Customizing DeskAlerts client manually

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To make DeskAlerts look and work the way you want it to, you can:

  • brand DeskAlerts with your corporate colors and logo.
  • add buttons, images, and menus to support behaviour your workflow requires.
  • present different content and options to different users dynamically, as they log in.
  • localize all text strings using Unicode characters to support most major languages.
  • extend DeskAlerts’ behaviour with JavaScript and AJAX.
  • allow automatic upgrades of the DeskAlerts Clients as new versions become available.

To customize the DeskAlerts Client you will need to follow these steps:

  • Unzip the DeskAlerts Client distribution package that you received into a working directory.
  • Modify the data\blank\conf.xml and data\version\version.txt files as explained in the following sections.
  • Run the DeskAlerts Client Installer to create new files for distribution.

Make the necessary files (the .CAB or .EXE file, plus HTML files, as explained later) available on your Intranet or Internet, or to users for download.

The conf.xml file

The DeskAlerts Client configuration file is called conf.xml. It is available in client data\blank in the client installation package that you received from supplier. This file is distributed with the DeskAlerts Client installation and governs much of the way the application looks and functions.

It is important to know, however, that XML is a tag-based language, with content appearing between pairs of tags that have the general form <tag1>…</tag1> or <tag1 attribute=”value” />.

An XML file must be well-formed and valid to operate properly, so using an XML editor may save you some frustration. The conf.xml file has this minimal structure:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
<ALERTS icons=”icons.bmp” hot_icons=”icons.bmp”>
<!– Commands goes here. –>
<!– Settings goes here –>
<PROPERTY id=”server” default=”” />
<!– Menu items goes here –>
<!– Visual elements goes here –>
<WINDOW name=”minibwindow”… />

conf.xml ALERTS tag

The ALERTS tag is the outermost wrapper for the conf.xml file, and all other tags must nest within it. It has the following format:

<ALERTS icons=”icons.bmp”>…</ALERTS>

Attributes icons is the name of the bitmap file that provides images for the application. The file must be in this format:

DeskAlerts client icons

DeskAlerts supports 16×16 icons.

conf.xml COMMANDS tag

The COMMANDS tag is a container within which you define DeskAlerts Client commands.

There are four commands that are normally defined this way:

<UNINSTALL name=”uninstall”/>
<UPDATE name=”update”/>
<DISABLE name=”disable” alert=”alert”/>
<BROWSERJUMP name=”browser” filename=”%firstURL%”/>
<MINIBROWSERJAMP name=”minibrowser” window=”minibrowserwindow” filename=”%firstURL%”/>
<OPTION name=”option” window=”optionwindow1″ filename=”%root_path%\options.html”/>
<HISTORY name=”history” window=”historywindow1″ filename=”%user_path%\history.html”/>
<ALERT name=”alert” history=”history” window=”alertwindow1″ filename=”%alert_url%” expire=”5″/>
<STANDBY name=”standby” expire=”5″/>
<EXIT name=”exit”/>

These commands provide basic functions that are evident based on their names.

You can also define multiple BROWSERJAMP and MINIBROWSERJAMP commands here. This command has the following basic syntax:

<BROWSERJUMP name=”browser” filename=”%URL%”/>

This command opens URL in the new browser window. It also supports sending variables by the HTTP POST request (submitting a form), like this:

<BROWSERJUMP name=”newcommand1″ post=”var1=%user_name%&amp;var2=%deskalerts_id%” />
<MINIBROWSERJUMP name=”newcommand1″ filename=”http://yoursite/somepage.html newbrowserwindow=”false” window=”minibrowserwindow”/>

This command opens the URL in a new custom window defined below.

Invoking the commands

Once you have defined a command within the COMMANDS tag in the conf.xml file, you can invoke it in the DeskAlerts Client in many ways:

<ITEM caption=”Option” img=”” command=”newcommand1″ /> (see “conf.xml ITEM tag“);

conf.xml SETTINGS tag

This section of the conf.xml file allows you to specify alert texts and error messages, startup behavior, default colors, and many other look-and-feel attributes.

