SerialMailer Manual - Falkon-Ware

SerialMailer Manual - Falkon-Ware

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SerialMailer Manual

For SerialMailer 7.2

Copyright © 2010-2011 Falko Axmann. All rights reserved.

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Contents

1 Getting Started

1.1

Configuring SerialMailer

1.2

Your First Serial Mail

1.2.1

1.2.2

1.2.3

1.2.4

Database

E-Mail Message

Attachments and the Preview

Getting the Mails Out

2 Database

2.1

Elements of the Database Tab

2.2

Additional Database Commands

2.2.1

2.2.2

2.2.2.1

2.2.2.2

2.2.3

Database Segmentation

Import/Export

Address Book Import

CSV Import

Multiple Recipients

3 Message Editor

3.1

Personalization

3.2

Formatting Options

3.3

Importing HTML

4 Attachments

5 Sending the Mails

6 Database Manager

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7 Preferences

7.1

Account Settings

7.1.1

7.1.2

SMTP Account

Apple Mail Account

7.1.3

Local Server

7.2

SerialMailer Settings

7.3

Templates

7.4

Blacklist

8 Templates

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1 Getting Started

This chapter is devided into two subsections. In the first, we will be configuring SerialMailer to work with a normal mail account. The second part will then focus on how to add addresses to our mailing as well as creating a personalized message text.

Let's start by opening SerialMailer via a double click on its icon in your

Applications folder.

1.1 Configuring SerialMailer

The program will automatically create a new document when it is launched.

For now, you can just ignore that window and head straight to the “SerialMailer” menu at the top left of the screen.

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Choose “Preferences” to open the preferences window and edit the account settings.

Since we haven't set up any accounts so far, the window looks quite empty. SerialMailer supports several different account types. We will create the standard SMTP account which is the most versatile one and which makes SerialMailer act similar to an ordinary e-mail client.

If you are using Apple Mail, you can import your smtp account, otherwise choose SMTP-Account (default) from the + menu in the lower left.

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This will create a new account. Let's have a look at the various fields and their meaning.

Account Type The account type determines the way in which Serial-

Mailer sends the mails, SMTP Client is the default.

Name

The account name will be used internally by SerialMailer to identify the account.

Sender Address This is the address that will be visible for the recipient

of your mails. You can either enter a plain e-mail address such as [email protected] or a combination of name and e-mail address

such as Falkon-Ware <[email protected]>.

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SMTP Host The internet address of the mail server.

Port

The port number of the mail server. This is usually 25. SerialMailer will try to guess the correct value when you click the Verify

Settings button.

Encryption If it is supported by your mail account, SerialMailer can use

an encrypted connection to increase security. Again, clicking the Verify

Settings button will validate and correct this option.

Authentication Choose Password if you have a username and password

for your account.

SMTP Login / SMTP Password Your username and password.

You can verify the settings with a click on the Verify Settings button.

This is also a good idea if you imported the account from Apple Mail to make sure that everything was imported correctly.

With the account beeing configured, we can now build our first serial mail.

1.2 Your First Serial Mail

Let's start by creating a new document (if SerialMailer hasn't opened one already). Choose New from the File menu.

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The document is structured into multiple tabs (Database, E-Mail, ...).

Each one allows you to edit one aspect of the serial mail.

1.2.1 Database

The Database tab contains the list of recipients. Click the Add button to add a new address to the list. You can also import addresses from the system wide AddressBook using the Import menu in the lower right.

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Recipients can be enabled and disabled using the checkbox at the beginning of each row. No mails will be sent to unchecked addresses. The Last

Sent column will list the date/time of the last successful mail delivery.

The contents of each column can later be inserted into your mail message.

We will use this function to create a personalized text for each of the recipients.

One of the columns has to be marked as the E-Mail Column, so that

SerialMailer knows where to take the mail addresses from. The title of the current E-Mail Column is surrounded by brackets (e.g. [ e-mail

]).

1.2.2 E-Mail Message

Now that we have a list of recipients (and some database columns that we can insert into our message), it is time to compose the e-mail text.

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You can place fields (columns) from the database in the message or the subject line using the Insert Field pop up menu in the lower left of the screen.

