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Building a highly modular user-oriented notification system

May 9, 2023, 3:15 PM
Chesapeake Meeting Room (Norfolk Waterside Marriott)

Chesapeake Meeting Room

Norfolk Waterside Marriott

235 East Main Street Norfolk, VA 23510
Oral Track 5 - Sustainable and Collaborative Software Engineering Track 5 - Sustainable and Collaborative Software Engineering


Antunes, Carina


CERN, as many large organizations, relies on multiple communication means for different use-cases and teams.
Email and mailing lists are the most popular ones, but more modern communications systems gain traction such as Mattermost and Push notifications.
On one end of the spectrum we have communication teams writing individual emails to users on a daily basis, which may be small targets, or in the order of thousands. On the other end, there are many automated tools and scripts which generate thousands of notifications daily, mostly in the form of emails.

As a consequence of the large amount of notifications received every day, for the users receiving them, it is challenging to control and keep track of where, how and when some information was received.
At the same time for those sending and maintaining the tools that deliver notifications, it is difficult to choose which targets to adopt (email, Mattermost, etc). Additionally it is difficult to please all users and take into account their preferences. Ultimately, across all those responsible for sending information, a lot of effort is spent on maintaining similar scripts and tools.

The CERN Notifications system aims at consolidating communication by providing a central place where notifications are created, maintained and distributed.
It allows to save efforts and costs by avoiding multiple parallel implementations of communication systems and their maintenance and details such as retry and failure mechanism, version updates, etc.
CERN Notifications allows not only optimising the flow for the multiple people and teams which are responsible for sending, but also empowers the target users by respecting their preferences: how, where and when they receive their notifications.
The system was designed to allow those who send information to focus on the the content and relevance of the communication without knowing the technical details of the many frameworks available to distribute information.

This paper describes the design and architecture of the CERN Notifications system and its components, how it was designed with a flexible and highly modular architecture which allows adding further device targets with little effort. Furthermore, it presents implementation details and the decisions behind those. And last but not least it describes the features that empower users to choose how to consume information send to them.

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