Post Notifications

Push Notifications Don’t Work?

Alright, I’ve been getting asked about notifications when a new post is made to a watched topic. This is something that phpBB did not do unless you paid for the Tapatalk app on your phone. This feature would be easy for the developers of Discourse to implement, and they do so if you have paid hosting through them.

While I completely understand their need to make a profit off of an otherwise free product that requires a lot of support, this means that they have no intention of providing push notifications without charging customers money and even then, they have explicitly stated that this is a low priority and I don’t expect them to implement it.

Now, on Safari running on my Mac, it does ask me if I want to let notifications from the board go to my notification center, so it may support Chrome or Firefox notifications, I don’t know (I don’t run either).

Solutions?

There are a few. One is to use a service like Zapier or IFTTT to take some input, usually email, and use it to broadcast out an notification on some channel. I find this to be complicated to set up, but it can be more versitile. For instance, this would work exceptionally well if you have the forum sending notices to your GMail or Office 365 accounts as IFTTT will work directly with them. There is an “EMail” trigger on IFTTT but I found this to be even more complicated to set up.

Myself? I’m going to stick with what I know, that is the service of PushOver, it is not free. There is a service PushBullet which is free but requires more work to configure it and I wouldn’t count on it working forever.

PushOver

PushOver has an app for iOS and Android, where notifications are received. The app is a flat fee of $2.99 per service (that is to say iOS is $2.99 and Android is $2.99 and having iOS does not mean you also have Android), there are unsupported clients as well (3rd Party) for Windows, Linux, and Mac but they also cost money.

In this case, however, one you have the app ready to go, you go to the web site, login, and create an E-Mail Alias, and then you can have your email service just directly bounce emails that way via filters or you can have all email from the site go to that address, I do not recommend this option.

Zapier

Zapier is a service similar to IFTTT, to be fair we cannot use IFTTT for any email because it requires that when it receives an email it checks the FROM address and that’s how it decides what account it needs to check triggers for.

Zapier, uses a model similar to what PushOver does. In this case, Zapier gives you a unique address @zapier.com, and doesn’t care where the email is from, and thus will work for our purposes. To be fair, they also have GMail options and an IMAP option which I have not tried, which may also work.

Why not IFTTT?

Example, with IFTTT, everyone sends emails to trigger@applet.ifttt.com and only one FROM address can be registered to ONE account. All emails from the Forum look like they are from "webmaster@blazingumbra.com", and so unless that is changed IFTTT won’t work for their EMail trigger (this is not the case with the GMail trigger, which actually looks into your mailbox and uses a GMail filter string).

Getting your Notification!

As I said, I use PushOver, but I also use PushBullet. PushBullet is free (as is Zapier) and works with Zapier, so thus for the free user this might be the way to go. Downside to PushBullet is it is bloated (in my opinion) as it has messaging options between devices and some other stuff.

Connect Zapier to your PushBullet account, and you’re ready to go. Simply put the fields where you want them (in this case I had it put the subject in as the title and then made the body, well, the body adding text that it was received via email from the sender. This part is up to you.

Forwarding Mail

This is really up to your ISP, if you’re using our own email service (@blazingumbra.com) then you login to webmail and under “Settings”, choose “Filters”, then create a group of filters in the middle column, only one group can be active at a time, though it looks like you could have many active at a time, that is not the case). Once you have a filter group (or use the default one), you can add filters in the 3rd column, and you can have as many filters as you’d like there.

It is important to give a distinction between filters in your email client and filters on the mail server. Most email clients have filters too but depending on your service, most of those filters will only run after the mail is picked up by your client and thus your client must be online to handle them. Server-side filters are usually configured via the webmail application for your service. In our case it is at https://webmail.blazingumbra.com, consult your service provider’s web site for where to go for theirs.

Conclusion

I know that this is less than ideal, and I’m working on a way to allow people to directly get PushOver notifications for emails by giving the forum their pushover API key and Application key (similar for PushBullet). I’m also going to suggest this on the Discourse support site, though I doubt they will take it up as this could impact their revenue stream.

P.S.

Email notifications, by default, will not be sent out if one is viewing the forum as it will send a notification to that browser. There is an option to turn this behavior off in the user preferences.