Create external actions

You can create external actions and embed them in the ALM Octane UI. External actions can launch external websites or applications that interact with ALM Octane.

Note: External actions is available as a technical preview.

Overview

You can create two types of external actions: Custom toolbar buttons and sidebar plugins.

The current topic provides information that applies to both types of external actions. For specific sidebar plugin guidelines, see Create sidebar plugins.

Note: Work with external actions requires relevant permissions. For details, see Roles and permissions.

Custom toolbar button overview

You can create a custom action that will be added to the toolbar of an entity in ALM Octane. The button can be added either to the grid view, to operate on a single or multiple items, or to the details view, to operate on a single item.

Example:

In this case, we added a custom action labeled General Details to the defects grid toolbar. When clicked, the action opens an external website that lists the defects selected in the grid.

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Steps for creating an external action

An external action consists of two parts: A JSON configuration object and the code.

JSON configuration object

The action's configuration is defined by a JSON object. The object describes the external action's properties, such as the entity type that the external action operates on, and the icon that represents the action in the UI. Some properties are relevant to custom toolbar buttons and sidebar plugins, while some properties are relevant to only one of the external action types.

The JSON structure also specifies the entities and fields that the external action will operate on.

For details, see Define the external action in ALM Octane.

The external action code

  • In the case of a custom button, the external action may open the item on another tool or launch an organizational website.

    In the case of a sidebar plugin, the external action will embed a web page in designated ALM Octane sidebars.

  • You can upload the code to ALM Octane, or host it on an external server.

  • To interact with data from ALM Octane, the code can include REST API requests. For details, see The REST API.

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Define the external action in ALM Octane

You add external actions by configuring a JSON file in the External Action editor.

To define an external action:

  1. Log in to ALM Octane as a Shared Space admin.
  2. From the main ALM Octane user area, select Settings > Management > External action editor.

    The editor allows you to write or paste JSON code that represents the custom buttons or sidebar plugins that you are adding to ALM Octane.

    Tip: Click Load Demo, to load JSON code with examples of various configuration options for the external actions.

    The JSON file can include code for one or more external actions.

  3. For details on the JSON properties, see JSON structure.

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JSON structure

Following are JSON samples for a custom button and a sidebar plugin. The properties are described in the table below.

Custom action properties

Include the following properties in the action definition: 

Property Description
name Unique action or tab name, used for identification in logs and errors.
mode

For sidebars only, optional: Includes two properties:

  • name: "side_panel" or "dialog"

  • modules: The modules in which to show the sidebar plugin. Available modules are: defects, vulnerabilities, requirements, model_based_testing, backlog, team_backlog, quality, pipelines, releases, milestones, processes, my_work_entityType

title

For toolbars where the icon and label are displayed, this value will be used as the button label.

For toolbars where only the icon is displayed, this value will be used as the button tooltip.

For sidebar plugins, this value will be used as the sidebar name.

entity_type

List of entity types to which the external action will be applied.

The entity type names are same as in the REST API. For example: defect, test, release

You can use also aggregated types, such as work_item. The action will be applied to all subtypes of the aggregated type. For example: Define the type work_item to apply the action to user stories, defects.

views

The view types in which the action or sidebar should be displayed.

Allowed values for custom buttons: list, details

Allowed values for sidebar plugins: list

icon The icon to be displayed for the button or sidebar. See the list of possible Icons.
single_entity

Use one of the following values:

  • true. To determine that the action will be enabled only when a single item is selected in the grid and disabled when multiple items are selected.

  • false. To determine that the action will be enabled both when a single or multiple items are selected.

  • null. To determine that the action will be enabled regardless of the selection, including when nothing is selected.

dialog

For custom buttons only: By default, the referenced website or application opens in a new tab.

To embed an application inside an ALM Octane dialog box, rather than a new tab, define the dialog property.

Allowed values: small, medium, large

Caution: Embedding an action can pose security risks for ALM Octane users if the embedded application is not properly secured.

If dialog is defined, the url property (see below) needs to contain the source of an iframe that will open inside the dialog box.

The embedded application can trigger events that control its dialog box, via "messages". A message will be handled by ALM Octane only if the values of workspace, shared_space and dialog_id are identical to those that were provided to the embedded application. Any other values will cause the message to be ignored.

For message examples, see Create external actions.

url

Custom button: The URL or URI to be activated when a user interacts with the custom button.

Sidebar or dialog box: The source of the iframe.

