A SharePoint Messaging System
So what exactly would a SharePoint Messaging System be about? What do I mean and why do I thnk it is a good idea? I wanted to use this post to go over the concept and then go into more detail in subsequent posts. But first, I would like to present some background that led me down this path.
Currently I work in an environment with WSS 3 only. We are possibly going to upgrade to SP 2007 or may skip that one and go straight to SP 2010. There is no time line for that either. I am asked to create Sharepoint solutions that require a lot of work and I normally do most development in Visual Studio 2008. I do not have SPD 2007 on my production machine though I do have it on my development machine. So I have some tools to develop with. I am allowed to write .Net code or any code needed to get the job done so there really is no limit in that regard. So that is that side.
The next piece I wanted to to share is that our email is plain text only email and any html is stripped out. So unfortunately alerts just look rather ugly even if they are customized to look somewhat better. So there is the meat of our environment. Not the best, but at least we have SharePoint!
So with that said, I have been working on several sites and I really try to make things easy whenever I can. I am working on 2 major projects right now and both clients want to have something better than just email alerts that look ugly or emails that do not give them much detail. I was showing each of them some stuff with a custom Edit Control Block and the things that I could do with it. They were excited about the possibilities and I was asked if I could have an option to send a message to the "Assigned To" user or the "Author" of an item from the ECB. "Of Course I Can!" was my reply.
It was at that point as I had already written several event receivers and a timer job that send emails that I just felt I needed to have something extra. A light bulb turned on and I have not been able to turn it off yet! I thought that yes, I could email users for sure, but what if I could also use SharePoint and a site to build a real messaging center. Something that could tell a user who was on any page in SharePoint that they had something new to look at and they could see it with full HTML without it being ugly. That was when the thought stuck and that is why I am writing this.
There is an endless amount of ways I could do this thought I have a few in mind that I am going to lay out in more detail soon. But basicaly here is a pseudo list of how this might work.
I know this is just a small part of what you could really do, but I think that this has a lot of possibilities. I think that I want to do this using jQuery and SPServices for most of the work. I could wrap it in a feature or something like that and it could be added to any site that wants to support it.
- User decides he needs to message a coworker for whatever reason.
- User clicks a link on a page or item in an ECB to message someone.
- A popup (jQuery UI dialog maybe) opens to present the messaging form.
- User fills it out and hits OK/SEND or whatever.
- If the recipient is on a Sharepoint site they will get the notification.
- Recipient opens the message.
Well, there it is in a proverbial nutshell. Is it a good idea, mediocre at best or what? Any thoughts are appreciated!