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Compose responsive email templates easily, fill them with models, and send them out.
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Compose responsive email templates easily, fill them with models, and send them out.

This is the stuff responsible for sending beautiful emails in Pony Foo. I've isolated that code, and turned it into a reusable package, called campaign. It comes with a dead simple API, and a beautiful responsive layout, originally written by MailChimp, adapted by me. It's also easily configurable, and comes with nice conventions over configuration, so you don't need to do a lot to get going.

It uses Mustache (by default) to fill out templates, but it can be replaced with some other templating engine. Mandrill is used (by default) to send emails, although providing your own provider, to send emails through something else, is pretty easy.


Quick links for reference.

Getting Started

Install using npm.

npm i --save campaign

Set it up.

Construct a client.

var client = require('campaign')();

(the default provider needs an API key for Mandrill, read on)

Send emails!

client.send(template, options, done);
client.sendString('<p>{{something}}</p>', options, done);

(detailed information below)


Here is a screenshot of an email sent using this library, as seen on Pony Foo subscriptions, in production. This email is using the default layout provided by campaign.


Client Options

Here are the default options, they are explained below.

    "mandrill": {
        "apiKey": "<not provided>",
        "debug": false
    "from": "<not provided>",
    "provider": "<default>",
    "templateEngine": "<default>",
    "trap": false,
    "headerImage": "<not provided>",
    "layout": "<default>"


If true, then emails won't be sent to any recipients at all. You could also set trap to, and all emails would be sent to me instead of the intended recipients. Great for spamming me, and also great for testing.

When you trap recipients, the email will get a nifty JSON at the end detailing the actual recipients that would've gotten it.


By default, the Mandrill service is used to send the emails. Mandrill is really awesome and you should be using it. It has a generous free plan.

At the time they host their API's source code in Bit Bucket, which is kind of weird, but you can read through it nonetheless.

You need to provide an API key in apiKey, and that's all there is to it. You might prefer to ignore this configuration option, and merely set process.env.MANDRILL_APIKEY. That works, too.


The from address for our emails. The provider is responsible for trying to make it look like that's the send address. Not necessarily used for authentication.


You can use other email providers, creating your own or choosing one that comes with campaign. To implement it yourself, you need to create a custom provider object. The provider object should have a send function, which takes a model, and a done callback. You can read more about custom providers below.


You can use other template engines, creating your own. You'll need to create a custom engine object with both render and renderString methods. Note that template engines govern the default layouts. If you implement your own engine, you'll have to provide a default layout, as well.

The default template engine uses mustache. Available engines listed below.


You may provide the full path to an image. This image will be encoded in base64 and embedded into the email as a heading. Embedding helps people view your emails offline.

This image should have a 3:1ish ratio. For instance, I use 600x180 in my blog's emails.


The layout used in your emails. Templates for email sending are meant to have the bare minimum needed to fill out an email. Since you want a consistent UX, the same layout should be used for every email your product sends.

A default layout template is provided. You can provide a different one, just set layout to the absolute path of a Mustache template (or the template type supported by your engine) file. For information about the model passed to the layout, see the Templates section.

Email Sending Options

Once you've created a client, you can start sending emails. Here are the default options, and what you need to fill out. The from and trap fields are inherited from the configuration object passed to campaign, and they can be overridden on an email-by-email basis.

    "subject": "<not provided>",
    "teaser": "<options.subject>",
    "from": "<campaign.from>",
    "trap": "<campaign.trap>",
    "to": "<not provided>",
    "when": "YYYY/MM/DD HH:mm, UTC Z",
    "images": "<empty>",
    "social": {
        "twitter": "<not provided>",
        "landing": "<not provided>",
        "name": "<not provided>"
    "mandrill": {
        "tags": "<not provided>",
        "merge": "<not provided>"
    "styles": "<defaults>"

.send vs .sendString

The only difference between .send and .sendString is that .send takes the path to a file, rather than the template itself. .send compiles the template and keeps it in a cache, while .sendString compiles the template every time.


The email subject.


This is the line that most email clients show as a teaser for the email message. It defaults to the subject line. Changing it is extremely encouraged.


These are the recipients of the email you're sending. Simply provide a single recipient's email address, or an array of email addresses.


Here you can pass a moment format string. Eg. '[um] HH:mm [am] DD.MM.YYYY'. The default format passed to moment is 'YYYY/MM/DD HH:mm, UTC Z'.


If you want to provide the template with embedded images (other than the optional email header when creating the campaign client) you can set images to a list of file paths and names (to later reference them in your templates), as shown below.

    { name: 'housing', file: path.join(__dirname, 'housing.png') }

Instead of a file you can provide a data value with the base64 encoded data, and avoid the overhead of creating a temporary file. If you choose this approach you must set the mime property as well.

    { name: 'housing', mime: 'image/png', data: buff.toString('base64') }


Social metadata used when sending an email can help build your brand. You can provide a twitter handle, a name for your brand, and a landing page.

The name is used as the name of the send address, as well as in the "Visit " link.


Configuration specifically used by the Mandrill provider.

Mandrill allows you to add dynamic content to your templates, and this feature is supported by the default Mandrill provider in campaign, out the box. Read more about merge variables.


