Friday, April 10, 2009

Pierre-Eric Rocks 2: Evolution PDF Drop And Drag

Being a Governmental agency, everything that we do is about record retention and long term storage. Citizens can request email messages at any time and we have to provide them in a format that can opened without cost based software. In other words, if someone wants email from 10 years ago we can't just simply give them a binary backup of the Groupwise 4.1 post office and expect them to get it loaded on SCO Unix and working. For ease of retention, we keep email messages in PDF format in project folders. More so in Evolution 2.6, but even in Evolution 2.24 there are a few steps and a requirement that users know how to navigate to the right folders in order to write out PDFs.

In order to make this easier, I starting poking at some ideas. I noted that currently Evolution drops and drags messages in mbox format only. I had some IRC conversations on #evolution with mbarnes, mcrha, chen and xkahn and created a scope of work and placed it on BGO here. Pierre-Eric (pepp_) was interested in the project and we agreed on the scope of work and we allocated some bounty money. An initial patch has landed. Default behavior of course will be to continue to write out mbox files, but with a gconf key change Evolution will now write out PDFs into Nautilus from a drop and drag.

I was only able to fund the areas required for our needs. I'm hopeful that in the future this functionality is expanded and moved into the UI of the Preferences screen.

This one small change will save our users countless hours of time (and frustration) in the future.

Obligatory screenshot


Anonymous said...

Seems odd that you leave implementing retention policies up to the users. Seems easy for the user's to fake or exploit.

Why not just write a server process that dumps emails out of the server?

Dave Richards said...

anonymous: Good question. We keep a rolling 3 years in electronic form in a message archiver. These are kept for legal issues and lawsuits. Not all email is required to be kept, so the users make decisions concerning projects and then export them to PDF and put them into folders. If you send me a personal email message that is not kept long term, and is only kept for 3 years. However if you email me a bid for a City project, that is retained long term. The difference requires a human decision. It's similar to receiving snail mail here at the City. Personal items are not put on file, but if I receive snail mail with City business, it's my job to get it stored and retained.

Anonymous said...

Why not plain text or rtf?

Scott Coats said...

Dave, We're interested in your Hackfest. Please let me know in plenty of time to come see you.