8 Replies Latest reply on Oct 21, 2014 10:39 PM by BMyers

    Looking for an email conversation ID


      Imagine that you are creating an app that includes letting users take notes. A user might write: "Today after a long email discussion among the team we decided to assign tasks as follows..." I'm looking for a way to link the FMP note to the email conversation so a user can drill down to the string of emails if they want. The goal is to create just a simple time-saver over switching apps then manually searching for the email conversation.


      Here's what I have so far. Every email has an identification called message_ID. I can extract the message_ID by having FMP run an AppleScript and insert the result into a FMP field. [Imagine a FMP table named Linked_Email with a field named Message_ID. The LinkedEmail table then has a relationship connection to the FMP Notes table]. Then, I can have Safari display that email by writing a FMP script that puts that message_ID into the Safari URL line with the syntax like this: message://<FMP_TableName::FMP_FieldName>


      OK. So far, so good. I have two questions for improvements.


      1) With this method Safari will open one particular email. I'd like to display the email conversation rather than a single email.


      2) I'd like to display the email in AppleMail rather than Safari.


      The reason for these improvements is that a person reviewing their notes might want to see the whole email conversation, and seeing it in the mail app provides the whole thread in context. Does email even have a conversation ID? I can't find one.




        • 1. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

          It may be eaier to use an FM based email system, then you have all the flexibility you need.. You can mix noted with letters, scanned documents, phone call notes and basically a chronological list of events.


          You also have the ability to manupulate the data, which you would not have in an external mail client.

          • 2. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

            Thanks, Garry.  The goal is to have a chronological list of tasks (meetings, phone calls, memos, etc.) so a user can see the work for a project in one place.  I like the idea of importing the email into FMP.  However, I see two negatives with that approach.  It's difficult for someone to write an email client in FMP that is better than the specialist companies (Apple, MSFT, etc.).  For example, importing an email into  FMP is sub-optimal (to me)  for the simple reason that FMP won't display in-line images or workable file links.  It's odd that FMP doesn't, as Apple clearly knows how to do this as demonstrated by AppleMail.  Too bad, because it would be an interesting project to write an Evernote or OneNote type app in FMP but it seems to be a losing battle.  Second, AppleMail does a great job of displaying conversation threads as a series of individual messages as opposed to the mess that happens when previous messages are merely appended to the latest email message.


            FMP works great as for outgoing email, for example, for marketing emails to a list of potential customers.  But that's not the intended use with the app I'm creating. 


            So rather than try to make FMP do a better job than AppleMail at displaying email, I'm testing the approach of simply creating a link from a FMP record to the particular email conversation. 

            • 3. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

              We have a plugin, that allows you to have a full webmail client in your FM solution.


              BusinessMan Webmail Screenshot.png


              If you want to keep a thread of conversations such as note, emails, tasks, phonecalls and any other type of record that relates to the subject..


              Perhaps it is a sales opportunity or a project etc, you can create a record according to the operation. If it's an email, you can post the email from the email client to a filemaker record with a webviewer present.


              When you open up a note, a filemaker text field will pop up, when you open a task in that chronological portal view, another filemaker layout will pop up with the task details. When you click on the record that holds the email data, it will display the email as it came in.


              HTML Email Client.png


              You can also post the selected email from the email client into your application, so only the pertinent email is actually present in your system, perhaps against a matching contact email address, rather than actually downloading all email into FileMaker.


              This works cross platform and you can also pop-out the email client into your local browser, while you have you FileMaker application open.


              This sort of functionality exists in most of the major CRM systems, so if FileMaker is going to be able to compete with this functionality, we must push FileMaker beyond its current limits.

              • 4. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

                Thanks, Garry.  I can appreciate that you are trying to sell your particular CRM/ERP system and I understand your persistence. 


                However,  my design experiment  started with the question of whether it was possible and useful to link notes in FMP to  email conversations in an existing email client (the first test is for AppleMail).  The point of the exercise is as a design alternative to the usual course of starting with the premise that a FMP dev can  turn FMP into the world's best email client.  I have good design reasons for inverting the starting premise, and I hope you accept that is the premise.

                • 5. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

                  Without pulling in all of the emails in a conversation into FMP from the POP3 server, how will other users of your solution be able to view these emails ?   You could probably do this much easier if you used a web based email service to host your email instead  and used IMAP as your protocol.

                  • 6. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID



                    I think you have missed Garry's point completely.

                    They have a pluggin.... not sure which one, but there are several out there... which turn your FM DB into an email client.... and some come with a sample interface already developed.


                    Mail is just a conversation with a mail server using one of the standard protocols like POP & IMAP. You can suck text emails and HTML emails and display and respond to them in FM and incorporate them in your contact history right alongside your phone log...


                    Sent from my iPad

                    Lyndsay Howarth

                    11th Hour Group Pty Ltd

                    • 7. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

                      I was just trying to point out, that in many cases, we have always had the same challenge, the user company wants to centalize their data so all users can see the thread of conversations. This cannot be seen in an individuals mail account, so the FM platform is ideal for providing this feature.


                      Mail has always been one of the greatest challenges, where you have the option of copying and pasting the mail content into an FM field, which is not always convenient, or, using a plugin that pulls all the email into the system, which bloats the database.


                      My email account on our Exchange server has 6Gb messages going back many years. I certanly would not want all that mail in my FM system.


                      We have a plugin for developers that supports full PHP, which allows you to build a full webmail client to be utilised to view email from within FileMaker, then you can selectivley add the email to your system, using specific rules, to enable you to deal with the email as you wish.


                      It also supports the in-line graphics you mentioned as a requirement.


                      We use the plugin in our own system, because we wrote it to solve the same problem you are experiencing. The screen shots are to show you what can be done.


                      Pretty much as Lyndsay described.


                      That is what this forum is for, to help people find a solution for their needs. If the plugin is useful and solves your problem, then surely I should point it out and then you can decide whether or not it is right for you..


                      There are many plugins that have been used over the years to enhance the capabilities of FileMaker.. This is just another one of them.


                      Sorry if you felt it was just a sale pitch.

                      • 8. Re: Looking for an email conversation ID

                        Thanks everyone for comments. 


                        The goal here is to find an alternative to pulling email into FMP.  I know that's what is done currently.  This is a design exercise to look for an alternate method.  I hope we can agree that turning FMP into an email client has its downsides, but please, let's not debate it.


                        @Garry: BTW, the video of your mail app stops at about the 1 minute mark.


                        @xeaudesign: I think there are at least three ways to look at this.  (1) Employees generally don't see each others' email now.  There are scenarios in which a workgroup would want to consolidate messages, and there are other scenarios in which that would simply lead to clutter.  This design exercise assumes that a executive would want to link that exec's notes to that exec's email without sharing all the email and creating clutter with all the email.   (2) A program like AppleMail can move a copy of a message to a central directory and that directory can be searched.  In other words, if an exec made some notes and decided to link to a message thread, the software could  move those messages to the shared directory.  (3) A combination of methods, so if an exec wanted to have personal file notes then an email could be linked, but if the exec decided to share the notes the email text would be pulled into FMP (or shared by method #2). 


                        In any event, I wish to turn this discussion from the question of which method is better to a discussion of how to accomplish this linking method I described in the first post in this thread.