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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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Assigning Reports to Analysts

I’ve said that the responsibility for a record in the ProductAnalysis docbase is shared between a manager who assigns a report and an analyst who writes it. Let’s explore how that can work. It makes sense to bring email into the loop, because the act of making an assignment is best expressed in a push medium. When you assign a report to me, you don’t want to wait for me to check the work schedule posted somewhere on the intranet; you want to notify me right away. That notification, expressed as a URL, can link me straight to a partly completed report form, as shown in Figure 6.2.

A plain ASCII message, as shown in Example 6.12, can transmit the URL that links to that form.

Example 6-12. Plain-text Message Assigning a Report to an Analyst

To: jon@udell.roninhouse.com
From: sally@udell.roninhouse.com
Subject: Collabra Server report due 1999-05-01

<http://udell.roninhouse.com/cgi-bin/Docbase/formgen.pl?
     app=ProductAnalysis&duedate=1999-05-01&analyst=Jon%20Udell&
     company=Netscape&product=Collabra%20Server%204.0>

Jon, I think the new groupware server is called
Collabra Server 4.0. Could you please verify
that and fill in the correct name on the report?

Here we’re relying on the ability of the recipient’s mailreader to autoactivate the URL—that is, render it as a clickable link. We’re also assuming that the recipient is, or can be, connected to the server that generates the form.

Do I really expect the research manager to compose a message like this? No. ...

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