What are actions?

Actions are the counterparts to events, and allow for something to happen when an event is fired. As a developer, you may be used to calling these Event Listeners.

Examples of actions are normally things sending an email, adding a task to a task manager like Asana or giving a permission on Azure AD. With the portal, a user can bind one of these actions to any event to automate tasks. For example, we could automatically send an email to someone who submits a form through the portal.

Individual modules may also provide actions for the rest of the portal to use. For example, a file upload module may register an action 'Upload a File'. This would take a file URL and module instance/activity instance and upload the file. This would be very useful if you wanted a user to attach a file to a form but also wanted the file to be held separately. The 'Upload a File' action could be bound to a 'Form Submitted' event, get the file URL and upload it!

Packages may also just include actions if they want. We have a few integration packages that don’t supply a module, but rather integrations such as actions for a given third party.

How to build an action

An action is simply a class that extends the Action class: \BristolSU\Support\Action\Contracts\Action.

Accepting Settings

To make actions as useful as possible, they may accept any number of settings. In the above examples, such as uploading a file, settings would be a file URL, module instance id and activity instance id. For uploading a task to Asana, settings may be a Connection ID, the task contents and a due date. For sending an email, you’d have an email address, subject line and content field.

To ask for settings, you need to use the options function to return a FormSchema.

public static function options(): FormSchema\Schema\Form
    return \FormSchema\Generator\Form::make()

Executing the Action

When an action is to be executed, the run method will be called. In this method, you may do anything you want to execute the action. In our email example, this would be sending an email using the Laravel framework.

To access settings you asked for in the 'options' function, we use the option function. This takes a key, such as 'email_address', and a default for if the value is not given.

Returning a Response

It’s useful to keep a log of all actions, as well as alerting users when actions have failed. To do this, all we need to do is return a specific kind of response.

Successful Response

If the action succeeded, and we sent the email, we return a success response. We can do this using the \BristolSU\Support\Action\ActionResponse class.

return \BristolSU\Support\Action\ActionResponse::success(sprintf('The email was sent successfully to %s.', $this->option('email_address'))

When an action returns a success response, a user can see all the event fields, the settings available to the action and the message in the success response. This allows for debugging of actions by users of the portal.

Failed Response

When an action fails, there are several ways we can log this information

Throwing an Exception

If the run method throws an exception, we will automatically log the failed response using the exception message as the log message. This allows you to use cleaner code in your method whilst still making use of the logging framework.

Returning a Failed Response

As you’d expect, the success method has a failed counterpart. Return this from the run method to let the action handler know that the action has failed.

return \BristolSU\Support\Action\ActionResponse::failure(sprintf('The email could not be sent to %s.', $this->option('email_address'))

Registering an Action

Having created an action, it needs to be registered into the portal so users can use it. To do this, you need to register it in the boot function of a service provider.

If you are creating a module, your service provider will extend \BristolSU\Support\Module\ModuleServiceProvider. In this case, you can use the method registerAction to register any number of actions in your boot.

public function boot()
        \MyName\Space\MyAction::class, (1)
        'My Action Name' (2)
        'A longer description for my action' (3)
1 The fully qualified class name of your action.
2 A name for your action
3 A description for your action

If you aren’t creating a module, you can still register your action with the portal. You need to use the action manager directly.

public function boot()
        'My Action Name'
        'A longer description for my action'