RG040 – Dynamic bitmaps for outlook signatures

By Sascha Maier

 

In this technote I will describe the usage of different bitmaps in an Outlook email signature, for different departments. Once in a while, the Marketing guys are contacting you because they have a new promotion, event, product or simply a logo/graphic has changed. Now your task is to manage this change from a central place and probably for different departments too. With the RES Workspace Manager this is a piece of cake. In this article we’ll handle BMP files. You can use JPG’s as well.

Step 1) Prepare the Bitmap files and Upload it to the custom resource section

Custom Resources are files and folders of your choosing, which are distributed and referenced by other parts of RES Workspace Manager. Custom resources are very useful if you have files to distribute to each target computer, but the files can’t easily be placed on a centrally available file server (due to WAN layout, firewalls, etc) It could also be the case that said files must also be be available when a laptop is offline. Other examples of Custom Resoruces are small utillities needed on the computer, command scripts, or even storage of a local mandatory profile (!)

Go to Setup > Datastore and select Custom Resources > Click Add and select the pictures for the Outlook Signature:

 

Step 2) Create Environment variables and point to the resources.

We’ll now configure two instances of an environment variable, with access control configured for 2 different departments. The purpose of the variable is to determine who gets what signature bitmap. At the end of this exercise, every department will get the right bitmap in the Outlook signature being displayed.

  • Go to Composition > Other > Environment Variables
  • Make sure the Environment variables subsystem is enabled. Check the radio-button at the top.
  • Click Add at the bottom.
  • In the ‘Administrative note’ field you can place some information about the variable. This is optional, but I recommend it.
  • The ‘Variable’ field should contain the name of the variable, let’s call it SIG. You don’t need to add percent characters here.
  • The ‘Value’ field should contain the name of the bitmap you uploaded in Step 1.

Note that you can use the %rescustomresources% variable to reference the location of the cached custom resources, this is a nice way of eliminating hard-coded paths in Workspace Manager. The full path in the variable fields should be %rescustomresources%\yoursignaturepic.nnn like shown in the example below.

The next step is to go to the Access Control tab to configure what department or group should get the given signature bitmap.

Now repeat the items above from Step 2, creating a second variable:

  • In Composition > Other > Environment Variables, click Add again
  • In the ‘Variable’ you MUST use the same name as before (SIG)
  • The ‘Value’ should this time point to the second bitmap you uploaded in step 1.

Also please configure the Access Rights properly for the second variable. Make sure it differs from the access control on the first variable you created.

When all is done, you should have the following two variables in your Environment Variables node:

3) Configure the Outlook signature to show the image

Go to Composition > Applications > E-mail Settings, and open the existing signature (If you do not have one please create as described in the RES Workspace Manager Administration Guide). Hit the Configure button.

As the internal editor does not support inserting bitmaps, it is necessary that you check the box “Use external editors” and select “Edit HTML”. If you select this option, you have the option to edit each format individually, when making changes to the signature. The signature will always be shown in Rich Text Format, even when editing plain text or HTML. To use bmp files in the signature you have to use the HTML editor. The signature will always be shown in Rich Text Format, even when editing plain text or HTML.

Important note: The RES Workspace Manager console will open the default editor associated to the .txt, .rtf and .html filetypes. If you are running the RES Workspace Manager console on a computer where MS Office has been installed, Winword is the default associated editor for .html, which may lead to complications as the resulting HTML is not very clean. I suggest you either run the console on a clean machine, or better yet – just change the editor for the .html file extention to something else, like Notepad if nothing else is available.

 

Presuming, you’re using Notepad or a clean HTML editor, you now have the opportunity to add the picture in html code. Use the following
<a href=”www.ressoftware.com”  target=”_blank”> <img src=”%SIG%”></a>

This will show the image in the signature and open up the www.ressoftware.com in the user’s default browser if he/she clicks on the picture.

4) Go try it!

For these changes to take effect, tou will need to log out and log in, as the variables in the Composition|Other|Environment variables are only parsed at logon. You could move them to the Outlook app if this is a problem, then you can just do a refresh. Here’s what User1 in the Sales dept. looks like after Outlook is launched and a new email has been started:

 

This is what User2 in Marketing looks like:

Note that the signature fields support usage of any %variable% or built-in Workspace Manager functions, like $adinfo().

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