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Last updated: 27 Dec 2019

finder-frontend: Finder email alerts

Users can subscribe to email alerts on finders. This document explains how that works, and how to add or update email alerts on a finder.

Transparency email alerts

How does it work?

When a user clicks 'Get email alerts', they will be taken to a URL handled by email_alert_subscriptions_controller. At this stage we decide which Email Alert API subscriber list the user will be subscribed to.

Sometimes a user will be shown an empty page with only a 'Create subscription' button. In this case, the subscriber list will be determined from the filters that a user used on the finder.

If a user had filtered their search on the Transparency and freedom of information releases finder, this would affect the alerts that they would receive.

For example if the user filters by Topic: Defence and armed forces, and Document Type: FOI release, and Organisation: Ministry of Defence, then the 'Get email alerts' link on the finder would look like this:


If you clicked that link you would be taken to this page:

Transparency email signup

This page has a content item with a format of finder_email_signup. You can view this content item here.

Within the details of this content item, there is a filter, which contains filters that will always be used for subscriptions. In this case a user will always be subscribed to alerts on documents that have a content_purpose_supergroup of transparency.

There is also an email_filter_facets array, that specifies the filters that can be used on the subscriber list. For example, a user can filter their subscription so that they only subscribe to documents with particular world_locations, organisations, or people.

When you click 'Create subscription', behind the scenes a subscriber list is found that matches those query parameters. If no matching subscriber list is found then one is created.

In this case a subscriber list with the topic_id of transparency-and-freedom-of-information-with-1-document-type-organisation-of-ministry-of-defence-and-topic-of-defence-and-armed-forces

From this point, the subscriber list has been created and the user journey is handled by Email Alert Frontend.

Email alerting is handled by Email Alert API and Email Alert Service. You can read more about how email notifications works here.

It is also possible for choices to be provided to the end user on the 'create subscription' page:

In this case, the user can modify the filters that they applied on the finder, to change what they will be subscribed to.

How do I add or update a finder email alert signup?

The finder_email_signup content items are published by Search API.

To change the content of the page, you can update the content item in that application, and then republish it.

To change the filters that a user can subscribe to, you also need to change the content item.

For example, if you wanted to permit users to subscribe to documents published in a particular city, you might add the following to email_filter_facets:

  "facet_id": "city",
  "facet_name": "city"

How do I use selected search filters as email filter facets?

If you would like to skip the email filter checkboxes and use the selected search filters as email filters, set the value of email_filter to all_selected_facets.

Note: This is solution is in place until user email signup journeys are made consistent across all finders.

You might also need to permit users to subscribe to this kind of tag. In this case, you would need to add city to the list of allowed tags in Email Alert API.

It's important to test that an email alert signup works, otherwise users won't receive emails. You can validate this by manually testing against the Email Alert Api or by adding a new end-to-end test for your subscriber list to publishing-e2e-tests.