Given that Mandrill's merge API is fairly obscure, we process it in our provider, so that you can configure it assigning something like what's below to mandrill.merge, which is cleaner than what Mandrill expects you to put together.

    "locals": [{
        "email": "",
        "model": {
            "something": "is a merge local for the guy with that email"
    "globals": [{
        "these": "are merge globals for everyone"

Mandrill lets you tag your emails so that you can find different campaigns later on. Read more about tagging. By default, emails will be tagged with the template name.


Read about styles below.


There are two types of templates: the layout, and the email's body template. A default layout is provided, so let's talk about the email templates first, and then the layout.

Email body Templates

The body template determines what goes in the message body. The options we used to configure our email are also used as the model for the body template, as sometimes it might be useful to include some of that metadata in the model itself.

The API expects an absolute path to the body template.

client.send(body, options, done);

Other than the options listed above, you can provide any values you want, and then reference those in the template.

The layout Template

The layout has one fundamental requirement in order to be mildly functional, it should have a {{{body}}} in it, so that the actual email's content can be rendered. Luckily the default layout is good enough that you shouldn't need to touch it. If you're building a custom layout, {{{body}}} should be whatever expression is needed to render the unescaped <body> HTML.

Purposely, the layout template isn't passed the full model, but only a subset, containing:

    "_header": "<!!options._header>",
    "subject": "<options.subject>",
    "preview": "<options.preview>",
    "generated": "<when>",
    "body": "<html>",
    "trapped": "<options.trapped>",
    "social": "<>",
    "styles": "<>",
    "linkedData": "<options.linkedData>"

In this case, the _header variable would contain whether a header image was provided. Then, generated contains the moment the email was rendered, passing the 'YYYY/MM/DD HH:mm, UTC Z' format string to moment. Lastly, trapped contains the metadata extracted from the model when trap is set to a truthy value, in the client options.

Styling the layout

These are the default styles, and you can override them in the options passed to client.send.

    "styles": {
        "bodyBackgroundColor": "#eaeadf",
        "bodyTextColor": "#505050",
        "codeFontFamily": "Consolas, Menlo, Monaco, 'Lucida Console', 'Liberation Mono', 'DejaVu Sans Mono', 'Bitstream Vera Sans Mono', 'Courier New', monospace, serif",
        "fontFamily": "Helvetica",
        "footerBackgroundColor": "#f4f4f4",
        "headerColor": "#412917",
        "horizontalBorderColor": "#dedede",
        "layoutBackgroundColor": "#f3f4eb",
        "layoutTextColor": "#808080",
        "linkColor": "#e92c6c",
        "quoteBorderColor": "#cbc5c0"

Custom layouts should either abide by these style rule names, or provide entirely new ones.

Unsubscribe Facilities

The default layout supports an optional unsubscribe_html merge variable, which can be filled out like below.

    "merge": {
        "locals": [{
            "email": "",
            "model": {
                "unsubscribe_html": "<a href=''>unsubscribe</a>"
        }, {
            "email": "",
            "model": {
                "unsubscribe_html": "<a href=''>unsubscribe</a>"

That'd be a perfect use for merge variables, which were described above in the send options. Remember, those are just supported by Mandrill, though. Mandrill deals with merge variables after you make a request to their API, replacing them with the values assigned to each recipient.


To help you debug, an alternative provider is available. Set it up like this:

var campaign = require('campaign');
var client = campaign({
    provider: campaign.providers.terminal()

// build and send mails as usual

Rather than actually sending emails, you will get a bit of JSON output in your terminal, and the Markdown representation of your email's body HTML. Super useful during development!



There are a few different providers you can use. The default provider sends mails through Mandrill. There is also a terminal logging provider, explained above, and a nodemailer provider, detailed below.

Using nodemailer

To use with nodemailer, simply use that provider.

var nodemailer = require('nodemailer');
var smtp = nodemailer.createTransport('SMTP', {
    service: 'Gmail',
    auth: {
        user: '',
        pass: 'userpass'

var campaign = require('campaign');
var client = campaign({
    provider: campaign.providers.nodemailer({
        transport: smtp,
        transform: function (options) {
            // add whatever options you want,
            // or return a completely different object

// build and send mails as usual

That's that.

Creating custom providers

If the existing providers don't satisfy your needs, you may provide your own. The provider option just needs to be an object with a send method. For an example, check out the nodemailer provider source code.

You can easily write your own campaign provider, like this.

var campaign = require('campaign');
var client = campaign({
    provider: {
        send: function (model, done) {
            // use the data in the model to send your email messages

// build and send mails as usual

If you decide to go for your own provider, campaign will still prove useful thanks to its templating features, which you can also extend!

Template Engines

The default provider included with campaign allows us to render layouts and views using mustache, but this behavior can be altered to use a custom templating engine.

To create your own template engine, you'll need to implement the two methods below.

  render: function (file, model, done) {
  renderString: function (template, model, done) {

The done callback takes an error as the first argument, and the resulting HTML as the second argument.


You're welcome to contribute to the development of campaign! Additional template engines and providers would be nice, and I'd encourage creating packages that solely contain that engine or email provider. For instance, you could create campaign-ejs, or campaign-postmark.

Hmmm, yeah. That'd be great!



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