What's New in 4: Options and Preferences

RT 4 adds many options you can put in your etc/RT_SiteConfig.pm totweak the way your RT looks and behaves for your users, as well as how RT works behind the scenes. Some of the new options are also available as individual user preferences by going to the Logged in as … → Settings → Options page.

In this blog post, we'll provide an overview of most of the new options.

$AutocompleteOwners and $UserAutocompleteFields

These options are discussed in our blog post on autocompletion.

$DisplayTicketAfterQuickCreate(user pref)

Enable this to redirect to the created ticket display page automatically when using QuickCreate.

$MoreAboutRequestorExtraInfo, $MoreAboutRequestorGroupsLimit, and $MoreAboutRequestorTicketList

These options affect the "More about requestors" box on the ticket display page and will be discussed in a separate upcoming blog post about customizing the displayed requestor information. (If you're eager to customize this, read the sections in etc/RT_Config.pm.)

$ShowMoreAboutPrivilegedUsers

This determines if the "More about requestors" box on the ticket display page shows information about privileged users. By default it only shows information about unprivileged users.

$OnlySearchActiveTicketsInSimpleSearch

By default, the simple search in the upper right corner only searches active tickets. If you want to search for a specific status, you can include the status in your search. If you want to search all ticekts regardless of status, disable this option.

$SearchResultsAutoRedirect

When only one ticket is found in search, use this to redirect to the ticket display page automatically. Disabled by default.

$SimplifiedRecipients(user pref)

Display a simple list of who will receive any kind of mail on the ticket reply page, instead of a detailed breakdown by scrip. Disabled by default.

Screenshot: RT, with SimplifiedRecipients option enabled

$RememberDefaultQueue(user pref)

Remembers the last queue you created a ticket in using the "New ticket in" button and queue list at the top of the page. If you haven't created a ticket in your current session, the Default Queue preference is used. Disabled by default.

$DeferTransactionLoading(user pref)

When set to 1, the ticket display page will omit the ticket history until a link is clicked to load and display the history. This can be useful if you routinely browse long-running tickets but don't need to always read the history. Disabled by default.

Screenshot: RT, with DeferTransactionLoading option enabled

$UseSideBySideLayout(user pref)

Display the ticket create and update pages using two columns on screens that are wide enough. The new two column pages are much more effective at making more information visible on a single page, especially with many custom fields. Enabled by default.

$ArticleOnTicketCreate

Enable this option to display the Articles search and selection interface on the Ticket Create page in addition to the Reply/Comment page.

$HideArticleSearchOnReplyCreate

Enable this option to hide the search and include boxes from the Article UI. This assumes you have enabled the Article Hotlist feature on at least one of your Classes, otherwise you will have no access to Articles. This option does not hide the Articles link in the Tools menu.

%FullTextSearch

The available flags under %FullTextSearch are discussed in our blog post on fast full-text searching in RT.

%Lifecycles

Lifecycles are a powerful way to describe custom workflows for your tickets on a per-queue basis. We'll be covering them in depth in an upcoming blog post. If you're feeling adventurous and would like to dive in early, there is a decent amount of documentation in the Lifecycles section of perldoc etc/RT_Config.pm.

@CSSFiles

Files in this list will be included in the CSS (squished and unsquished) that RT serves. Recommended if you want local CSS changes that apply to all themes. Alternatively, you can use the advanced section of the Theme editor if you don't need a file on disk.

$Framebusting

If set to 0, framekiller javascript will be disabled and the X-Frame-Options: DENY header will be suppressed from all responses. This disables RT's clickjacking protection. It is highly recommended you leave this option set to 1 unless you are embedding RT in an iframe from a different domain.

Removed options

A handful of options were removed in 4.0, because they were made obsolete by new features or we added a better way to change the behaviour. The most used options that are unsupported in 4.0:

  • @ActiveStatus
  • @InactiveStatus
  • $ResolveDefaultUpdateType
  • $SuppressAutoOpenOnUpdate

The first three of these options affect what is now controlled by lifecycles. By defining your own lifecycle or modifying the default, you can reapply the functionality. The last option, $SuppressAutoOpenOnUpdate, can be customized by modifying the stock scrip On Correspond Open Tickets that ships with RT.

Setting options

All the options RT supports are documented in etc/RT_SiteConfig.pm, along with their defaults. To set any of them to a different value for your installation, add the appropriate Set( $OptionName, 'value' ); line to your etc/RT_SiteConfig.pm, clear the mason cache, and restart your webserver. Be sure to only have one Set(...) line for each option, otherwise only the first one will take affect.

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What's New in 4: Fast full-text searching

RT is commonly used to manage a lot of data. Unfortunately, prior toRT 4, it didn't support effective indexing of the content of comments or correspondence. RT 4 makes use of the full-text indexing capabilities of PostgreSQL and Oracle, or the external Sphinx library for MySQL, to efficiently index this content, allowing for high-speed searching of textual content. Due to bugs in version 4.0.0, you'll need version 4.0.1 or higher to take advantage of the full-text indexing detailed below.