A typical SETTINGS tag might look like this:

<!– scope is the time in hours the application waits before checking for updates, in auto-update mode. A setting of 168 would tell the application to check for updates once a week. See note below about autoupdate –>
<!– Messages that will be needed for various alert windows –>
<PROPERTY id=”corruptedMsg” default=”One of the XML files is corrupted or invalid. Press OK to uninstall.” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”uninstallMsg” default=”This will remove Deskalerts from your computer! Are you sure?” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”updateMsg” default=”This will try to update Deskalerts from the server. Continue?” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”autoUpdateMsg” default=”New version of Deskalerts is available. Would you like to download and install it?” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”uninstallMsg” default=”This will remove DeskAlerts from your computer! Are you sure?” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”versionError” default=”Can not find current version information.” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”updateFailMsg” default=”Unable to update DeskAlerts.” const=”1″/> <PROPERTY id=”noUpdateMsg” default=”There are no update.”/>
<PROPERTY id=”noUpdateMsg” default=”There are no updates.” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”connectionError” default=”Can’t establish a connection.” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”lastVersionMsg” default=”You have the latest version of Deskalerts.” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”delete_history” default=”Are you sure you want to clear history?” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”unreadedMsg” default=”You have %count unreaded alerts” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”delete_alert” default=”Are you sure you want to delete current alert from history?” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”minibrowser_header” default=”Please enter your information:” const=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”alert_header” default=”New Alert!”/>
<PROPERTY id=”history_header” default=”History”/>
<PROPERTY id=”debug_mode” default=”0″/>
<!– locations of key URLs. See notes to each URL –>
<PROPERTY id=”server” default=”” />
<!– This tag identifies a page, perhaps a welcome message, that will display in a window beside the application the first time the user starts DeskAlerts –>
<PROPERTY id=”firstURL” default=”%server%/after_install.asp?deskbar_id=%deskalerts_id%&amp;client_id=3″/>
<!– this URL is the path to the folder where the application installation files are stored. This folder must have the .cab file that contains the application package and the version.txt file. –>
<PROPERTY id=”serverpath” default=”%server%/update/”/>
<!– This update will only happen if the version.txt file on the server contains a version number greater than that in the version.txt file on the client computer –>
<PROPERTY id=”updateUrl” default=”%server%/update/”/>
<PROPERTY id=”silentUpdate” default=”0″/>
<!– A landing page after the application is updated –>
<PROPERTY id=”urlAfterUpdate” default=”%server%/after_update.html”/>
<!– Confirmation URL is called when a message is read –>
<PROPERTY id=”confirmationUrl” default=”%server%/get_alert.asp”/>
<!– An URL for checking for new alerts –>
<PROPERTY id=”alert_url” default=”%server%/get_xml.asp?uname=%user_name%&amp;cnt=%cont%&amp;desk_id=%deskalerts_id%”/>
<!– Sound which plays on new aler –>
<PROPERTY id=”sound_file” default=”%root_path%\notify.wav”/>
<PROPERTY id=”update_automatically” default=”1″/>
<PROPERTY id=”play_sound” default=”1″/>
<!– An interval for checking for client updates –>
<PROPERTY id=”update_expire” default=”20″/> <!– min –>
<!– Controls how many alert windows the user can see at one time on the desktop. –>
<PROPERTY id=”cont” default=”1″/>
<!– Defines the time between checks for new alerts when in normal mode (minutes). –>
<PROPERTY id=”normal_expire” default=”1″ /> <!– min –>
<!– Defines the time between checks for new alerts when in standby mode (in minutes). –>
<PROPERTY id=”standby_expire” default=”0″ /> <!– min –>
<!–Defines the maximum time period of inactivity before DeskAlerts goes to standby mode (in minutes) –>
<PROPERTY id=”normaltostandbyexpire” default=”5″ /> <!– min –>
<!– Defines the time to store alert in history (in minutes). (0 mean keeps it forever) –>
<PROPERTY id=”history_expire” default=”0″ /> <!– day –>
<PROPERTY id=”datetime_format” default=”%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S” const=”1″ />

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