Automated Email

Predictions have been told over the years about the downfall of e-mail, all of them nonsense. E-mail is a great messaging technology. Most importantly, SMTP is a push protocol making e-mail relatively real-time. That’s also why it’s been used for automated notifications since its birth.

Automated e-mails can easily clutter your mailbox to the point where you filter them out and start ignoring them. Flowdock is a great solution for this as it frees your own mailbox. Automated mails are much easier to process if the work is shared by a team. A shared pain is a lesser pain.

Another great side of e-mail is its ubiquity. Any old tinderbox of a web application has the ability to send notifications via e-mail. That means Flowdock can be integrated to almost any service.

Get The Most Out Of Your E-Mail Integration

Using e-mail with Flowdock gives you full control over what notifications should contain and when they should be sent and who should be addressed in particular. Here’s how.

Create Logs With Tags

It’s a great idea to pre-tag automated e-mails to create sensible logs. For example, our deployment notifications come tagged both with #deploy and the name of the deployed project (frontend, backend) and the environment (qa, staging, production).

Capistrano deploy log as automated e-mail notifications

There are two ways to make this happen, you can either use a #hashtag in the subject, eg. “Deployed #frontend on #qa”, or you can add the tags prefixed with plus (+) signs into the e-mail address used for sending like this:

Log By User And Get Attention

You can also tag by users. Lets say I wanted to easily see all deploys deployed by a certain someone, I could either use @username in the subject “Deployed #frontend on #qa by @mikael” or add the tag to the email address prefixed with a dot (.) like so

So all strings prefixed with a plus sign after the flow name are stored as tags, and all prefixed with a dot are stored as user tags. You can also use the user tags to get someone’s attention. The @everyone tag can also be used and is also handy for important notifications that require everyone’s immediate attention.

Real-World E-Mail Workflows

Tags are a great way to filter important content that streams to your Flowdock flow. We recently showed how we handle feedback using a lightweight process.

In fact, we use e-mail integration with a bunch of services ourselves: