Creating Mail policies in Lotus Notes/Domino 7
Most users, especially executive administrative assistants, require accurate and dependable calendars. However, few people take the time or have the savvy to configure their calendars. In company after company, the results are the same: frustration and discontent for the executive (as well as user) and too much time spent troubleshooting calendar problems for the support staff. Troubleshooting out-of-synch calendars can be onerous, time-consuming, and frequently unrewarding.
Wouldn’t it be great if, as an administrator, you could apply and enforce standardized processing of calendar and mail settings? Before Lotus Notes and Domino 7, important features such as autoprocessing, setting up availability times, and displaying calendar entries could not be centrally controlled and standardized. If this critical data could be processed the same way across the enterprise, you can ensure standard results. This would enhance the user experience and allow you to focus on troubleshooting mail routing problems.
With Domino policies, you can centrally control many of the features and functions of the Notes client for your users, including mail and calendar features. Lotus Notes and Domino first introduced policies in release 6, and Lotus Domino 7 not only enhances this functionality, but also introduces the new Mail Settings policy. This article starts with a brief, high-level review of Domino 6 policies, and then jumps into the new Domino 7 Mail Settings policy. It shows you how each section of the policy can solve various issues. This article is intended for experienced Domino administrators.
A quick policy review
Domino 7 policies include all the base policies from release 6. These policies provide a control point for administering many functions of Lotus Notes and Domino. You can create a policy document to identify a collection of settings documents, each of which is applied to various parts of Notes and Domino architecture. The Policy Settings document covers these administrative areas. Let's start with a quick review of the release 6 settings and finish with the new Domino 7 Mail Settings policy.
NOTE: There have been several upgrades to the policies first introduced in Lotus Notes and Domino 6, including Desktop and Security updates. Be sure to refer to the Lotus Domino Administrator help for a description of these new features.
The Registration policy governs various user registration values, including:
- Internet address format
- Roaming user profiles
- Mail servers
- Certification requirements
- User password formats
The Setup policy governs how the Notes client is configured at setup time, including:
- Location document settings
- Internet browser settings
- Desktop and user preferences
Mail Archiving policy
The Mail Archiving policy governs how the Notes client is configured for archive management, including:
- Local archives
- Server-based archives
- Archiving rules
Desktop Settings policy
The Desktop Settings policy governs how the Notes client desktop is managed, including:
- Mail template information
- Smart Upgrade
- Database links
- Client preferences
The Security policy governs how security is applied to the user. This is a powerful setting that includes:
- ECL management
- Password synchronization
- Password management options
- Key rollover (new with Lotus Domino 7)
Mail Settings policy
New to Lotus Domino 7, the Mail Settings policy governs how mail properties are enforced. New features include:
- Control of calendar and scheduling features
- Message disclaimers
- Ownership controls of the mail files
Lock it down
A new and powerful Domino 7 feature is the ability to enforce a Notes client policy lockdown. This new lockdown feature provides a mechanism for you to control who can change which policies. The lockdown client policy settings are available for mail (except for message disclaimers) and desktop policies. The implementation of the lockdown feature is different for each type of policy document.
You can lock the Mail Settings policy properties on a per field basis by means of the "Allow user to change" option, while the Desktop Settings policy uses a per tab setting to manage client lockdown. This is the "Allow users to change settings on this tab" option.
Notes Dynamic Configuration (NDC) processes Mail Settings policy properties on each client. The NDC process executes on the client after you have configured each of these settings in the Domino Directory. Notes clients authenticate with their home server, and then the NDC process updates the information that was pushed down to the clients from the Domino server. The NDC reviews each setting to determine the status in relation to each policy, field setting, and tab setting. Once complete, the NDC updates each field and property in the Notes client as needed.
You can lock down various Desktop Settings and Mail Settings polices for any user. In the case of your executives, you can protect them from themselves by locking down certain features, so they cannot be changed.
Domino 7 Mail Settings policy
The new Mail Settings policy document consists of five tabs:
- Mail File Preferences
- Message Disclaimers
Each tab provides a series of settings and features that you can manage and control for each Notes client.
The Basics tab provides a location for you to record information about the mail policy and includes two fields: Name, which is the name of the policy setting, and Description, which is a description of this particular policy setting.
Mail File Preferences tab
The Mail File Preferences tab has three subtabs: Mail, Calendar & To Do, and Access & Delegation. In each of those subtabs are additional subtabs. This article covers each of these subtabs, beginning with the Mail subtab.
Mail - Basics subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Mail - Basics subtab of the Mail Settings policy document provides a number of settings to help manage your executives. This subtab has four sections (see figure 1), each with a single setting described below.
