Effortlessly send email from any Node.js App
using Amazon's Simple Email Service (SES).
e.g: welcome, newsletter, verification, password reset and notification emails
While we would prefer for email to be phased out and replaced by something better, the fact remains that most people still use email as their primary means of (digital) communication.
Given that email is not going away, we need to make sending email to people as simple and reliable as possible.
Reliably Send beautiful email with dependable delivery. When email that has to get through as quickly as possible so everyone can get on with their lives.
Decisions We Made (to Get Started as Fast as Possible)
In crafting this module (for our own use) we have made a few of technical decisions (for pragmatic reasons):
- use environment variables for storing sensitive information (API Keys) and projects-specific configuration (Template Directory)
- use Amazon Web Services Simple Email Service ("AWS SES") for reliably sending email messages because it has good documentation, excellent "deliverability" and no minimum spend (10 cents per 1000 emails sent)! (there's also a generous "Free Tier" of 65k emails per month if you're new to AWS)
- use Handlebars for email template rendering. Handlebars is very easy to use and allows us to send beautiful HTML emails without the complexity or learning curve of many other view libraries.
Note: if you prefer to use a different Email Service provider or template/view library for your project, please let us know! We are happy to support alternatives to make this project more useful to other people with specific needs.
Checklist (everything you need to get started in 5 minutes)
- install the
sendemailmodule from NPM
- Ensure that you have an AWS Account and have downloaded your credentials.
- set the required environment variable (see below)
- If you don't already have a /templates directory in your project create one!
- create a pair of email templates in your /templates directory
- borrow the code for
hello.htmlfrom the /examples/templates directory of this project!
- create a file called
welcome.jsand paste some sample code in it (see: /examples/templates/send-welcome-email.js )
sendemail from NPM 📦
npm install sendemail --save
2. Set your Environment Variables 🔐
sendemail requires you set
five environment variables.
The first 4 relate to your AWS account
TEMPLATE_DIRECTORY should contain your email
We recommend using
env2to load your Environment Variables from a file so that you can easily keep track of which variables you are using in each environment.
2.1 Verify Your Email Address on AWS SES
In order to send email from a specific email address, you will need to verify that email address on AWS SES. The process is quite simple, but there are a few steps involved, so we created a separate step-by-step guide: How to setup AWS SES verified email?
2.2 Create an
Once you have a verified email on AWS SES,
create a file in the root of your project called
and paste the following:
export AWS_REGION=eu-west-1export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=YOURKEYexport AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=YOURSUPERSECRETexport SENDER_EMAIL_ADDRESSfirstname.lastname@example.org TEMPLATE_DIRECTORY=./examples/templates
Update the values to the real ones for your AWS account.
If you are new to environment variables, we have a quick introduction: https://github.com/dwyl/learn-environment-variables
3. Create your Template(s) 📝
Create a pair of templates simple
.html (pretty design) and
.txt (plaintext) templates to get started.
Here's what our pair of templates look like side-by-side:
[ Click the image to expand/zoom ]
Question: Should we create plaintext templates (in addition to html?)? Quick Answer: Yes. For Expanded Answer, see: Plain Text Templates? section in Notes (below).
If you are stuck, have a look at /examples/templates/
4. Send an Email! ✉️
Create a file called
email.js and paste the following:
var sendemail =var email = sendemailemail;var person =name : "Jenny"email: "your.name+test" + Math + "@gmail.com" // person.email can also accept an array of emailssubject:"Welcome to DWYL :)"
For full code of working example see: /examples/templates/send-welcome-email.js Note: you still need to set your environment variables for the email to be sent.
If you wish to send to multiple recipients of include CC or BCC recipients,
use the sendMany method. This allows you to provide an options object
with an array of
bccAddresses and charset options.
var sendemail = ;var options =templateName: 'hello'context:tempalateVariableName: 'Variable Value'name: 'Joe Bloggs'subject: 'Welcome to Email'senderEmailAddress: 'From Name <email@example.com>'toAddresses: 'firstname.lastname@example.org' 'email@example.com'ccAddresses: 'ccRecipient1@gmail.com' 'ccRecipient2@gmail.com'bccAddresses: 'bccRecipient1@gmail.com' 'bccRecipient2@gmail.com'htmlCharset: 'utf16'textCharset: 'utf16'subjectCharset: 'utf8';sendemail;
Which Email Service Provider?
We are currently using AWS SES for dwyl.
