Feature request: tray notifcations, tray icon colour change, email alerts and log records when a host goes offline/online

Started by networkwalking

I've been using NetWorx for years and am a big fan! smile
I have some computers I connect to via my VPN, and I currently use EMCO Ping Monitor to alert me when the VPN connection is down. If you added a few features to the NetWorx Connection Monitor I could get rid of the Ping Monitor software. I can add my remote computers to the Connection Monitor using their IP Address or Host Name. Here's what else I'd need in order to just use Connection Monitor:

  1. Ability to configure a Windows Tray Notification for when a Host goes offline (eg, Host Name COMPUTER_XYZ is offline) and comes back online.
  2. Ability to configure NetWorx changing it's tray icon (or perhaps just change the tray icon color) when any Host Names are offline (and then automatically revert to normal when all Hosts are back online). If we just changed the color of the icon (or the background color of the graph when using the tray graph, which is what I'd be doing since I use the graph) I'd recommend Yellow for when some Hosts are offline, Red for when all are offline, and then maybe briefly Green for when all Hosts come back online. Probably good to just let the user configure each color using a color picker.
  3. Enhance the Connection Monitor Log to include which Host was online/offline.
  4. Ability to configure a Email Alert for when a Host goes offline and comes back online. Of course, if one of the Host Names is for something like Google and my Internet connection goes down I won't receive that email alert. This is understandable and acceptable (and unavoidable!). I would be using NetWorx on a computer at the other end of the VPN and so that installation would be the one that could email me that it lost connection to the VPN computers on this end.

I don't really need any fancy graphing -- I just need to know when the connection is down (and then comes back up). Ideally I'd love to have all 4 features listed above, but I could probably get by for a while with just the first 2.

Thanks for considering my request!
Those are great ideas actually. We are currently working on a new version of NetWorx (mainly for high DPI support) and will be happy to implement items 1 to 3.

Item 4 may need to be thought out. Like you said, if the connection went down, it would be unable to send e-mails anyway, while if you are at the computer where it happened, you would see a notification and a change in the icon.

Once again, thanks for the ideas and stay tuned. The new version should be out soon wink
Very, very cool! That is super-encouraging! smile

And just to clarify regarding Item 4, because I wasn't terribly clear: I have scenarios where the VPN goes down, but not because of the WAN connection failing, but rather something to do with the VPN itself. Most of the time this is a momentary thing where the VPN is "refreshing" itself (I think). But there are certain conditions where I could have it fail for a while until I went into the router admin on one end or the other to fix something. The most common example of this is if my ISP decides to switch me to a different IP on either end, as the VPN needs to know the IPs of both ends in order to work. So in those scenarios the email is helpful when I'm away as then I know that certain things are not going to happen (eg, site-to-site backups across the VPN). However, it is not immediately critical to have email alerts for this (and perhaps I'd find I don't really need them at all). So 1 - 3 will be fantastic. smile

Since I'm obviously invested in this particular feature set, feel free to ping me (heh) for input/feedback on UI/UX, functionality particulars, etc. I have a decent head for thinking through these things conceptually, and I do some programming so I have a sense of how to consider the backend aspects even if I don't know the particulars of what language you all are coding in.
Thanks for working some of the above into v6.2! smile

A few things:
  1. Bug: I have Connection Monitor (CM) configured to open on double-click of the tray icon. If CM is already open and I double-click the tray icon NetWorx crashes.
  2. Logging and notification in CM is a bit unreliable. It does not always seem to register an Offline event. I've had a few times where it showed a Status of "Request timed out" but did not log an Offline event in the Log (or give a tray notification). It also just generally seems to take longer than my other software. What is the "Connection monitor timeout" setting (defaults to 60 seconds)? My instinct is to reduce that, but I want to be sure I understand what it is changing.
  3. For my purposes/needs, splitting out the Offline/Online events into the individual Host Names is important. Meaning, if HostNameA goes Offline, I'd like a tray notification of that specific Host Name, as well as an entry in the Log indicating that specific Host Name is offline.
  4. For my purposes/needs I'll eventually need item (2) from my first post above (as it enables me to see at a glance that something is offline) : Ability to configure NetWorx changing it's tray icon color when any Host Names are offline. Is that still a possibility for the future?

I understand features not making it in to the most recent release, given the time frame. So please do not hear me as ungrateful! I just want to get a sense of what features may yet be forthcoming, and what things you all don't intend to develop further.

Thank you for your feedback.

Regarding the bug

I only managed to reproduce it once and it was unclear why it crashed. We have made a couple of changes that may have fixed the issue, so please grab the new build, install it over and let me know if you manage to crash it again this way.

Regarding unreliable notifications

They are in fact reliable, but are configured in a way to avoid false positives. The underlying algorithm is as follows:
  1. A ping echo request is sent to all the configured targets.
  2. If only some of them, but not all are down, nothing happens.
  3. If all of them are down, there will be 2 more attempts made in 60 seconds (30 seconds apart)
  4. If all of them are down after that, the connection is considered to be off-line.
In particular item #2 does not trigger a false positive if a packet is lost, the target itself is down or a part of the Internet is unreachable. At the same time item #3 ensures that only lengthy drop-outs of over a minute are registered. Momentary disruptions are not logged.

As you have probably already found in the hidden options, both numbers can be changed. Say 2 retries in 5 seconds will detect much shorter drop-outs.

Regarding reporting individual host names and icon colours

The reason why we haven't implemented them, at least for now, is that while this functionality may be useful to you, it's not in line with the simplicity of the product and its intended use. It sounds like you are trying to use NetWorx to monitor a set of servers and want to know when some of them go down. However NetWorx is not a server monitor and is not designed be used as such.

Although Connection Monitor pings servers and checks whether they are on-line, it only serves one purpose: to know whether the Internet connection is operational. If all servers are down, so is the connection. If at least one server is up, so is the connection. For server monitoring there is a number of better-suited products out there, including some free ones I think.
I have this one setup as a portable installation. Can you point me to the portable new version for testing?

That all makes total sense regarding the "seeming" unreliableness -- I was trying to use it differently than how it is intended (eg, I had some servers and also some internet locations defined, so I'd not see an Offline event if only one server was rebooting).

I totally respect those limits you're setting regarding feature scope / feature creep -- thanks for clarifying where those lines are, and I appreciate that you all are very thoughtful/intentional about what gets added to the software. smile

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