Provide one of the following:

  • A website, using either the https: or http: protocol.
  • For custom buttons only: A protocol handler URI, such as mailto: or any custom application that has a registered protocol handler on the user's machine.

    By default, URI is restricted to common web-based protocols such as https and mailto. To allow additional protocols, update the ENTITY_EXTERNAL_ACTIONS_SUPPORTED_PROTOCOLS site parameter. For details, see Configuration parameters.

In addition to the URL or URI of the target application, you can also include tokens. Tokens represent information regarding the selected entities. During runtime, ALM Octane replaces the tokens with the actual values and transfers them to the target application.

The following example demonstrates the usage of tokens that you can include in the url property:

https://server.domain.com/some-application?entity_ids={entity_ids}&foo_bar={entity.foo_udf}&entity_type={entity_type}&shared_space={shared_space}&workspace={workspace}&user_login={user_login}&email={user_email}&action=defect-details

You can include part or all of the supported tokens in the URL. It is best to include only the tokens that are required by the invoked application.

In addition, you can add other query parameters to the URL to send additional information to the target application. In the example above, we added action=defect-details as a query parameter. It allows the target application to recognize the custom action that was activated.

For a list of the supported URL parameters, see Supported URL tokens.

events

Optional. Indicate whether the action supports receiving events back from the target web application.

Allowed values: true / false

Default: false. This functionality poses a potential security risk.

For a list of supported events and code examples, see Supported events.

workspaces

Optional. When present, designates the workspaces to which the action applies.

Syntax: Number array of workspace IDs. Example: "workspaces": [1002, 1004]

Note: workspaces can be supplied only if exclude_workspaces is not supplied.

exclude_workspaces

Optional. When present, designates the workspaces to which the action does not apply.

Syntax: Number array of workspace IDs. Example: "exclude_workspaces": [1002, 1004]

Note: exclude_workspaces can be supplied only if workspaces is not supplied.

modules For sidebars only: The modules in which to show the sidebar plugin. For a list of the available modules, see the mode row above.

Supported URL tokens

You can include the following tokens in the URL property:

Parameter Details
{bundle_url}

When uploading the external action bundle as a zip, use this token as a replacement for the ALM Octane URL.

"url": "{bundle_url}/my_folder/index.html?entity_ids={entity_ids}&entity_type={entity_type}&shared_space={shared_space}&workspace={workspace}&user_login={user_login}&email={user_email}&octane_url={octane_url}&dialog_id={dialog_id}"

Where my_folder is the folder located under the root of the zip file uploaded as the external actions bundle.

For more details, see Host external actions in ALM Octane.

{entity.foo_field}

Any of the entity's fields (including UDF) of type String or Number.

Relevant only if single_entity=true.

By including a field in the action's URL, you can navigate to specific items in external systems. For example, if you store in a UDF the ID of a ticket from an external system, you can use an external action to compose a URL to that ticketing system and include the ticket ID in the URL.

Or if you synchronize entities from ALM to ALM Octane, and the ALM IDs are stored in a UDF, you can compose an external action that uses the ALM TD:// protocol in the URL to open the item directly in ALM.

External actions that include fields will work on single entities only.

{entity_ids} Comma delimited list of IDs of the entity or entities selected by the user.
{entity_type} Aggregated type of the selected entity. For example, for a defect, this will be replaced with work_item.
{octane_url}

URL of the ALM Octane site from which the external action is invoked.

{panel_id}

In case of an action embedded in a dialog box or a panel, this value is required to post messages from the action back to ALM Octane. For more details, see Create external actions.

{shared_space} ID of space in which the action was triggered.
{user_email} Email address of user as recorded in ALM Octane.
{user_login} Login name with which the user connected to ALM Octane.
{workspace}

ID of workspace in which the action was triggered.

{xsrf_token}

Use this token in the following scenarios:

  • If you are hosting the external action on another domain and are planning to use CORS to communicate with ALM Octane server. For more details, see Use CORS for external actions.

  • If you are hosting the external action in ALM Octane and are making PUT, POST, or DELETE REST requests, you will need to pass this token value back to ALM Octane.

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Supported events

You can send the following ALM Octane events from the web application to the action:

Event Description
octane_refresh_entity

Instruct ALM Octane to refresh specified items after they have been updated in the external application.

octane_display_entity Instruct ALM Octane to display details of a specified item.
octane_entity_was_added

Notify ALM Octane that a new item was created. ALM Octane will display and take into account the new item where relevant, the same as it would had it been created inside ALM Octane.

For example, when adding a new defect, if the defects grid is displayed, the defect will be displayed at the top of the grid.

octane_refresh_list

Instruct ALM Octane to refresh the full grid after an update was made in the external application.

octane_select_entity Instruct ALM Octane to select specified entities in the grid.
octane_set_dialog_title If the external action opens a dialog box, use this event to set the dialog box's title.
octane_close_dialog

If the external action opens a dialog box, use this event to close the dialog box.

octane_read_settings Query ALM Octane for the current user's settings for the application or a specified module. The results are returned in JSON format.
octane_update_settings Add a new value to the ALM Octane settings. The value will be stored in the "text" key.
octane_report_error Instructs ALM Octane to add an entry to its errors log.

Implementation notes

  • The code should be implemented in the target web application.
  • For actions opened in a new browser tab, messages should be posted using window.opener.
  • For actions embedded inside an ALM Octane dialog box, messages should be posted using window.parent.
  • If the code fails on "opener undefined", check that the action is configured with "events": true.
  • If a refresh event or a message is sent for an entity that is currently being edited by the user and has changes unsaved to the server, the UI will not refresh to prevent data loss.

Code examples

The following examples assume that params holds parameters that were sent to the external application via the url parameter.

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Icons

Choose an icon from the list below to use for the custom button or sidebar.

Tip: To view in full detail, click to zoom in, then right-click the image and open in a new tab.

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Use CORS for external actions

If your external actions are hosted on a domain other than ALM Octane, you can establish trust by either using an API key in the code, or using the CORS mechanism.

This section discusses using the CORS mechanism for external actions.

The CORS mechanism for external ALM Octane actions involves the following:

  • Set CORS configuration parameters.
  • Send an anti-CSRF cookie in requests.

To enable CORS actions:

  1. Make sure the following CORS parameters are enabled and configured: CORS_ENABLED, CORS_ALLOW_ORIGIN, CORS_AUTH_ALLOW_ORIGIN, CORS_MAX_AGE
  2. Set the following site parameter:

    Parameter Value
    SAME_SITE_COOKIE_ATTRIBUTE None

    For details on working with parameters, see Configuration parameters.

To send an XSRF cookie in requests:

To prevent non-authorized servers from accessing the ALM Octane server, requests from external servers need to include an XSRF header that sends a unique cookie.

Following is a sample code snippet for an XSRF header:

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const xsrf = new URL(document.location.href).searchParams.get('xsrf_token')

await fetch(url, {
    headers: {
        "XSRF-HEADER": xsrf,
        "content-type": "application/json",
    },
    method: "PUT",
    ...
});

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Host external actions in ALM Octane

As an alternative to storing external action code on an external server and establishing trust with ALM Octane, you can upload the external action code to ALM Octane.

You can upload all the external actions in the same zip file, or upload each external action in a separate file.

With bundled files, the different external actions can also use shared code. For example, if you have external actions foo and bar that reference shared code common, structure the folders as follows:

Prerequisites

  • Make sure that the parameter SUPPORT_EXTERNAL_ENTITY_ACTIONS_BUNDLE is enabled.
  • Configure the other external action parameters as required: EXTERNAL_ENTITY_ACTIONS_BUNDLE_MAX_SIZE, EXTERNAL_ENTITY_ACTIONS_FILE_EXTENSION_WHITE_LIST

For details on working with parameters, see Configuration parameters.

To upload external actions to ALM Octane:

  1. Define the action in the external action editor, using the JSON syntax. For details, see Define the external action in ALM Octane.

  2. Click Upload Bundle.

    In the Select Action dropdown list, select the name of the action whose code you want to upload, or select Common to upload a bundled file.

    Note: To replace a bundled zip that contains multiple actions, select Common.

  3. Locate the zip file and upload it.

    ALM Octane creates an internal guid for the action and adds the guid to the external action definition in the JSON.

  1. In the external action editor, update the "url" property to point to the uploaded file, as follows:

    • Actions in individual files:

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      "url": {bundle_url}/api/sharedspaces/1001/external_actions/<action_name>/bundle/foo.html
    • Actions in bundled files: 

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      "url": {bundle_url}/api/sharedspaces/1001/external_actions/bundle/foo.html

    {bundle_url} is a token denoting ALM Octane's server address.

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REST API for external actions

The following examples demonstrate GET and PUT scripts for reading and updating external actions.

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See also: