HTML Emails in Rails 3
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HTML Emails in Rails 3

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A talk on sane html email development in rails that I prepared for Melbourne Ruby Group... but never actually presented.

A talk on sane html email development in rails that I prepared for Melbourne Ruby Group... but never actually presented.

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    HTML Emails in Rails 3 HTML Emails in Rails 3 Presentation Transcript

    • HTML Emails in Rails 3 @johnbarton http://goodfil.ms : http://whoisjohnbarton.com
    • What do I want to do?Design, and implement, and deploy a good looking HTML email that worksacross all common desktop, web, and mobile clients with a fall back to text.
    • What do I know?
    • Writing HTML emails is painful Lots of mail clients broken in lots of ways. CSS support is neither CSS, nor support. Tables for layout, inline css for colours and shit
    • Testing HTML emails is painfulI literally have to send emails to a whole bunch of clients and look at them and if I got a single bloody thing wrong do the whole thing over from scratch.
    • ...and it got even more painful iPhones, iPad, and Android mail clients are popular now. They are still broken AND have tiny screens. ...and I don’t even own an iPhone.
    • What don’t I know?
    • Is there a good way to do this in Rails 3? ... everything else is shiny and rad so I’d assume so.
    • Surely it’s as simple as:gem install incredibly_useful_but_confusingly_named_email_thing
    • Let’s Google This Shit
    • Lots of “getting started” guides Not a lot of “here’s a good way to do the whole thing”
    • So over two weeks of TRY ALLTHE THINGS I’ve settled on adecent toolchain and process. YMMV.
    • Step 1: Find a base to work on
    • This is important A lot of people have put in a lot of effort working out the “generic” kinks in allthe different email clients and there is NO NEED for you to replicate the effort
    • You can use an off the shelf template http://themeforest.net/category/marketing/email-templates or http://www.campaignmonitor.com/templates/
    • Or use boilerplate http://htmlemailboilerplate.com/
    • Pro-tip #1: mix haml & erb Stick with ERB for your outermost layout, as it’s the smaller diff from your boilerplate, and you’ll want to update that as the boilerplate evolves.Use haml for everything inside there as it makes all the nested tables easier to manage
    • Step 2: Use sane tool for inlining your CSS
    • Premailer Pros: auto generates text part, popular, has “mail” in the nameCons: Inlines everything, about 6 million forks with different shit
    • RoadiePros: Inline some stuff, leaves some alone, can use asset pipeline Cons: Our build segfaults
    • Slide intentionally left blank
    • Protip #2: Take advantage of the asset pipelineYou often have to “pointlessly” repeat style info on different elements, SASS with mixins makes that not eye bleedingly painful
    • Step 3: Keep templates simple The tables make shit hard enough as is, don’t put any logic in there
    • Protip #3: Use PresentersPush logic in there, it’s easy to test. Push copy in there, makes keeping HTML + Text parts in sync easier.
    • Protip #4: Use partials as layoutsIsolate your tables from your content for more smiles and less swears.
    • Step 4: Smooth out your feedback loop
    • TDD & F5DDEither works well in Rails for web stuff, but no one has nailed it for email yet
    • This is the tricky bit.You want to work in layers.
    • Do 90% of the work in the browserWhere you are held in the warm embrace of the web inspector.
    • Then email to yourselfThis catches a bunch of “I have a fundamentally wrong assumption about something that works in the browser will work in at least 1 mail client” You will have lots of those.
    • Then use one of the “magic” testing appsI use http://litmus.com, but http://emailonacid.com looks good too and has a name that suggests what happened on the Office 2007 team
    • Only move up a layer when you’ve 100% nailed it And when you screw up, go back to level one.
    • Step 5: Profit?
    • SIGN UP TOGOODFILMS