RT is used for a number of different purposes at FREE GEEK; see the page on RT for more information on that. Here, we'll discuss a few common functions that staff or volunteers might want to be familiar with.
Everything in RT is based on the ticket, which can be thought of as a task. Every ticket will be in a queue - this shows what sort of thing it is, or what it relates to. The TechSupport queue holds technical support requests, the HardwareGrants queue holds grant requests, the Technocrats queue holds things the Technocrats need to do, and the staff subcommittee queues hold tickets relating to the things those committees need to get done.
There are many characteristics a ticket can have, including an owner, a priority, a due date, and a status. Depending on which queue the ticket is being created in there can be additional characteristics relevant to the queue's working group.
- The owner is the person responsible for the ticket. (See Claiming a ticket, below.)
- The priority is often used to determine how pressing the task is. If the priority of a ticket is over 50, the group should bring it up at their meeting.
- The due date can help with prioritizing as well, though some people never use it.
- The status is important, because if it's not kept up to date, the todo list will never get any shorter. (See Closing a ticket, below.)
RT at a glance
When you log in on RT, you will come to your home page, titled "RT at a glance". This has several sections. The left has navigation stuff; you will usually just use Home (to get to this page) and Tickets (which will get you to a ticket search). That and the top are consistent throughout RT. The top has the tool that will let you make a new ticket (be sure to select the proper queue), and a search form.
The main body of the page can set up to show useful and relevant information in a number of ways. Exactly what appears will depend on what level of access you have to the RT system, but typically the default setup will include a list any tickets you have bookmarked, the 10 highest priority tickets you currently own, a list of the newest unowned tickets (not terribly useful to most), some fields for quickly creating a new ticket, and to the right you will see a list of any reminders you have set up and an overview of all the queues you have access to.
Creating a ticket
You can create a ticket from any page in RT by selecting the desired queue from the drop down next to the New ticket in button at the top right. If you have configured a default queue from your Preferences page you can also click on New ticket in itself to start a ticket in your default queue.
On the Create a new ticket page you will have a number of fields and drop-downs to fill.
- Requestors: Requestors are people who asking for the ticket to be acted upon and will be notified of replies to the ticket. You will be listed as a requestor by default, though this can be changed or additional requestors can be added, separated by commas.
- CC and Admin CC: Others who may be effected by the activities of the ticket, also will be notified of replies to the ticket.
- Subject: A brief description of the problem that needs to be addressed or the work being done.
- Status: Starting status of the ticket. This should be left as "New" in most cases.
- Owner: The person who is currently working on or needs to address the ticket.
Additional fields may be available depending on the queue, including mandatory fields that must be filled before the ticket can be created (noted in red).
Looking at queues
If you click on one of the queue headings on the right of your home page, you will see the list of all currently active tickets in that queue. Which queues appear in the list will depend on what you have been granted access to in the RT system. You will not be able to look at a queue or add to it unless you have permission to do so.
The headings in that list can be clicked on to sort by that category, so if you wanted to see which tickets in a queue belonged to you, you could click on Owner to see that, or you could click on Last Updated to see what has been languishing for months without any update. You can see more information about a ticket by clicking on its title.
Updating a ticket
When you're looking at a ticket, you can update it. You can change any of the important fields, like priority or even title, or you can make a comment on it (if, say, a phone call came in relating to an item, you could record that in a comment). You can also make a reply to the person who made the ticket, called the requestor. The reply might be a status update ("Ok, i did such-and-such. Check and see if that works for you.") or a request for more information ("I can only move forward on this if you give me the phone number for that person.") Communicating with a requestor that way makes a record, so you can see when you acted on it and so it doesn't look like the ticket is lying idle.
The reply and comment options are at the top of the page, under the search form. Each of the colored headings under that (The Basics, People, Dates) are links to pages where you can change those fields.
Claiming a ticket
If a ticket is currently unowned or has another owner, but you are able to address the issue, you can take ownership of the ticket yourself. If the ticket already has an owner, make sure they are not actively working on the issue before taking it from them.
When viewing a ticket in RT you can take ownership of it by clicking on Take (or Steal if it's already taken) near the top-right of the page.
Closing (Resolving) a ticket
Closing a ticket in RT is called "resolving" it. There are three ways to do this.
- Click on the "Resolve" link at the top of the ticket to give yourself a space to make a comment.
- Click on "Reply" to send a message to the requestor and change the status button to "Resolved".
- Click on "Basics" and change the status to Resolved.
Once the ticket is resolved, it no longer appears in the queue's list, but can be found by an appropriate search.
If you are not able to resolve a ticket in a queue for which you believe you should have that right, contact a member of the RT admin group.
Deleting a ticket is very different, and access to that function is only available to RT administrators. This is used only for tickets created by spam, or test messages.
Customising the homepage
The contents of "RT at a glance" can be customised using the Edit links attached to the various elements, and which elements are present can be configured on the "master" customisation page, accessible through the Edit link at the top-right of the white space containing all elements. On the customisation page the lists on the left indicate elements available to be added to your home page and the lists on the right indicate what is currently selected for display. The top set is for the larger frames appearing at the left on your home page, the bottom set for the smaller summary frames on the right. You can add an element by selecting it on the left and pressing the right arrow button. You can modify the order in which they appear on the home page by selecting an element you've added and using the up and down arrow buttons next to the list.
Saved searches can be created for when you will repeatedly need to view a set of tickets fitting a certain criteria. For example, if you are working in Tech Support you will likely be repeatedly viewing a list of all New or Open tickets in the TechSupport queue, but won't want Resolved tickets cluttering the list while you're trying to find what needs to be worked on.
When you're looking at a search results page (any list of tickets; clicking a queue title from the quick search list on your homepage is actually running a search for all tickets in that queue), you can click on Edit Search above the list of results to reach the Query Builder. With the Query Builder you can thoroughly tweak the conditions of your search, specifying a queue, status, ticket creator, and so on. More flexible searches can be created using the AND and OR aggregators, but setting them up can be a bit tricky and may require some patience and practice. Following the earlier example, if you wanted to view all Tech Support tickets that are either New or Open you would construct the following search:
Queue = 'TechSupport' AND ( Status = 'new' OR Status = 'open' )
If you want to test your search before saving it you can click the 'Update format and Search' button at the bottom-right of the page, then use the Edit Search to return to the Query Builder with all your selections still intact. When you're satisfied with the results your search generates, find the Saved searches panel on the right side of the page, provide a title for your search in the Description field, then hit Save. You can now add this search to your RT home page or recall this set of criteria by returning to the Query Builder and selecting it from the saved search drop-down. One thing to consider when setting up a saved search is that when the results appear on your home page they will be restricted to a certain number of tickets (you -can- set this number yourself), so you may want to check the sorting criteria and ensure the first results returned are the ones you're going to want quickest access to.