Categories

Follow our news:

Follow canonburysvcs on Twitter Follow Canonbury Services on Facebook Follow Canonbury Services' news by RSS Follow Canonbury Services' news by Atom Follow Canonbury Services' news by email

NEWS & TECH BLOG

Emails, phones and GoldMine

28/01/2013 – in Techniques

More and more people are using GoldMine in conjunction with their mobile phones. Products such as GoldMine Mobile Edition and wMobile give live access to the GoldMine database, and Companionlink can synchronise GoldMine with a phone’s native contacts and calendar.

Email can still be a problem though. This post will look at the two sides of this – sending and receiving.

Receiving emails

The POP way

Much depends on your infrastructure. Here at Canonbury Services we have a very simple set-up, and it suits our needs well. Other people, as we shall see in a moment, have more complex requirements.

As I say, our set-up is simple. We use POP3 mailboxes provided by our ISP. GoldMine works in its normal way, as in it brings down the emails from the server to store in its own database, and deletes them from the server when it does so. We also pick up emails on our phones, but are only concerned with doing that when we are out of the office and so logged out of GoldMine. The phones collect the emails but do not delete them from the server; that way they are still available for GoldMine to download when we return to the office and log in.

We aren’t bothered about having our entire email history on the phones because we can access the live database over the air by means of (in our case) wMobile.

The Exchange way

GoldMine isn’t an IMAP client in the true sense of the word, and neither does it want to be. It can connect to Exchange using the IMAP protocol, but it still likes to do things its own way. It certainly isn’t interested in synchronising its mailbox with a phone – it wants to collect every email that you receive and doesn’t want a remote device deleting them or otherwise messing with them.

One way is to use the IMAP connectivity but, in all other respects, carry on as if you were using POP3; in this case, GoldMine will collect emails and delete them from the server, but this can upset Exchange administrators and phone users alike. Phone users who have been used to seeing all of their email history on their phones can get quite distraught when that is taken away from them.

Another way is to try to come close to being a good IMAP client, and to not delete emails when fetched but just to ignore those that have been marked as read. However, the relationship between GoldMine and Exchange in this case is not entirely straightforward. Particularly, deleting an email from the GoldMine inbox will NOT delete it from Exchange. Similarly, deleting it from Exchange (or from another IMAP client) will NOT delete it from GoldMine. Also – and this is a corker! – when you empty your GoldMine email trash (which you should do on a regular basis), all of the deleted emails will be re-fetched from the server and will come straight back into the inbox.

Not good. Add to this the possibility that emails can be marked as ‘read’ by being read on the phone before GoldMine has had a chance to see them, and you can see that there are some major obstacles to overcome.

The Exchange way, part 2 – GoldMine and Exchange happily coexisting

Luckily, there is a very simple way to overcome the problems identified in the previous section.

1. Firstly, set up a ‘shadow’ mailbox for every Exchange user. So, if my main mailbox is rob@test.com, call the shadow one something like gm_rob@test.com.

2. Then set Exchange to automatically forward a copy of all incoming mail to the appropriate shadow mailbox. Fortunately, when configured to do this, Exchange maintains the original ‘from’ address.

3. Any ‘normal’ IMAP clients can continue to connect to the main mailbox.

4,. GoldMine can connect to the shadow mailbox and collect and delete emails happily.

This gives each system what it needs in order to function as it is most comfortable.

Why doesn’t GoldMine behave like Outlook?

Personally, I think that having GoldMine maintain its own database of incoming and outgoing emails is a great strength. It doesn’t rely on any external systems (such as Exchange) for its storage and it isn’t prey to emails being deleted on another device. The emails in GoldMine are linked to the contact records and have a context that they don’t have if viewed in Outlook.

What about the Outlook link?

The Outlook link is another way of dealing with the IMAP hurdle. Emails are received by Outlook and are then copied, by the link, across into GoldMine.

My view is that the link can be very valuable when there is some external factor forcing the continued use of Outlook (perhaps a company-wide edict) but, wherever possible, it’s best to have just one email client – and if GoldMine is your CRM system then GoldMine should be your email client as well.

The link is quite complicated, it’s something else to maintain, and it means that you have three components to install and look after instead of just one.

Sending emails

When a GoldMine user sends an email from their phone it is lost to GoldMine unless steps are taken.

There are a few established ways around this, which I will introduce before suggesting an alternative (or at least an enhancement):

1. wMobile’s Email Fetcher service can intercept outgoing emails if sent via Exchange and can attach them to the appropriate GoldMine record
2. The Riva Exchange link can apparently do the same thing, but we haven’t tried this ourselves
3. Send a BCC into Goldmine

The first two involve third-party software. We’re great fans of wMobile and, if you’re already using it for remote access, and you’re using an Exchange server, then the Email Fetcher comes free. Otherwise, of course, it’s extra expense. Similarly with Riva – if you’re already using it to synchronise your calendars at server level then it makes sense to use it to capture outgoing emails; otherwise, again, it’s extra expense.

Which brings us to the third option….

BCC into GoldMine

Most phone email clients allow you to specify a default email address to which a copy of every outgoing message is sent. This is known as automatic BCC, or blind carbon copy.

Some phone email clients will let you choose any email address as the default BCC destination, whereas others only let you send a BCC to your main address (known as ‘bcc to yourself’). Either way, we can use this to send a copy of every outgoing email to GoldMine.

It is worth noting that it is the interaction between the mail server and your particular phone email client that will determine whether or not emails BCCd to ‘yourself’ loop round to appear in the phone’s inbox (which can be a bit annoying!).

iPhones only allow BCCing to ‘yourself’, whereas several Android clients allow you to specify another address. We use Maildroid and it has the latter feature.

A nice twist to this idea is to set up autoforwarding on the Sent Items folder at the mail server level. This saves anything having to be done on any of the phones.

The BCCd emails can be retrieved by GoldMine. The problem though is that they come from ‘you’, and so will be linked to your own contact record (if you have one) rather than the record belonging to the person to whom you sent the email. Emails can be re-linked by hand but this can be tedious and so is rarely done.

The re-linking script

We’ve written a SQL stored procedure which will solve this. Contact us for more information.

Share