Figure 1. Mail File Preferences - Mail - Basics subtab
The User Configuration section includes the "Allow users to change mail file ownership" option, which determines whether or not the user can change mail file ownership.
The Spell Checking section includes the "Automatically check mail messages for misspellings before sending" option. You can enable/disable this setting and can also choose when this action is executed. The choices are:
- Don’t Change. Do not apply this setting – respect user’s preferences.
- Always. Apply each time AdminP runs.
- Initially. Apply only when new mail databases are created.
Delete/Remove Preference for Sent View
The property in this section determines whether or not you are prompted to delete messages from your Sent view. The three options are:
- Always Ask. The Notes client prompts you with a dialog box in the event that you want to delete a message from the Sent view (see figure 2). If you click the Delete button, the Notes client deletes the message from the mail file. If you click the Remove button, the message is removed from the Sent view, but remains in the All Documents view.
Figure 2. Deleting from Sent dialog box
- Always Delete. The Notes client automatically deletes the mail message from the Sent view. Messages are deleted out of the mail file.
- Always Remove. The Notes client automatically removes the mail message from the Sent view, but it remains in the All Documents view.
In addition, you can choose when this action is executed: Don’t change, Always, or Initially.
This section includes the setting "Soft Delete expire time in hours," which allows you to set the time of the soft deletions.
Mail - Letterhead subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Mail - Letterhead subtab provides the option to Set default Letterhead, enabling you to define the letterhead that appears on outgoing email messages affected by the policy. If you select "Yes," then an additional dialog box appears, showing the various letterheads available in a drop-down list (see figure 3).
Figure 3. Mail File Preferences - Mail - Letterhead subtab
Calendar & To Do - Basics subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Basics subtab includes a number of features to limit how long entries exist in each user's mail file. This subtab has one section, "Defaults for New Calendar Entries," which includes three options (see figure 4):
- "Double clicking on a time-slot in Calendar creates a." Enables you to choose a default selection for the users defined in the Policy Type field of the policy document. The options include:
- All Day Event
- "Duration of a new Appointment or Meeting (in minutes)." Specifies the default time that can be selected for an appointment or meeting duration. The default is 60 minutes.
- "Anniversaries repeat for (in years)." Defines how long anniversaries are created for users that have this policy applied. The default is 10 years.
Figure 4. Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Basics subtab
Calendar & To Do - Display subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Display subtab (see figure 5) provides additional controls over the client to format how the Calendar view is displayed; basically, you can set it and forget it. The sections on this subtab are as follows.
How the Calendar View is Displayed
This section enables you to control how each time field is displayed by default. Each of these is shown in figure 5 with its default setting:
- The work day begins at 7:00 AM.
- The work day ends at 7:00 PM.
- The "Each time slot lasts" field is set to 60 minutes.
- By default, the "Start monthly view with current week" field is not selected; when selected, it indicates "yes."
- The work week includes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Figure 5. How the Calendar View is Displayed section
Displaying Calendar Entries in Mail Views
This section consists of a series of options that control how and where each calendar entry is displayed along with a choice of when these actions are executed (Don’t Change, Always, or Initially). The options are shown in figure 6 with their default settings either selected or deselected:
- "Put C&S documents into a special New Notices MiniView for processing" is deselected.
- "Hide new calendar entries and notices in All Documents view of Mail" is deselected.
- "Hide new Meeting invitations in the Sent view of Mail" is selected.
- "Remove Meeting invitations from your Inbox after you have responded to them" is deselected.
- For the "Types of Meeting notices to be shown in your Inbox" field, the choices are All, All Except for Responses, and None.
Figure 6. Displaying Calendar Entries in Mail Views section
Calendar & To Do - Scheduling subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Scheduling subtab has two sections (see figure 7).
This section manages a default set of availability times through policies. You may use these options for a third-shift group of factory workers, for example. Figure 7 shows the default settings for a new Mail Settings policy.
When Adding an Entry to your Calendar
This section manages scheduling conflicts and shows the scheduler who manages the details for each participant. There are two default choices for this section and one additional choice based on selection criteria:
- "Check for conflicts when adding appointments, accepting meetings, scheduling a new meeting." This self-explanatory option is not selected by default. When this option is selected, then another option displays.
- "Note a conflict if entry occurs outside available hours described above." This option determines if a conflict is manifested as part of this process. This is not selected by default.
- "For new meetings, the Scheduler initially shows." This option allows you to control the schedule details for each participant. Options are "Schedule details for each participant" (default) and "Suggested best times for meetings."
Figure 7. Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Scheduling subtab
Calendar & To Do - Alarms subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Alarms subtab includes one default section. If alarms are enabled (default), then two sections appear (see figure 8). Using this subtab, you can set up default alarms based on each executive calendar entry type and decide when these actions are applied, for example, Don’t Change, Always, or Initially.
The Enable/Disable Alarms section is displayed by default, and when enabled, the "Default Alarm Settings When Creating a New Entry (On/Off) How Far in Advance" section appears. The fields for this section are shown in figure 8 along with their default values:
- Appointments/Meetings are 30 minutes in advance.
- Reminders are set to zero minutes in advance.
- Events are one day in advance.
- Anniversaries are one day in advance.
- To Dos are one day in advance of due date.
Figure 8. Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Alarms subtab
Calendar & To Do - To Do subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - To Do subtab lets you manage how the various To Do functions execute and process in a user’s mail file. This policy has one section with two field settings, "Hide To Do entries in the Calendar" and "Allow Notes to update To Do status and dates for incomplete entries," shown in figure 9 with the defaults (deselected).
Figure 9. Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - To Do subtab
Calendar & To Do - AutoProcess subtab
The Mail File Preferenes - Calendar & To Do - AutoProcess subtab enables auto-processing of new calendar invites that are delivered into a user’s mail file. This subtab also controls automatic Inbox management and has two primary categories with one optional section, "When a meeting invitation is received from anyone" (see figure 10).
Automatic Processing of Meeting Invitations
This section consists of a single field "Enable automatic responses to meeting invitations," which enables Notes client users to process meeting invitations automatically. It is not selected by default.
When a meeting invitation is received from anyone
This section appears only if "Enable automatic responses to meeting invitations" is enabled. The three choices for this section are:
- Automatically accept if time is available; if not, automatically decline
- Automatically accept if time is available; if not, let me decide
- Automatically accept even if time is not available
Automatic Inbox Management
This section consists of a single field, "When you delete a Calendar Notice from your Inbox or a Mail folder/view." Options are "Prompt to confirm deletion" and "Remove from this view/folder without prompting."
Figure 10. Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - AutoProcess subtab
Calendar & To Do - Rooms and Resources subtab
Lotus Domino 7 has a new and much-improved Rooms and Reservations system, which is implemented by the new Rooms and Resources Manager (RnRMgr) server task. This new server task is designed to prevent overbooking of rooms or resources and is responsible for the processing of all reservation workflow that is related to reserving a room. Using a combination of this new server task and the Mail Settings policy, you can now ensure that executives get the room that they want when they want it.
The Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Rooms and Resources subtab controls the defaults for rooms and resources (see figure 11). It contains the following three sections.
Default Reservation Settings for choosing Site
In this section, you can specify a preferred site, determine whether or not to use your preferred site as the default site in the Find Room and Find Resources dialog boxes, and decide whether or not to be prompted to reset your preferred site when you schedule a room or resource in another site.
Default Meeting Settings for Rooms
This section lets you choose one of these three options:
- Prompt me to add rooms to my list when scheduling meetings
- Always add rooms to my list when scheduling meetings
- Never add rooms to my list when scheduling meetings
Default Meeting Settings for Resources
This last section lets you choose one of these three options:
- Prompt me to add resources to my list when scheduling meetings
- Always add resources to my list when scheduling meetings
- Never add resources to my list when scheduling meetings
Figure 11. Mail File Preferences - Calendar & To Do - Rooms and Resources subtab
Access & Delegation - Access to your Mail & Calendar subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Access & Delegation - Access to your Mail and Calendar subtab lets you control whether or not users can grant other users access to their email and calendars. This subtab consists of one section, "The following people or groups have been delegated access to your mail file," which has one field, "Allow users to setup delegees to their mail file" (see figure 12). By default, users can change this setting.
Figure 12. Mail File Preferences - Access & Delegation - Access to your Mail & Calendar subtab
Access & Delegation - Access to your Schedule subtab
The Mail File Preferences - Access & Delegation - Access to your Schedule subtab determines how much access you have when granting others access to your schedule information. This feature enables you to lock down a group of executive calendars. The subtab has two sections (see figure 13).
Who is allowed to see your schedule information (when you are busy or available)
In the "Who is allowed to see it" field, the "Everyone may see your schedule information" option is selected by default. If you select the "No one may see your schedule information" option, the second section is hidden.
What schedule information they may see
In the "What schedule information they can see" field, the "Detailed information about your calendar entries" option is selected by default. If you do accept this default, you are presented with the choice "Do not include the subject of a calendar entry when detailed information is made available." The default is Yes.
As with other menu choices, you can select when these settings apply (Don’t Change, Always, or Initially) and whether or not to allow users to change the setting.
Figure 13. Mail File Preferences - Access & Delegation - Access to your Schedule subtab
Message Disclaimers tab
In Lotus Notes/Domino 7, you now have the ability to add message disclaimers using policies. Messages can be added by the server or by the client at the end or the beginning of outgoing SMTP messages. One common use of a message disclaimer is to display legal information about the company and/or a particular department in the company. You can enable or disable a message disclaimer from the Domino server or the Notes client. Using a combination of policies and policy settings, you can set different message disclaimers for various groups of executives.
When you enable message disclaimers in the server Configuration Settings document (see figure 14), the router task adds the disclaimer text defined in the policy document. You can also enable the "Add disclaimer to S/MIME signed or encrypted messages" option. The default setting is Disabled.
Because the Message Disclaimers feature is designed for outbound Internet messages, whenever possible, use the Notes client to add disclaimers instead of adding them from the server. Issues with signed and encrypted messages do not apply to messages added from the client because the disclaimer is added before the message is signed or encrypted. Issues with character sets do not apply to messages added by the client because the Notes client determines the Internet character set used for outgoing messages. Adding disclaimers at the Notes client avoids any potential performance problems or bottlenecks at the router and reduces overhead on the server.
Figure 14. Messaging Disclaimers subtab on the Configuration Settings document
You can enable message disclaimers on the Notes client using a Mail Settings policy. Start the process by editing the five fields of the Message Disclaimers tab (see figure 15):
- "Notes client can add disclaimers" can be enabled or disabled.
- Disclaimer text is the actual value of the text, for example, "This is not to be shared outside Acme Corporation." Use the Modify button to edit this text field.
- Disclaimer text format can be HTML or Plain Text.
- Disclaimer position is either Append (add disclaimer after body of email message) or Prepend (add disclaimer before body).
- Multilingual Internet mail can be Use Best Match or Use Unicode (UTF-8).
Figure 15. Messaging Disclaimers of the Mail Settings Policy document
The Comments and Administration tabs
The last two tabs (Comments and Administration) on the Mail Settings policy are common to all policy documents, and the fields contained therein are self-explanatory.
Mail Settings policy naming conventions
It is important to develop a naming standard for your Mail Settings policy to eliminate confusion and simplify administration. The names should reflect something meaningful. For example, if you want to apply your settings geographically, then you should consider a standard that mirrors the geography, such as Southeast Mail Settings or Northwest Mail Settings. You can also set up naming by organization, for example, Executive Marketing Mail Settings or Accounting Mail Settings, or you can combine organization and geography, for instance, Southeast Marketing Settings. Another possibility is to describe the specific function of the policy, for example, Southeast Sales Message Disclaimer or Corporate HQ Rooms and Resources Settings.
AdminP and mail policies
AdminP applies the Mail Setting policy to all user mail files on a specific server. The administration process runs every 12 hours by default, so changes do not take effect until the next time AdminP executes. If you have access, you can force AdminP to process new information in the Mail Settings policy by using the command "Tell AdminP process mailpolicy."
According to Thoreau, one of the ways to achieve a happy life is to "Simplify, simplify." With the introduction of the Mail Settings policy, this becomes a real possibility. This powerful new feature enables you to centrally manage and control the highly visible calendar and scheduling feature of the Notes client and enables you to control and manage various email settings for your executives. Consider the advantages the Mail Settings policy can provide:
- Simpler and less-frequent troubleshooting
- Fewer help desk calls
- Productivity increases because users can concentrate on their jobs rather than managing their calendars
- Lower total-cost-of-ownership
- More time spent on higher-level tasks
Mail Settings policy represents a significant extension to policy-based system administration introduced in Lotus Notes and Domino 6. It provides an efficient and flexible way to manage an enterprise, group of users, or an individual user down to the field level, while making for happy executives.
- developerWorks Lotus article, "New Features in Lotus Domino 7"
- developerWorks Lotus article, "New features in Lotus Notes 7 mail"
- developerWorks Lotus article, "Rooms and Resources design in Lotus Notes/Domino 7"
- developerWorks Lotus tip, "Using message disclaimers in Lotus Notes/Domino 7"
- developerWorks Lotus article, "Policy Based System Administration with Domino 6"
- IBM Redpaper, "Notes & Domino 7 Enterprise Upgrade Best Practices"
- Download a trial version of Lotus Notes 7 from developerWorks.
- Download a trial version of Lotus Domino 7 from developerWorks.