Moving out of AWS SES sandbox environment.
When you first sign up to AWS, you are provided with a sandbox account. With this, you can send up to 200 emails a day, to email addresses that you have registered on your sandbox environment. For some use cases this is fine, but for those who want a higher daily sending quota, want to send emails without the restriction of registering recipient emails upfront, amongst other reasons 'moving out' of your sandbox might be beneficial. For many services, this upgrade comes with a cost, but with AWS SES, this is not necessarily the case. A quick and easy way to do so is to apply for an increase in your SES Sending Limit; (1) click on the following link, https://aws.amazon.com/ses/faqs/ (2) search for "apply" in section 4 and (3) click 'apply'.
Which View/Template Libaray?
For simplicity we are using
handlebars is tried and tested and while it does not attempt
to do anything fancy ("VirtualDOM"), it does allow
you to do sophisticated templates with includes and iterators
and supports compilation so its fast
(fast enough ... how many millions of emails are you sending per day...?)
Yes... mustache is "faster"
than handlebars ... but in our experience having conditionals
(i.e. "logic") is very useful for reducing the number of required templates while not (significantly) increasing complexity.
we don't think
if statements in views are a "crime" ... do you...?
If anyone feels strongly about switching to an alternative template engine, please raise an issue: https://github.com/dwyl/sendemail/issues (please give clear reasons, i.e. not "react-ify-licious-heah because its so cool ... ")
Plain Text Templates?
In our experience, while most modern email clients
(Gmail, Apple/iOS Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook)
HTML email enabled by default,
often the people who prefer text-only
(e.g: people with Blackberry phones,
visual/physical impairment or company email
email systems - with aggressive filtering)
are "higher value" customers. Also,
possibly more importantly (depending on who is using your product/service) you can have technical privacy-concious people
that only read
.txt email to avoid sending
and tracking data ... but, if you're building a tool for
non-technical people, focus on the fact that
is more accessible and prevents your messages getting
blocked by spam filters.
High volume of emails when running automated tests?
When testing functions which will subsequently call methods in third party libraries, your tests no longer need to run through those methods, you can instead assume that the third party method will give back what they say they will give back (since these tests should already exist in the library you are using).
Once you are sure there are sufficient tests in place for the method you will stub, you may proceed with a test double.
For this library there are significant benefits for using a test double for the
The following is a quick example of how to implement a test stub:
If you have a helper function
notifyUser which will subsequently call
require('sendemail').email, this can be stubbed with:
npm install --save-dev sinon
Changing your test:
var notifyUser = ;;
To be something like this:
var notifyUser = ; // this has to be required before the stub is implementedvar sinon = ;var sendemail = ;;
Check out the article in background reading for best practices when implementing test doubles with sinon
- Designing for the inbox: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/dev-resources/guides/design/ (plenty of detail & highly informative)
- Who Cares About Plain Text [email]? https://blog.aweber.com/email-deliverability/who-cares-about-plain-text.htm
- Can Email Be Responsive? http://alistapart.com/article/can-email-be-responsive
- Coding your emails (What’s so hard about HTML emails?): https://www.campaignmonitor.com/dev-resources/guides/coding/
- Best Practices for Plain Text Emails and Why They’re Important: https://litmus.com/blog/best-practices-for-plain-text-emails-a-look-at-why-theyre-important
- Best practices for using test doubles (spies, stubs and mocks) https://semaphoreci.com/community/tutorials/best-practices-for-spies-stubs-and-mocks-in-sinon-js
- Detail: https://aws.amazon.com/ses/details/
- Getting Started: https://aws.amazon.com/ses/getting-started/
- Video Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NT8KRXRFG8
- Basic Tutorial: http://timstermatic.github.io/blog/2013/08/14/sending-emails-with-node-dot-js-and-amazon-ses/
- Testing: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/DeveloperGuide/mailbox-simulator.html
- Email Client Stats: https://emailclientmarketshare.com/
- Email Adoption: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_email#Adoption
There are many situations where you want to send people email.
A simple "hello & welcome to our community" email you send to people when they register to learn more about your product/service. see: /examples/templates/send-welcome-email.js
Verification Email Address
As part of registering new people for your app you will need to verify their email addresses to ensure that people are not signing up with fake emails (or worse using someone else's email!)
People forget passwords, we need to help them set a new password as quickly & securely as possible.
Remind people they signed up but have not used the product/service?
Sam liked your post/photo/update ... social validation that your life has meaning! 😉