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This is a follow up from CodevWebNotifyThread.

As an idea, it would be nice to be able to specify the interval time on a user level, perhaps as a new preferences variable, or as a value you specify in the WebNotify topic (e.g. Main.WikiName - email - minutes).

-- PeterThoeny - 19 Apr 2000

If done as a new preferences variable:

  • New variable %NOTIFY_INTERVAL_TIME% that defines the interval time in minutes, starting from midnight.
  • Set in TWikiPreferences.
  • Can be overloaded in WebPreferences and user preferences.

If specified in the WebNotify topic:

Which one is more intuitive / user friendly?

-- PeterThoeny - 27 Apr 2000

From a usability point of view it should be in the users page, though this may make the code harder and less efficient.

Maybe as an option allow people to specify either particular topics of interest and/or ones to ignore. I guess have two variables with lists of pages to watch or ignore. e.g. (allow say all as keyword), and then process them in order they appear, like in apache setting files.

-- MathewBoorman - 27 Apr 2000

Let me do my devil's advocate thing and suggest that the usability issue is very dependent on who is doing the using. I guess I'll just admit to being a techno-geek and say that of course it should be on the user's page from that point of view. But, I have the advantage of having some non-geek friends and family, a few of whom are required to use things like TWiki at work, and from their point of view I can guarantee that the usability would be enhanced by

  1. Having the a page with simple documentation at the top and a place to "sign up" at the bottom, and
  2. Having a very simple "sign up", all of which is right there in one spot.

Thinking about this further leads me to a feature that may get its own thread...if we want to satisfy the experts and the lus... um, the people that will be "just using" TWiki, we might do something like this:

A user gets a hidden attachment file, say .twikirc, in the ../<attachments>/UserName dir when they add their home page. It gets a default set of name=attribute pairs for the individual things that a user can set. When they edit a page that has setting on it, the save script checks their home page, and if there is no conflicting setting there it modifies the user's .twikirc file. Whenever they edit their home page, the save script checks for settings and modifies their .twikirc accordingly.

A knowledgeable user could, of course, expose their .twikirc file as an attachment, but so what?

This seems to me to be a solution to the problem that pretty much isolates the coding in a single script (save) and allows any uservar to be set anywhere, but gives the user the power to make a definitive decision in a single spot--the best of both worlds.

-- KevinKinnell - 27 Apr 2000

I would vote for specifying the time in the WebNotify topic. This is easy enough to grasp (WebNotify is linked from WebHome, and the explanation is right there on WebNotify). Implementation would be very much isolated to read the WebNotify topic.

The cron tab entry would be set fixed to run the mailnotify script once per minute. The script would do the calculations (using a temp file, or better yet calculus only) and send off individual emails.

Question is performance. Sending off one email per web is faster then sending off individual emails to each user per web.

Opinions? Anybody up to tackle this task?

-- PeterThoeny - 03 May 2000

One issue is possible DOS attacks. Even creating a mimimun refresh rate, doesn't help if some one turns around and creates several hundred users. If you ignore that, maybe some discrete event handler (time until next event) would work.

Personally I think that a setable refresh interval like currently, and allow user setable interger period of that. ie. 15, 30 (2), 45 (3), 60 (4), ... , 1440 (96), ... or x, 2x, 3x, ... , 100x , ... . Should be rather easy to modify the mailnotify script to handle that.

Something like this in mailnotify:

  • increment timing counter (overflow problems?)
  • check who has update period less than counter and send mail
  • update the counters of those who got spent mail

-- NicholasLee - 07 May 2000

Another suggestion: Add more pages. You will thus have:

Theses pages will refer each to each other, so it should be simple to understand, and an implementation would be to add an option to specify the $notifyTopicname extension to the mailnotify script, and have N entries in the crontab with the different topic name extension passed to them...

-- ColasNahaboo - 15 Mar 2001

Moved below topic from DevOpinionPoll to here.

-- PeterThoeny - 22 Mar 2001

Raised by PeterThoeny on twiki-dev list:

Dear TWiki-Dev members,

Richard is asking if we should limit the notifications to weekdays. I am not sure since some members are active mainly on weekends. Lets ask the community: Opinions? ... snipped ...

Regards, Peter

Personally given that's when I get to do most Twiki related things, so I'd personally hate to see this. Probably comes back to the idea that WebNotify should be more personalisable... So in normally Twiki tradition : (It'd be nice to using the voting plugin for this TBH though smile

Keep Web Notification at Weekends:

Option People's votes
Yes MichaelSparks,
No RichardDonkin,
Yes MartinCleaver
Yes PeterThoeny

Add further options, and your Twikiname to the list. Peter can decide whether anonymous votes are OK. (Sure, why not? -- PeterThoeny) The above is unofficial, and just my thoughts smile

-- MichaelSparks - 19 Mar 2001

I'd really like to see a personalisable WebNotify - clearly there are people who prefer to get this stuff at weekends, just as there are might be people who prefer three messages a day.

-- RichardDonkin - 19 Mar 2001

I'd be all for personalizable notifications, with these options:

  • Immediate
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • On request only
Customizable per Web (and maybe on a per-topic basis - sometimes I want to monitor just a single topic, or all topics except a few ones, or different topics at different intensities, a BugAlert topic would deserve a more immediate investigation than a FeatureProposal).

-- JoachimDurchholz - 21 Mar 2001

For ease of use by non-technical people, i'd like to suggest that time intervals be specifiable in the form: nndnnhnnm, so that if I want an email notification every 12 hours, I can put 12h, if every 30 minutes I can put 30m and if once a week, I can put 7d. I think this is a lot more wiki-like then making people figure out (for instance) a week as 60*24*7 minutes. A little tougher to program maybe, but a LOT nicer to use.

One might further extend it to a day of the week. If I put Monday (or Mon), then I mean I want all the mail updates on that day of the week only. That way, those who prefer email notifications only on (for example) the weekends would be served. Or perhaps, Mon, Wed, Fri means I want it on those three days of the week only.

All this might be on the complex side to program, but it pays off for the target of our affections, the casual user, not the techno-geek. (It's my opinion that it's the literate users who have made Wikis popular, not the uber-geek types like <> us. smile

(NB: Of course, now that we have this elaborate notification system in place, let's add a calendar and scheduling - a complete generalization of the problem.)

-- DavidLeBlanc - 23 Mar 2001

Don't forget immediate notification (and optional inclusion of the whole topic text). And somewhere in the future, you want a reply-to address for each subject such that the reply gets appended to the topic to complete the Email to Twiki circuit.

-- MartinCleaver - 23 Mar 2001

This got brought up again in OmittingEmailInWebNotify: "(much harder) Be able to specify periodicity per user."

-- WalterMundt - 08 Jan 2003

Although it would be very nice to be able to specify a notification frequency in minutes on a per user basis, I suspect

  • this is somewhat awkward to do via a cron-like mechanism
  • it is very liable to denial-of-service attacks
  • it is misleading to the users, since you don't guarantee such a scan rate, you just make a best effort to do so. If the cron-equivalent of mailnotify gets backed up, and you have done 15 minute intervals, you may get nothing for 45 minutes and then 3 back-to-back.
Overall, I suggest that really fancy notification like this should be left to the user, via RSS. Really fancy notification should not be part of TWiki at all, although TWiki may want to point people to good RSS readers/summarizers, that can, e.g., convert to email. In fact, TWiki may want to provide such a beast.

Overall, I suggest that only basic notification functionality be part of twiki. To whit:

  • The cron job frequencies should be set up by the administrator. There should be no attempt to dynamically vary the cron job frequencies.

However, this is not inconsistent with having multiple schedules. E.g. run multiple cron jobs, passsing a tag to distinguish the different runs.

   % crontab -e
   15,45 * * * * (cd ~twiki/public_html/bin; ./mailnotify -q -tag half-hourly)
   0 * * * * (cd ~twiki/public_html/bin; ./mailnotify -q -tag hourly)
   0 2 * * * (cd ~twiki/public_html/bin; ./mailnotify -q -tag daily-at-2am)

(Yes: I have lots of users who are interested in getting notifications on granularities such as daily and weekly.)

Let each mailnotify use the tag to produce different files recording time of last run, and so on.

Let each user specify the tag attached to the query If specified in the WebNotify topic:

Let there be a few "standard" names - hourly, weekly, EarlyMondayMorning, etc. Enough to give an idea of intent, but vague enough to allow the sysadmin some freedom to change the times - e.g. if backups are run at 2am, run the early morning notify either before or after, but not in 2am-3am.

Provide the ability to do mappings, e.g. weekly -> early monday morning.

But please do not go all out trying to define a scheduling system. You won't do a good job, and, worse, it will be something the sysadmins will have to know about because it may potentially create a heavy load on the system at inopportune times. ("Uh, no, sorry, Mr. IT VP, backups did not get run on Friday at midnight because 4000 wiki users got their weekly notifications of changes and clogged the system. Too bad about that disaster.")

-- AndyGlew - 26 Jun 2003

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Topic revision: r15 - 2008-09-17 - TWikiJanitor
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