[Update: Use of the new Emailing system has been so widespread that we quickly reached the normal email limit imposed by our rented server, temporarily suspending service. On Monday, we’ll make arrangements to have our limit raised much higher, restoring our email service. Obviously it’s an encouraging sign that we reached the normal email limit just two days after releasing the module.]
As many readers of this webzine are already aware, I’m quite old-fashioned in my software tastes, almost never using Facebook, Twitter, or RSS feeds, while the notion that someone could regularly interact with websites on the tiny screen of a smartphone simply mystifies me. Instead, email remains my primary means of Internet communication.
For old-fashioned email-centric fogies such as myself, I’ve just added a powerful Emailing module to the website, allowing visitors to email Post, Article, and Archive pages as fully-rendered webpages, looking almost identical to the original, graphics included. Just press the small “Email” button newly located near the top of your pages, provide the necessary information, including an optional message at the top, and press the Send Email button. If you send out a webpage to yourself, you can see how the result looks.
Although this feature may sound rather trivial, it was actually quite difficult to build, and I’m not aware of any other website, from the august New York Times on downward, that possesses this capability (“emailed” articles are almost invariably just sent out merely as links). The reason for this difficulty is that modern webpages are rendered based on complex CSS style sheets and most email clients, including the ubiquitous Gmail, can’t interpret CSS, producing near-garbage looking emails as a result. The only real way to get around this incompatibility is to build a fully generalized—and fast!—CSS parser/embedder that replaces the web page’s CSS with hard-coded style tags, which all email clients can properly interpret. Given the enormous complexity of both CSS stylesheets and webpages, this is a highly difficult task and I was pleasantly surprised that I actually managed to build such a system. The very nice looking emails are the result.
With the difficult phase of the project completed, I’ll probably soon add a module allowing email-centric readers to “subscribe” to the posts or articles of specific contributors, which would be emailed out as soon as they are published, filling a role similar to that of an RSS feed. I’ll also probably begin offering an emailed Weekly Digest, summarizing the most popular articles and blog posts of the previous week.
Meanwhile, for more modern users, who probably regard email is something akin to fax machines and stone tablets, I have also added the major Social Networking buttons—Likeing, Tweeting, RSS, and such—to the Mobile edition, and will probably be making a few other Mobile layout changes in the next couple of days.
Please feel free to pass along your suggestions and complaints on these and any other matters.