Guide to the Notes/Domino Out of Office. Part 1: Out of Office Design and Features

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Abstract

This document, the first in a series of four, describes in detail the design features and behavior of the Lotus Notes/Domino Out of Office functionality, answering these questions:

1. Out of Office terminology: What are some frequently used terms to describe the Out of Office functionality?
2. What does it do (and not do)?
3. Where is the Out of Office functionality located?
4. How does a Hide When formula affect when you see the Out of Office options in the Notes client?
5. How does the Out of Office functionality work?
--What happens when you click the Enable button?
--What happens each time the Out of Office agent runs?
6. How does the Out of Office functionality work with local replicas?

Content

==

Guide to the Notes/Domino Out of Office Functionality
Part 1 - this document
Part 2 - ACL Access Level and its impact on the Out of Office behavior
Part 3 - Configuration of the Out of Office
Part 4 - Out of Office in iNotes/DWA
==

1. OUT OF OFFICE TERMINOLOGY:

To better understand the Out of Office process, let us first define a few terms that are frequently used when discussing and troubleshooting the Notes/Domino Out of Office functionality.

Out of Office Agent: Describes the agent portion of the Out of Office functionality. However, this term is frequently used interchangeably with "Out of Office functionality." EXAMPLE: "None of my users' Out of Office agents are working." In all, it is the agent that you enable and disable, and this is why we frequently refer to Out of Office functionality as the Out of Office agent.

Out of Office profile document: Refers specifically to the Out of Office profile document, a profile document unique to each person's mail database. Because it is a profile document, it does not appear in any view or folder of the mail database. You enable and disable the Out of Office agent from the Out of Office profile document's Notes client interface.

Notified field: A text field on the Out of Office profile document that stores a list of the e-mail addresses of all persons notified of your absence.

Welcome Back Message: A one-time e-mail generated on the return date by the server that contains the data of the Notified field.

Disable Reminder Notice: If you do not disable the Out of Office agent on the return date, this is the e-mail generated by the server to remind you to disable your Out of Office agent.

Calendar Profile document: Another profile document within each mail database. It stores mail and calendar preferences and is available using the button Tools -> Preferences in the mail database. The Calendar Profile is important to Out of Office functionality because it stores the name of the mail file owner.

Hide When Formula: A Notes/Domino design capability that allows you to conditionally display or hide either text or a certain design element. A Hide When formula was added to the Notes/Domino 6 Out of Office functionality.


2. WHAT THE NOTES/DOMINO OUT OF OFFICE DOES:

The Notes/Domino Out of Office functionality does these things:

  • Composes and sends an e-mail to notify others of your absence -- how frequently the notifications are mailed out depends on the mail template version:
    --The 5.x design runs as a scheduled agent once a day at 1 AM. Note: The design is not intended to be scheduled more than once a day.
    --The 6.x, 7.x, 8.x design runs as a scheduled agent every 6 hours, from 4 AM - 12 AM
  • Allows you to optionally send a different response to a subset of specific persons
  • Sends one e-mail PER SENDER of e-mail
  • Stores the e-mail addresses of the person(s) notified of your absence in the "Notified" field of the Out of Office Profile document
  • Creates and sends you a "Welcome Back Message" upon your return
  • If you forget to disable your Out of Office agent, the agent sends you reminder e-mail(s) to disable the agent

When you enable the Out of Office agent, it also provides options to:
  • Set the days you will be out: start date, return date
  • Set your own personal message for notifications
  • Select NOT to reply to Internet addresses (as opposed to internal Notes addresses), certain individuals, groups, or e-mails with certain subject(s)


WHAT THE OUT OF OFFICE DOES NOT DO:
  • Does not allow delegated mail file users to enable the agent for the mail file owner; it is not designed for anyone besides the mail file owner to enable it
  • Does not work for users with Author access or below in Notes/Domino 6, or Editor or below in R5
  • Does not notify in a 1:1 ratio for each and every e-mail, by design; instead, it responds to each unique SENDER of e-mail
  • Does not immediately send out e-mail notifications, by default and design
  • Does not run on weekends, by default
  • In R5, by default, does not work for a one-day absence or as expected for the last day of an absence.
  • Does not disable itself


3. WHERE TO FIND THE OUT OF OFFICE FUNCTIONALITY IN THE NOTES CLIENT :

To access the Out of Office functionality within the Notes client, you go to the mail file's Tools menu, available in two places:

A. Actions -> Tools -> Out of Office (from the "Actions menu")




B. Tools -> Out of Office (in the mail file "Action bar")


4. WHY YOU MAY NOT ALWAYS SEE THE OUT OF OFFICE OPTION IN THE NOTES CLIENT:

In the 6.x and 7.x mail template, by design, only the mail file owner of the database has the ability to access the Out of Office action button.

If you are not the mail file owner, for example if you are a delegate or Domino Administrator, then you will not be able to see the "Out of Office" option in the Tools menu. The 6.x and 7.x versions of the Out of Office functionality require that the owner of the database enable the agent. Therefore, this button is hidden from delegates and other users by using a Hide When formula. Note: For additional details on this subject, refer to the document "Out of Office Agent Not Visible in Dropdown Menu After Upgrade to Notes/Domino 6" (# 1106949).

Starting with Notes/Domino 8.0, the Out of Office feature supports delegation. This means that an administrator or delegate has the access necessary to set and enable the agent for the mail file owner of the database, assuming that the delegate/admin has at least Editor access to the owner's mail database.

5. HOW THE NOTES/DOMINO OUT OF OFFICE WORKS :

The Notes/Domino Out of Office functionality consists of two components, both part of every mail database:
    a. A LotusScript agent called "OutOfOffice"
    b. A profile document created from the "OutOfOfficeProfile" form

(For general information about Notes/Domino profile documents and how they are different from other document types, refer to "What are Profile Documents and How Are They Used?" [# 1089387])

Because these two unique components work together to create the Notes/Domino Out of Office functionality, it is important to understand the difference between the two, especially when troubleshooting issues with Out of Office.

The OutOfOffice agent contains the LotusScript code that executes each time the agent runs. The agent is run by the Domino server Agent Manager task, the task responsible for the execution of all agents. It runs on a schedule in the background on the Domino server:
    --in Notes/Domino 5.x: by default, once a day at 1 AM (Exact execution time depends on server load and activities at the scheduled time)
    --in Notes/Domino 6.x: by default, every 6 hours between 4 AM and 12 AM (Exact execution time depends on server load and activities at the scheduled time)
    --by default does not run on weekends in either Notes/Domino 5 or 6.

The Out of Office profile document stores necessary values relative to the current execution of the Out of Office agent, such as the days you will be out, the list of individuals notified of your absence (stored in the "Notified" field), your personalized messages for each outgoing e-mail, and so on. When accessing the Out of Office action in the Notes client, you are really accessing an interface for the Out of Office profile document, where you enable and disable the Out of Office agent.

Each time the Out of Office agent runs, it refers to the Out of Office profile document to obtain any special message you set, the days that you are out, and to consult the Notified field to ensure that each sender of e-mail only receives one Out of Office notification e-mail.

NOTE: For optimal performance and ideal execution of the Notes/Domino Out of Office functionality, you should enable it for more than one business day, starting "Tomorrow" or later, not "Today."


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CLICK THE ENABLE BUTTON?

At the moment a user clicks the ENABLE button of the profile document, the LotusScript code does the following steps:
  • Checks the Mail File owner field of the current Calendar Profile document to ensure that it matches the current ID file in use
  • Checks the current user's ACL status to current database to ensure that he or she has proper rights to enable the agent
  • Checks the user's Home or Mail server in the current Location document to determine on which server to run, then sets the agent to run on that Domino server
  • Verifies the current User ID (the user who clicked the Enable button) to determine what name to put in the From field of all e-mail notifications
  • Validates the dates selected by the user to ensure that the leaving date is today or a date in the future and that the return date is a date after the leaving date
  • Books Busytime for the days selected
  • Sets a status flag to "Enabled" in both the agent and profile, hides the Enable button, and displays the Disable button instead
  • For 6.x Editor-level users, submits an AdminP request to the Administrations Requests database on the server

Note: For further details related to the Enable button relevant to ACL access, refer to Part 2, Section 2 of the "Guide to the Notes/Domino Out of Office."

WHAT HAPPENS EACH TIME THE AGENT RUNS?

At the time that the Out of Office agent executes and runs each time, it does the following:
  • Checks for new mail received since the previous run
  • Consults the Notified field of the profile document and compares the sender's name with names already stored in the Notified field. If the new mail sender is a new, unique name (not already in the "notified" list), the server:
    -- Composes a new Out of Office notification e-mail (with either the default message or any special message),
    -- Sends it to the sender of the newly received mail message
    -- Adds the new e-mail address to the "Notified" field
    -- Marks the newly received mail document as a Processed Document, so that the agent will not act on it again
  • Goes to the next document, and repeats the steps until all newly received mail documents have been processed
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When the return date is reached, the agent discontinues the e-mail notifications. It sends you a "Welcome Back" message containing a list of all persons notified of your absence. For any subsequent agent executions, if the agent has not been disabled by the return date, it sends you repeat reminder e-mails to disable the Out of Office agent.


6. OUT OF OFFICE AND LOCAL REPLICAS:

In Notes/Domino 6.x, 7.x and 8.x, it is allowable for users to enable their Out of Office agents in a local replica. However, in order for the agent to run successfully, users must also replicate their local replica with their server-based mail database, as the agent must be run on the Domino server.

Users with Manager/Designer access can enable the Out of Office agent in a local replica in Notes/Domino 5 or 6. Beginning with 6.0, users with Editor access can enable the agent from a local replica.

Known issues:
a.) For 6.x Editor-level users:
When users with Editor access enable their Out of Office agent from a local replica and replicate this change to the Domino server, they might not be able to successfully disable the agent upon their return. This issue was reported to Quality Engineering as SPR# XZSU5S38DN and fixed in Lotus Notes/Domino 6.0.5 and 6.5.4. Both the client and server must be upgraded in order to realize this fix.

b.) For 6.x and 7.x Manager/Designer users:
Intermittently, in some subsequent runs of the Out of Office, the new dates selected in the Out of office profile have been reported to not replicate up to the Domino server from the local replica. This issue does not appear to be reproducible on demand, and it does appear to affect the selected dates in the profile as well as the special message. One workaround is to enable the agent in the server-based copy.

Related Documents:

Out of Office Agent Not Visible in Dropdown Menu After Upgrade to Notes/Domino 6
Technote #: 1106949

What are Profile Documents and How Are They Used?
Technote #: 1089387

How to Delete Profile Documents Manually or by LotusScript in Notes
Technote #: 1088892


Out of Office Agent Will Not Run After Rename or Recertification of User
Technote #: 1174472

Cross reference information
Segment Product Component Platform Version Edition
Messaging Applications IBM Domino Mail Server 8.0, 7.0, 6.5

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Document information


More support for:

IBM Notes
Mail

Software version:

6.0, 6.5, 7.0, 8.0

Operating system(s):

Mac OS, Windows

Reference #:

7006404

Modified date:

2008-07-21

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