Once the mails are sent, the first line in the screenshot above will be converted to contain the actual names as they are stored in the database.

1.2.3 Attachments and the Preview

Attachments can be added in the Attachment tab, but let's skip this for our first mail.

The Preview tab shows you the mail message as it would be sent to each address. As you can see in the first line, the database fields have been replaced by the first and last name of the recipient.

1.2.4 Getting the Mails Out

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Now all that's left to do is to have SerialMailer send the mails to everyone in our database. In the Send tab, you can select the account that is to be used (see section 1.1 on how to configure the account).

Once you click the Send button, SerialMailer will start sending the mails.

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2 Database

2.1 Elements of the Database Tab

All the basic functions for editing the database can be found in the database tab. With the buttons at the top, you can add and remove addresses as well as edit the names of the database fields. The title of the active E-Mail Column is surrounded by brackets. You can change the column containing the e-mail addresses by selecting a column (clicking on its title) and then clicking the Set E-Mail Column button.

The list can be sorted by double clicking on one of the column headers.

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You can enable and disable entries using the checkboxes at the beginning of each row. Your mail will not be sent to disabled addresses. You can enable/disable multiple addresses at once using the commands in the

Database menu (more on this in section 2.2).

The Last Sent column contains the time and date at which a mail was successfully delivered to that address. Using commands described in section 2.2, it is possible to enable/disable addresses based on when (or if) they received your last mailing.

Addresses can be imported and exported using the respective pop up menus in the lower right corner of the window.

2.2 Additional Database Commands

Additional commands are available in the Database menu.

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You can toggle the state of multiple database entries at once using the

Enable Entries and Disable Entries commands. They are described in section 2.2.1.

The Verify E-Mail Addresses menu contains tools for improving the consistency of your database. Check Syntax tests whether there are any obvious typos in the e-mail addresses (e.g. missing "@", invalid characters, etc.) and tries to fix them if possible, otherwise the addresses are disabled. Disable Duplicates disables all addresses that are listed more than once. You can then easily find the affected addresses by sorting the database by the checkbox column (i.e. double clicking into its header bar).

2.2.1 Database Segmentation

Let's say you have a database containing addresses of people from your university, but you only want to send a mail to colleagues in your department. This is where the Disable Entries and Enable Entries commands come into play. You could first disable all addresses using Disable En-

tries > All and then enable the ones of your colleagues using Enable

Entries > By Field Contents. This will open a window where you can specify a condition such as Field "department" is "your department", where "department" is the name of one of the columns in your database.

Here is what the other filters do:

By Selection

Changes the state of all the rows that are currently selected in the database

By Last Date Sent Filters the addresses depending on the last time/date

on which a mail was sent to that address. Entries to which no mail has been delivered are considered to have a date which lies in the future (i.e.

after the current date).

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By Field Contents Enables/Disables rows based on the contents of

one of the columns.

On Blacklist You can specify a blacklist in SerialMailer's preferences.

No mails will ever be sent to an address listed there. You can check whether this is the case for any of the addresses in your database by

choosing Disable Entries > On Blacklist and then sorting your database

by the checkbox column. All the addresses that are listed in your database as well as on the blacklist will be disabled.

2.2.2 Import/Export

SerialMailer can import addresses from other programs and files such as

Apple's AddressBook application.

2.2.2.1 Address Book Import

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When importing from the MacOS X AddressBook, you can choose a group to import and whether the e-mail addresses for each person should be collated. If they are collated, your mail will be sent to each e-mail address of each person, otherwise only one of the addresses is used.

You can choose which of the addresses is used in the Address Book application using the "Edit Distribution List" command from the "Edit" menu. It only works if a group is selected in the Address Book and

SerialMailer can only use this information if a single group is imported.

2.2.2.2 CSV Import

The csv format, which can be imported and exported, is a text file containing one database entry per line. The fields in each line are separated by a special character (e.g. a tab or comma). You can choose which special character (delimiter) to use after selecting the file to be imported.

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2.2.3 Multiple Recipients

An entry in the database can have multiple destination addresses. These addresses can be entered as a comma separated list in the e-mail column.