By default, with no full-text indexes enabled, RT 4 does not allow searching of the "Content" field at all, owing to how resource-intensive unindexed full-text searches are. If you wish to enable non-indexed full-text searching, like previous versions of RT allowed, you will need to add the following to your RT_SiteConfig.pm:

Set(%FullTextSearch,
Enable  => 1,
Indexed => 0,
);

The real magic comes from enabling your database's full-text indexes, however. For the section below, we'll be showing the configuration for PostgreSQL; we'll briefly address MySQL, which is slightly more complicated, at the end of this post.

If you intend to enable full-text indexed searches, you should also read the docs/full_text_indexing.pod file which shipped with your RT install, which will provide roughly the same information as below, but is additionally guaranteed to be up-to-date with your version of RT.

PostgreSQL configuration

To start off with, you'll need to configure your database to store the index. On PostgreSQL, this consists of adding a new column and creating an index on it. To do this, run rt-setup-fulltext-index:

$ /opt/rt4/sbin/rt-setup-fulltext-index
Enter the name of a DB table that will be used to store the Pg tsvector.
You may either use the existing Attachments table, or create a new
table.
[Attachments]:
Enter the name of a column that will be used to store the Pg tsvector:
[ContentIndex]:

Generally, you'll want to store the new column in the Attachments table, right next to the data it is indexing. If you want to back up the index separately, or have other storage constraints, you may wish to create a new table to store it, but the default is almost certainly correct. Similarly, the default column name is also most likely correct.

You may choose between GiST or GIN indexes; the former is several times
slower to search, but takes less space on disk and is faster to update.
[GiST]:

You can read more about the differences between the index types in the PostgreSQL manual.

Going to run the following in the DB:
ALTER TABLE Attachments ADD COLUMN ContentIndex tsvector
Going to run the following in the DB:
CREATE INDEX ContentIndex_idx ON Attachments USING gist(ContentIndex)
You can now configure RT to use the newly-created full-text index by
adding the following to your RT_SiteConfig.pm:
Set( %FullTextSearch,
Enable     => 1,
Indexed    => 1,
Column     => 'ContentIndex',
Table      => 'Attachments',
);

At this point, your database has been configured. Ensure that you add the Set(...) block that rt-setup-fulltext-index output (which may be different from the above!) to your RT_SiteConfig.pm before continuing.

Your index now exists, but is empty. In order to fill it, we must find and index every textual attachment in RT using rt-fulltext-indexer --all. This can be a very time-consuming task, so be prepared for it to take a while. It can be interrupted and resumed safely, however.

Once it has finished, you will need to schedule rt-fulltext-indexer to run at regular intervals to pick up new additions to the database. This is easiest done by running ln -s /opt/rt4/sbin/rt-fulltext-indexer /etc/cron.hourly, which will ensure that it runs once an hour, but many other alternatives are possible. Depending on how fast tickets are created in your system, running it as frequently as once every two to five minutes may be possible.

MySQL configuration

The story on MySQL is unfortunately considerably more complicated, as MySQL does not natively support a full-text index format. It integrates with the external Sphinx search library, but this requires recompiling MySQL to include the SphinxSE engine which allows MySQL queries to retrieve data from the Sphinx searchd indexer. While many vendors package the external Sphinx tools, none of them ships a MySQL package which has been compiled with SphinxSE at the time of writing. As such, this is most likely not for the faint of heart, or those only just getting their feet wet with system administration.

Despite that, the process of recompiling MySQL with SphinxSE is fairly straightforward. Full instructions are provided in the Sphinx documentation. Sphinx 2.0.1 has been tested to work with both MySQL 5.0 and 5.1; it is not compatible with MySQL 5.5 at this time.

Once a SphinxSE-enabled MySQL has been installed, the configuration proceeds roughly as for PostgreSQL, above. First, you must run rt-setup-fulltext-index, which will ensure that your MySQL is correctly configured with SphinxSE, then prompt you for additional information:

$ /opt/rt4/sbin/rt-setup-fulltext-index
Enter name of a new MySQL table that will be used to connect to the
Sphinx server:
[AttachmentsIndex]:
Enter URL of the sphinx search server; this should be of the form
sphinx://<server>:<port>/<index name>
[sphinx://localhost:3312/rt]:

In order to communicate with the Sphinx searchd server, we create a virtual SphinxSE table in the database. This table hence needs to know where your Sphinx searchd server is running. The default is usually correct if you are planning to run searchd on your database server on the default port.

Maximum number of matches to return; this is the maximum number of
attachment records returned by the search, not the maximum number
of tickets.  Both your RT_SiteConfig.pm and your sphinx.conf must
agree on this value.  Larger values cause your Sphinx server to
consume more memory and CPU time per query.
[10000]:

This is an unfortunate limitation imposed by the design of Sphinx; 10000 should be sufficient for most purposes, but you may need to increment this number if you have tickets with an extremely large number of transactions which match your common search criteria. If you wish to change this number later, you must alter it in both RT_SiteConfig.pm and sphinx.conf files.

