A tool for automating content creation for email campaigns, built with Contentful.
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services/email-container
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LICENSE.md
README.md
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server.js

README.md

Coding-free iterating on email

License

MIT

Business aspects

Business ascepts have been presented in deatils here.

In short: it's a sample application using Contentful SaaS to fastly build a coding-free tool for emails' content management.

NOTICE: We are using this in production on daily basis and it works just perfect. It's giving us a possibility to work on Ops emails with almost no need for commiting/deploying, we only do that when there is a breaking change in the layout or new features are going to be released ;)

Technical aspects

Configuration

To setup your integration with Contentful you will have to modify config/base.js file. You should change two places:

  • Contentful Service (contentful/draft and contentful/published keys); you should obtains the keys in your Contentful settings.
  • Authorization configuration (autorization/contentful key), the value should be sent in Authorization header with Contentful Webhook request, it's configured in Contentful along with the webhook.

NOTICE: The config pattern in the app allows you to have multiple configuration files - environment or locale based - but at the beggining you can use it in a simple way:

var config = require("./../config").current;

General Desing

Contentful restrictions

There is a hardcoded value of content type's name that shuld be called email so that you have to name you content type in Contentful this way or change it in the code, it's up to you.

Email Container Engine

To use the email container in your system you should do the following:

var EmailContainer  = require("./../services/email-container");
var emailContainer  = new EmailContainer({ container: "backup" });

The types of container are as follows:

  • backup, data will be read from previously generated backup file stored as: contentful-emails-backup.json
  • cache, data will be read from Memory Cached version. Cache is initialized on application start and refreshed when Contentful webhook reach the api endpoint.
  • contentful, here you can additonally pass type attribute (published or draft) depends from which source you want to render. In this case data will be read directly from Contentful.

Then to render the file:

emailContainer.render(util.format("welcome", customer.language), payload)
    .then((emailEntry) => {
        // emailEntry: { body: ... , subject: ..., etc. }
    });

To configure mapping between Contentful and available properties please look into /service/email-container/index.js file and check the render method.

Layouts

We decided to use Swig templating engine, because we had many good experiences with it in the past. For email rendering we use files stored in front-end/views/emails folder and you should store there all email related content to easily extend your layouts in the future.

The variables available during rendering can be configured in the util/html.js. As you can notice we have already preapred some basic useful variables and methods.

Parser

The parser class you can find here: /services/email-container/parser. It's a place where you can define spacial placehoders and thier transformations so that Content Manager can display dynamic data (undestand as payload used for rendering) inside the content, e.g.:

Hi [[customer-name]]

The list of needed placeholder should be discussed between developers and Content Managers.

Cache & Webhook

The application provides simple Memory Cache mechanism. When application is started then published data is read from Contentful and stored in the memory. Whenever there is a publish/unpublish done in Contenful the Cache will be updated accordingly by configured webhook or after application is restarted.

Tasks

In the project for running maintanance tasks we use Gulp.

Backup Contentful

Running the below command will endup downloading the published versions from Contentful and storing them in the file system: files/contentful-emails-backup.json. This file is used by backup email container to render the tempaltes.

gulp contentful-backup

Run the app

To run the app simple run the following command:

npm install
node server.js

The simply open in your browser: http://localhost:3000 and then you can see content of your containers:

Application Overview

Basic usage

Developer:

  • setup environment
  • create and maintain layouts
  • prepare new placeholders and partials views

Content Manager:

  • define entries in Contentful
  • define placeholders for developer (e.g. "we need a button that allows to confirm registration")
  • fix typos
  • preapre the content (check always in draft mode how email looks like)
  • publish ready emails so they are avaiaible in production right away