It is impressive how far we can get during a project if we try to meet all our customers’ requirements, including those that seem somewhat complicated to solve. During one of our projects in Middle East we received one of such requests. Our customer was asking us to build a functionality to send screenshots of their dashboard by email. Fair enough.
We immediately thought of installing some PDF creator free tool and tell them to print to pdf and then attach the document to the email but there were too many steps according to our customer. We needed to achieve this functionality with a single “click”.
Within a couple of hours and some emails sent to my colleagues Pierre-Emmanuel Larrouturou and Lluis Aspachs, we were then working on a solution meant to work with open source software and free tools that we found on google.
Below are the steps we followed to achieve the goal:
We created the exe file that makes the snapshot and attached it to an email
- It looks for C:/Temp or D:/Temp folders to save the image
- It looks for Outlook (Office 2003, 2007 or 2010) both in C:/ and D:/ Drive
- We added the Xcelsius_burst.bat to skip the windows to authorize the launch of the exe
- We saved the two files within C:/ Drive but it can be added also to D:. if the user creates a dedicated folder only the .bat file needs to be edited
- We added the bat file path to a URL button in Xcelsius and run it
Notes: please check your browser options to avoid the bat popups if they are a problem. This version only works if installed within each customer machine. If you want to install it into a server (to avoid the multiple installations) you can create a more complex solution using the Pstools available for free in the network and adding it to your web server (in our case it was tomcat).
You can download the files by clicking on the link below. This solution is quite simple but it made our customer quite happy.
Just to add more value to the article, there is another way to crack this issue: we are also adding below the latest version of the feature Dashboard_by_email.exe, which allows any screenshot (not only from Dashboards) to be automatically attached to emails. The program needs to run at windows startup and the user can get the screenshot directly attached to his/her email by pressing CTRL+ALT+D. Click on the link below to download.
We are also aware that the market is now offering add-ons for Dashboard Design which can also meet this and other requirements. You can check out what our friends at Data Savvy Tools (http://datasavvytools.com/) created for dashboard printing. We have tested their component that allows the selection of dashboard components to be printed out (and it´s great).
Let us know your comments and we will be more than happy to discuss these solutions with you.