Outlook for Android Breaks Email Approvals (+Solution)

If you’re an Android user who uses Outlook (and who among us corporate tools is not blighted by that app on a daily basis?) you may have noticed that the Outlook app for Android has recently undergone something of a redesign.
I haven’t decided if I love or hate the new design personally, but however you may feel about it, it seems that they’ve done a bit more than just change the aesthetic.

That’s right, despite the fact that it’s been an IETF standard since July 1998 (see: RFC 2368), Microsoft just plum-forgot about one of the most basic functions of an email application - correctly processing mailto: links - and have now verified that this is a confirmed “feature limitation”. They “might consider adding this feature” in future updates, but for now, well, who needs standards, anyway?

Now hold on, because I can hear you saying:
“But Tim, you big dumb jerk with great hair, this is a ServiceNow development blog! Surely ranting about Microsoft is a bit silly here, isn’t it?”
And normally, yes, this would be merely a petty rant - one of my favorite kinds of rants -but in this case, the implications of this are important for us ServiceNow nerds.

Thanks to Nick Simonelli (ServiceNow developer at Chipotle - lucky jerk) for bringing this to my attention in the ServiceNow Slack community!

By default, when an approval is sent out from ServiceNow, the “Click here to approve” and “Click here to reject” hyperlinks in that email, are simply mailto: links with subject and body parameters.

For example, the approve link in the screenshot on the right has the following href argument:


As you can see, this mailto: link makes use of the subject and body parameters, in order to generate an email such as the one below when the link is clicked.

One of the most common uses of this method of approving or rejecting a record, is to be able to do so while mobile.
However, with the latest update to the Microsoft Outlook, this will no longer work, because the Outlook app no longer parses subject or body arguments from mailto: links.

Fortunately, some time ago, I wrote a free tool which gets around this problem entirely: The “Better, One-Click Approval” tool!

If you’re already using this tool, then you won’t face this issue at all! If you’re not however, you can implement it rather simply (and like all of my tools, for free) by updating the templates for the relevant notifications on the sysapproval_approver and sysapproval_group tables, to the templates I’ve provided in the “with templates” version of the tool.

The “Better, One-Click Approval” tool can be found at this link, or by going to Tools > A Better, One-Click Approval from the navigation bar at the top of this site.