Q. How can I send a custom notice to a set of users via Alma?
Custom notices (letters) may be sent via the Update/Notify Users job in conjunction with the User Notifications Letter.
Our User Notifications Letter has been configured to allow each college to send a notification without editing the letter's XSL source. This will allow each college to send a letter of up to 4 paragraphs. The limitation of using this technique is that you cannot add formatting such as bold text or italics, lists, links and so on. The letter includes the standard logo, link to library record and patron-facing footer found in our other letters.
If you wish to further customize the letter, you will need to edit the XSL source. To do this, identify the section of the XSL specific to your college and add standard HTML elements. Note that the letter is marked up as a table; this would be non-standard on web pages but is common in HTML email.
Note that elevated administrative permissions are required to run the Update/Notify Users job.
Note on coordination
Because we will generally be using email subject lines and letter names specific to the custom notice, there is a danger that two people will be editing the letter at the same time, and a letter could end up going out with the wrong subject line. System admins should
- inform their counterparts know when they will be sending out a custom notice, and
- check the subject line and letter name before sending the notice out to users.
If you are simply working on the text that will go in the body of the letter, there's no need to inform anyone, since we will be using different labels.
Step 1: Create a set of users
The Update/Notify Users job is run against a set of users. Create a logical or itemized set of users who will receive the item. Note that while some advanced search fields are available for users, for many purposes you will need to use Analytics to get a set of user IDs and import these into an itemized set.
For testing your notification, you should create a set consisting just of you. An easy way to create this set is to do an Alma user search for your user ID, click Save Query, and name the set after yourself.
Step 2: Edit the letter
- Go to Configuration - General - Letters - Letters Configuration
- Page through to the User Notifications Letter (note: an upcoming Alma release will make the Letters list easier to navigate)
- Click the letter's name or click the More Actions menu - Edit
- Enter text into the labels designated for use by your college. Note that labels display in alphabetical order based on their text, so frequently these codes will not be displayed in order. Assignments:
- ARC: labels codes Line_1 to Line_4
- CRC: label codes Line_5 to Line_8
- FLC: label codes Line_9 to Line_12
- SCC: label codes Line_13 to Line_16
Note that you do not need to use all four labels. Each one is a paragraph, and unused labels will create extra padding in the email. You cannot leave a label blank; if you do, the word "empty" will be displayed in the letter. Instead, flip the toggle switch on the left to deactivate the label.
Also note that the text input box for each label is very small. You will want to compose your text outside of Alma and copy-paste it into the label boxes.
- Change the subject label to whatever you want the subject line to show
- Change the letterName label to the heading you want to display at the top of the email.
- If you want to use CC or BCC, activate the label and enter the appropriate email. Note this will send each outgoing email to that address, so using this feature is not recommended.
- To preview:
- Click the Letter Examples tab
- Find the entry matching your college
- Click the More Actions menu and select Preview.
You can also send this preview to an email address to quickly check the formatting.
Note: the Letter Name that displays at the top may not match what is entered in the letterName label. The heading is inserted into the letter XML when the letter is sent. Therefore, to see the letter as it will actually be received, you will need to send the letter via a job, rather than just preview it.
- Be sure to click Save before exiting the letter, otherwise changes to labels will not be retained.
Step 3: Test/send the letter
Important: before sending the letter to your set of Alma patrons, you should send it to yourself using a set consisting of your own user record.
- Go to Admin - Run a Job
- Find the Update/Notify Users job
- Select it and click Next
- Find the set you want to receive the letter
- Select it and click Next
- In the Task Parameters, check the box next to Send notification to user and select the appropriate Custom Letter from the dropdown
- Click Next
- Review the parameters. If all looks good, click Submit
- A confirmation dialog will show telling you how many users will receive the notice. If all looks good, click Confirm
You will probably get an email notification that the job completed within a few minutes. If not, go to Admin - Monitor Jobs and check the job report for any errors. While the job doesn't take long to complete, if the set of users is very large it may take hours for all the emails to be sent.