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Plugin “Awesome Support”

awesome-supportAwesome Support (AS) was the first service desk plugin I found. Reading through its features and watching some tutorial videos got me excited already, but most of all that the basic version is free. The concept is to provide the most basic features as a free plugin and offer additional features via commercial add-ons. With your registration at their site you get one free add-on that allows you to create custom status.

After installing the plugin I realized the “basic features” is an understatement. What else would you call 16(!) tabs on the settings page? The plugin is highly configurable and offers everything that a core service desk needs.

Awesome Support uses WordPress’s user management and introduces four new roles that have different permissions in the ticket system. Direct and moderated registration can be set up.

It seems though that the current owner of the product (it was sold in 2018 by its creator) is not very responsive to support requests himself (talk about a paradox). Iam using release 5.8.0 which is over a year old and it seems that development of the announced new major release 6.0.0 got stuck somehow. A release candiate of it versioned as 5.8.1 was recently published. Read more about it here.

Release 5.8.1 did not work on my site though. The submit ticket form and the ticket lists were not displayed anymore. I rolled back to 5.8.0.

What the user sees

AS makes sure that users can only see their own tickets. The my tickets page is clean and orderly, showing the most important information of each:

as-my-tickets

Each single ticket page shows the conversation between user and support and provides a comment field at the bottom so the reporter of the ticket can add more infomation or reply to a question from the support team.

as-single-ticklet

What the agent sees

The agent logs in to the WordPress backend. The Tickets page shows all reported issues with several details in each column. In the upper area a filter bar allows to bring down the list to only tickets you want to see.

as-tickets-backend

The single ticket view shows the details of the the ticket, the conversation history and provides several options to react, e.g. adding a comment and reply, changing the status or custom fields like Product or Channel.

as-single-ticklet-backend

Patches

The current code of 5.8.0 and the release candiate for 6.0.0 (called 5.8.1) have a few minor PHP bugs that might cause error messages in your WP backend. Here is how to fix those.

class-product-sync.php

This file resides in the includes folder and requires the following path in 5.8.0 and 5.8.1:

***************
*** 190,196 ****
              case 'hide_empty':
              case 'hierarchical':
              case 'cache_domain':
-                continue;
                 break;
  
              case 'exclude':
--- 190,195 ----
***************
*** 217,223 ****
                 if ( 'count' === $value ) {
                    $clean_args['fields']              = 'ids';
                    $clean_args['wpas_get_post_count'] = true; // We set wpas_get_post_count in order to know that we just need the post count
!                   continue;
                 }
  
                 /* Use the given arg if supported by WP_Query */
--- 216,222 ----
                 if ( 'count' === $value ) {
                    $clean_args['fields']              = 'ids';
                    $clean_args['wpas_get_post_count'] = true; // We set wpas_get_post_count in order to know that we just need the post count
!                   break;
                 }
  
                 /* Use the given arg if supported by WP_Query */
***************
*** 239,245 ****
  
                 /* Overwrite the child_of argument */
                 if ( isset( $args['get'] ) && 'all' === $args['get'] ) {
!                   continue;
                 }
  
                 $clean_args['post_parent'] = $value;
--- 238,244 ----
  
                 /* Overwrite the child_of argument */
                 if ( isset( $args['get'] ) && 'all' === $args['get'] ) {
!                   break;
                 }
  
                 $clean_args['post_parent'] = $value;

functions-templating.php

This file resides in the includes folder and requires the following path in 5.8.0:

***************
*** 691,697 ****
              $list  = array();
  
              if ( empty( $terms ) ) {
!                continue;
              }
  
              foreach ( $terms as $term ) {
--- 691,697 ----
              $list  = array();
  
              if ( empty( $terms ) ) {
!                break;
              }
  
              foreach ( $terms as $term ) {

Styles

I added just a little right and bottom margin to the top buttons in the ticket display so they don’t touch each other on smaller dispays.

.wpas-ticket-buttons-top a.wpas-btn {
   margin-right: 8px;
   margin-bottom: 8px;
}

 

Summary

The free Awesome Support plugin offers all that a basic ticket help desk needs and more. It is an amazing value at no cost.

There are several paid Awesome Support add-ons available that offer additional features like custom fields, auto closing, reports on timing etc., features that are mostly used by the agents or companies serving a ticket desk. So if you want, you can add those you need to serve all your extra needs. For example, the Custom Fields add-on can make sense if you want to inquire more details in a ticket, e.g. a version number or support license key.

What Awesome Support and its add-ons does not offer is a workflow engine to define a guided process through a ticket with conditions, validators and post-functions per transition. But I consider that not necessary for a first level service desk. Even when using commercial products, the process of handling a ticket is never much more than exchanging comments with the customer.

Currently, the provider of this plugin lacks customer support and an onverdue update.

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