Going to run the following in the DB:
CREATE TABLE AttachmentsIndex (
id     INTEGER UNSIGNED NOT NULL,
weight INTEGER NOT NULL,
query  VARCHAR(3072) NOT NULL,
INDEX(query)
) ENGINE=SPHINX CONNECTION="sphinx://localhost:3312/rt" CHARACTER SET utf8
You can now configure RT to use the newly-created full-text index by
adding the following to your RT_SiteConfig.pm:
Set( %FullTextSearch,
Enable     => 1,
Indexed    => 1,
Table      => 'AttachmentsIndex',
MaxMatches => '10000',
);

It will also output a sample sphinx.conf file. At this point, your database has been configured. Ensure that you add the Set(...) block that rt-setup-fulltext-index output (which may be different from the above!) to your RT_SiteConfig.pm before continuing.

Your index now exists, but is empty. In order to fill it, we must run the Sphinx indexer:

$ indexer rt
Sphinx 2.0.1-beta (r2792)
Copyright (c) 2001-2011, Andrew Aksyonoff
Copyright (c) 2008-2011, Sphinx Technologies Inc (http://sphinxsearch.com)
using config file '/etc/sphinx.conf'...
indexing index 'rt'...
collected 133809 docs, 1015.6 MB
sorted 137.2 Mhits, 100.0% done
total 133809 docs, 1015645236 bytes
total 144.967 sec, 7006036 bytes/sec, 923.02 docs/sec
total 400 reads, 6.474 sec, 637.6 kb/call avg, 16.1 msec/call avg
total 582 writes, 2.473 sec, 959.3 kb/call avg, 4.2 msec/call avg

Finally, you will need to start the searchd daemon:

$ searchd
Sphinx 2.0.1-beta (r2792)
Copyright (c) 2001-2011, Andrew Aksyonoff
Copyright (c) 2008-2011, Sphinx Technologies Inc (http://sphinxsearch.com)
using config file '/etc/sphinx.conf'...
listening on all interfaces, port=3312
precaching index 'rt'
precached 1 indexes in 0.033 sec

You will need to re-index the data using indexer --rotate rt at regular intervals. Since Sphinx does not do incremental indexing, but rather re-indexes all content each time it is run, a "main+delta" split of the data may be necessary to reduce index update time sufficiently to allow close to real-time indexing.

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What's New in 4: Streamlined quotes in correspondence

As a ticket grows long in the tooth, correspondence which quotes the entire history of the conversation can balloon to become extremely large and unwieldy. It can be taxing just to find the new content of incoming email amidst all its history.

RT 4.0 makes this more manageable by folding away quoted content during ticket display. This lets you focus on what's important: the new text. When you do need to see the quoted text, it's still there, hidden behind a click. Now when you look at a ticket, you won't have to mentally skim over quoted lines or paragraphs. Quote folding makes reading a ticket's correspondence and history far more comfortable.

Screenshot: ticket correspondence with quote folds closed

When you expand those folded-away quotes by clicking "Show folded text", you'll see that RT 4.0 now also colors nested quotes differently, so you can easily distinguish who wrote which text. The nesting level of each quote becomes more apparent when colored. Let RT count the angle brackets for you.

Screenshot: ticket correspondence with quote folds open

Our quote folding is robust enough to understand various quoting disciplines, whether it be top-posting, interleaved, or bottom-posting. You also don't have to stick with > to indicate quotations; RT recognizes many other kinds of quote markers.

HTML display

Along with quote folding, we've improved how RT 4 displays HTML content in ticket history. One way that a lot of people quote text is by coloring the original text or the new content in their response. To facilitate such quoting, RT 3.8.2 and later display colors specified in HTML mail. RT 4.0 improves our HTML mail handling further. RT 4 understands more ways that mail client generates text styling, especially Microsoft Outlook. We also permit more kinds of styling, such as font-family and font-size.

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What's New in 4: Editing rights just got easier

Screenshot: global group rights editor

We completely revamped the user and group rights editor for RT 4. The new editor features a number of usability improvements:

  • Only the users or user-defined groups with rights granted to them are shown. This means you don't see every privileged user in the system when you just want to change rights for one. It also makes the editing rights much faster for systems with large numbers of users or groups.
  • Each right has a description which helps you find the one you actually want. If you're used to the short right names like us, you can click on those too.
  • Rather than a tiny select box or one long list, the rights are now grouped into logical tabs based on the most common type of user you might grant them to. The tabs are just suggestions though, and there are bound to be times when you want, for example, Requestors to have a right normally reserved for your staff.
  • Any subgroups of a group are shown next to the group name when you're editing rights. This quickly shows who else will inherit the rights you add or remove.

Adding rights to a user or group

If the group already has rights granted to it, simply click on the group name, click the rights you want to add, and Save Changes.

If the group doesn't have existing rights, begin typing its name into the Add Group field, and a list of autocompleted options will pop up. Choose the group you're looking for and then click on the rights you want to add, saving changes when you're done.

Removing all rights from a user or group

Uncheck every right from the user/group and click Save Changes. You should see a number of Right Revoked status messages (one for each right previously granted), and the user/group shouldn't appear in the left hand list. If they still appear, then you likely missed a right and should check again.

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