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html email from an app

Posted on 2015-02-23
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Last Modified: 2015-03-05
Hello I am getting an app built and I want the user to be able to send an email from it with html formatting. Do I need to setup a separate mail server or will the app be able to use the users default mail settings
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Question by:Ozwazza
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by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 40627399
Is this a mobile app or a web app?

Users don't typically send email from an app using their settings.  Instead, you send the mail through a server you control and it becomes a matter of setting the MIME type on the email correctly (text/html).
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by:Ozwazza
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It's a mobile app
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by:Jason C. Levine
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Is the email something like a sharing function (which would use the local device mail application) or some other form?
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bbao earned 500 total points
ID: 40627493
it depends.

the most simple solution is to call the default mail program via the traditional convention like "mailto:username@domainname.com", but this way has no control on the content of email subject and message body.

the second approach is to send email by the app itself. obviously this way you need to know the user's credential to access his/her email box over SMTP protocol, and your app talks to the target email server and sends the message in HTML format using the commands defined in SMTP as well as SSL/TLS and StartTLS specifications. the developer needs to be familar with SMTP programming if you go to this approach.

it is also a bit annoying for the users as they need to provide their email credential, including email address, password, SMTP server name and supported procotols if necessary, individually to your app though they might have already given the sensitive info to the email client on the mobile device.

the third approach is vendor or device dependent as the app needs to directly call the email program over APIs to send rich-content emails in HTML format. it sounds great and simple but it requires open APIs provided by the email program (in most cases, the built-in email program on the device). it depends on the vendor to open the APIs for the OS, mail client and even programming languages.

does it make sense?
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