Approval Email Images

This post is not intended to be a full explanation of the approval email notification process but I think a short explanation is helpful in understanding the problem we faced. When an approval record is put into a requested state, it triggers an event that sends out an approval email corresponding with the task the approval is associated with. The approval email (and corresponding email template) are chosen based on the task type and event triggered. For request tickets the email template is called ‘request.itil.approve.role’ and everything else uses the ‘change.itil.approve.role’ email template.

Approval templates actually go one step further by including special mailto links within the email that allow you to show ‘Approve’ and ‘Reject’ reply links directly in the email. This makes it a little bit easier for your users to process these approvals directly from their email client. The template code that does this looks like this…


What this says is that the system will construct a mailto reply link in the email based on the ‘mailto.approval’ email template. The ‘mailto.rejection’ template serves the same purpose. Each of these two templates contains the actual text for the mailto link that pulls in the number of the task to be approved as part of the link.

Click here to approve ${sysapproval}

The end result of this setup is an email notification with a couple of links for users to approve or reject directly from their email client.

Approval Email

So…now to add images. One idea would be to modify the template code to accomplish this. The challenge is that the ‘${mailto:mailto.approval}’ command in our first template automatically adds some important information (our reply watermark ID) to the reply email for us and there’s not another simple way to replace that functionality. The simplest solution in this case was to intercept the email on its way out of the system (after the original mailto link had been formatted) and modify that piece of HTML to include our image tags. This technique is something I’ve described before on this blog if you want to read more.

All of this can be done in a simple business rule on the ‘sys_email’ table. The business rule runs when the email record is being sent and corresponds with the approval table. Then it looks for some specific text that is included only in the approval templates…’Click here to approve’ and ‘Click here to reject’, and replaces it with an image tag. The only thing you’ll need to modify in the script below are the URLs for the images themselves to point to your own instance or other publicly-available images of your choosing.

‘Add approval images’ Business Rule
Name: Add approval images
Table: Email (sys_email)
When: Before
Insert: True
Condition: current.target_table == ‘sysapproval_approver’ && current.type == ‘send-ready’

current.body = current.body.replace('Click here to approve', '<img src="" />');
current.body = current.body.replace('Click here to reject', '<img src="" />');

Here is the end result…

Approval Email Images