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[Features request] Attachments, Emails and preview


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Hi guys,

Following yesterday's Hornbill Insight 2017 event, I would like to follow up on a topic we discussed: Emails, attachments and automation.

Just to give you an idea of the situation, here is the first few records of a query I ran on the system: 

SELECT h_request_id, count(h_pk_id) as total FROM h_itsm_requests_attachments group by h_request_id order by 2 desc


Now if we look at the first request, you can clearly see we have a problem... And that particular incident is still open!


Now I do appreciate this is an extreme example BUT the point remains as you will from the stats below:


Now the problem comes from our corporate standard e-mail signature (over which we do not have any control!) as it includes a number of images:


Every single email we send internally / externally will contain this signature (if the client used to send the email is outlook). I picked an average request raised from an e-mail to show you the impact:


Every attachment to this request but 1 is an image from the signature. None of them of relevant to the request except a screenshot... But which one is the relevant one ??? Another example:


Actual email (extract):


As you can see from this example (one amongst many!), we have a lot of attachments with meaningless names and only 2 of them are relevant to the issue experienced by our customer.


1. We do not create automatically requests upon email reception. They are created manually by operators
2. Emails with a reference to an existing requests will automatically update the request

Let's summarise the issues we are facing:

1. When creating a new request from an email, the "attachments" section of the progressive capture get's "by-passed", meaning the operator does not get prompted to remove some of them


The problem is that operators raising calls will not follow instructions and got back to the attachments to remove the signature related images... And even if they did (which I repeat most of them don't! Even if we repeat 10000000000000 times), this is what they get:


No exactly very explicit is it? You need to download each image on your machine, open the file and then decide what to do with the attachment... Mega time consuming hence why they don't bother.

2. The link between the email and Progressive Capture: when raising a request from an e-mail, you need to fill in the default "summary" and "description" fields for the request in the PC. Why can't it be imported from the email? That would save a LOT of time and prevent many mistakes!

3. Every time an email is applied to a request manually, we get a nice pop-up where we can choose the attachments to include:


This is great BUT only available when applying to the request... And again which one of these attachments is relevant? (Note: I have a screenshot somewhere in the list!)

4. Every time an email is applied to a request automatically (using email automation), attachments this time are NOT included??


Note that no "attachments" section is displayed

Actual email:


This email also includes my "corporate standard email signature" so I would have expected a minimum of 5/6 images!

5. How can I delete 24 out of the 26 attachments of a request without wasting 30 minutes of my time? I can't right now...

I understand this is a lot to take in but as discussed yesterday all these "small issues" to you are actually a big deal when trying to resolve calls on a daily basis.

I might have some suggestions on how to improve this:

Attachments preview: this would be a game changer !!!
- Images preview should be very easy to implement (although you might want to build thumbnails to speed things up which I can understand requires a bit more time to develop)
- PDF preview should not be very complicated either to implement
- Other types of documents: I can understand this is a more tricky business (and I would personally understand if it was excluded from the scope of any development)

Issue 1:
- fix the "by-passing" of the attachments
- alike the "apply to request", show the modal with the attachments to consider BEFORE going into the PC?
- preview attachments (on "hover" or by default in the screen) would considerably help too!

Issue 2:
- find a way to link email.subject and email.body to request.subject and request.description in a progressive capture (by default) but still overrideable by analysts

Issue 3:
- Preview attachments would literally solve this issue! In this particular example, having it inline with the name of the attachment would be better than "hover" BUT User Experience (UX) should be considered

Issue 4:
- Is it a bug? Is it supposed to work like that? Or is it just me being stupid and having a wrong setting somewhere?/

Issue 5:
- we need some sort of mass delete button that would display all attachments in a scrollable modal window with preview of the attachments, a "select / unselect all" button, checkboxes for all attachments (unchecked by default) and a "delete all" button (which confirmation just to be on the safe side!)

Sorry for the length of this post but I cannot possibly imagine being the only customer having these issues with regards to attachments, emails and automation. We spent a lot of time yesterday discussing it with a few Hornbill developers and I know there are simple solutions available which would not require that much time to code, test and deploy. But they would make a massive difference to us on a daily basis.


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Thanks for the detailed explanation, I can see where you are coming from, the workflow is being hindered by the fact we cannot differentiate between a signature image and an embedded image. I will have to get an internal discussion going to see if we can understand how we might improve this but as you can imaging there are a lot of layers involved in the relatively simple act of handling an email message. 

We should be able to differentiate between embedded images and actual file attachments, we appear to roll everything up as an attachment which it actually is but we could tell the difference between a file attachment and an embedded images.  Differentiating between a screen shot and a signature image would be more difficult, I would need to look carefully at the raw mime content to get an appreciation of what it possible.  Perhaps retaining (where possible) the origional file name would help, as would doing some form of fingerprint on the images, it might then be possible to provide a way for you to configure exclusion rules that will automatically ignore the stuff you are not interested in when initiating a request from an email.   Just thoughts but it does sound like there are things we could do to improve the situation. 

We will post back when we have more comments. 


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Guest Chaz

@Lyonel it was good to meet you on Wednesday and thanks for posting on the forum.

  1. I'm going to discuss this with the team today and just have a look at the journey. I'll reply back with the outcome.
  2. I've just tried this and if you use the standard 'Request Details' Progressive Capture form then the content of the email is mapped correctly to the summary and description. Are you using a custom form to capture this information by any chance?
  3. We discussed this internally I think because of another discussion at the event, so it's on our radar
  4. Known issue, which I've added you as a connection to
  5. Will discuss with the product team and see if we can get a proposal raised for this. It's a good idea.
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Thanks @Gerry and @Chaz for looking into it :)

Just to be 100% clear I am very much aware of the complexity regarding this topic (especially the interpretation of the images in an email). I can't think of a viable technical solution to solve this problem, except changing the UI to "force / hint" the user to review the attachments when raising / updating a request from an email.

If you need more details, feel free to ask! I am more than happy to help

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Not sure if this is related to @Lyonel request, but I want 2 feature requests to be considered around emails:

1) Email preview - when we send a customer an email from a ticket we can't see what is being sent (based on the email templates) before being sent (like Supportworks used to have). Even if we can't amend from the preview (I want to be able to amend), being able to see what is being sent would help provide a clear picture to the analyst.

2) Email templates don't have a field of "logged in analyst", only "owner, team, customer". So if another analyst wants to send an email from a ticket being owned by a colleague their name is not used (rather the originally owner).




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Guest Chaz

@nasimg with regards to your second point, email template content can only be picked up from the record itself which is why such a field wouldn't be available.

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If the field doesn't exist (have to be honest not sure why as I can update the ticket without being an owner) - then my first point of having the ability to see a preview of what is to be sent is more important. Is this a possibility?



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On 7/3/2017 at 3:34 PM, Chaz said:

@Lyonel we've improved the layout of the popup so attachments are harder to miss:

The improvements I provided above will be in our release, we just noticed some things during our testing cycle that could work better so there will be a few minor tweaks to follow in future releases.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The new update,  with the improved layout of the attachments is a great help.  However,  If we are able to configure the system so that a preview of the attachment becomes possible, that will be excellent.  There are daily occurrences where customers will email us an attachment but they will also insert an image on their email. They will also have logos/signatures  on their email so currently, there is no way of determining, which attachment is the logo and which is the screen dump. Thanks.

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