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3 Message Editor

The message editor (E-Mail tab) is where you enter the text of your e-mail. You can personalize it by placing data from your database in the mail text. The formatting of the message can also be changed.

3.1 Personalization

SerialMailer can automatically adopt the contents of each mail to a particular recipient by substituting placeholders in the message text. To insert a placeholder for one of the database columns, choose its name from the Insert Field pull down menu at the bottom of the window.

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Additional personalization and formatting options are available from the

Special Fields pull down menu:

Smart Field This field changes its contents depending on a condition.

For example, you could use it to automatically adjust the greeting line to the gender of the recipient:

The field can be edited later on by clicking on it in the message view.

Image This field is only available when you are creating a formatted

message (which can be set via the Options menu) and places an image

file into the message. Click on its placeholder in the message to change its alignment.

Message Number A sequential number (which is unique to each re-

cipient).

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HTML Embedded File This field can be used when you are importing

raw html code to compose your message. It will be replaced by the url to a file that is attached to the message. This can be an image file, but also any other file type (e.g. you could write

Attachment tab.

). The file is then automatically attached and does not have to be added to the

3.2 Formatting Options

SerialMailer supports various formatting options which can be selected via the Options menu.

Plain Text This is the most basic format which doesn't allow for any

font styles or graphics. Its advantage is the small message size and that it is compatible with all e-mail clients.

Formatted Text can contain different font styles as well as images and

links. Use the Format menu to change the formatting.

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Template The template option combines formatted text with design

templates. How to design and install your own templates is covered in chapter 8.

Treat Text as HTML-Code can be used to load raw html code, allow-

ing you to use any web editor to design your e-mail. Each HTML-Mail has to also contain a plain text version of its content to be displayed correctly by all client programs. You can switch between the two versions using the buttons at the bottom of the window.

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3.3 Importing HTML

With the Treat Text as HTML-Code option, you can enter html code directly into SerialMailer, but you can also import code created by another program using the corresponding command in the Import menu.

A html file can contain references to additional files such as images or stylesheets. These files also have to be transfered to the recipient. The window that is shown after the html file has been opened allows you to specify which of the resources should be transfered in which way.

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One option is to attach the corresponding file to the e-mail and send a copy of it to each recipient. By default, SerialMailer tries to find the file on your computer. If it succeeds, the status in the references list will be

OK, otherwise it's Not Found. You can then manually select the file to be sent by selecting the reference in the list and clicking on Select File.

The alternative is to store the files on a webserver and have the recipients download the needed files from there. To do so, select all the references you want to redirect and click Prepend URL. You can then enter the root URL at which the files can be found. For example, if a file called my_photo.jpg is stored at http://www.mywebsite.com/imgs

/my_photo.jpg, you would enter http://www.mywebsite.com/imgs as root URL.

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4 Attachments

As with any normal e-mail client, you can add attachments to your mail.

SerialMailer, however, not only supports plain files, that are attached to every mail, but also personalized attachments which means that different files are sent to different recipients.

When using personalized attachments, all the files have to be stored in the same folder:

This folder then has to be selected as Root Folder in the settings window:

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By inserting database fields into the File Name, a different file will be appended to each mail.

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5 Sending the Mails

Once you added all recipients to the database and composed your message, you can send the mails via the Send tab.

The BCC field can be used to send a copy of each mail to one or more addresses (separated by commas).

Using the Test Run pull down menu next to the Send button, you can perform a Dry Run, which means that SerialMailer will do everything as normal, except none of the mails will actually be sent. You can then use the output in the Log tab to verify that the right e-mail addresses are enabled in the database.

The second command in the Test Run menu allows you to select a test database to which the message will be sent. That way, you can first send the mail to a private list of address and verify that it looks as expected

28 in your e-mail program. The Using Database command is only available if the Database Manager (see chapter 6 for more information) contains one or more test databases.

Click the Send button to send the mails. This will also open a progress window. You can abort the send process in two stages using the Cancel button. If you only click it once, SerialMailer will stop after the current mail has been dispatched. The program will stop immediatelly after a second click.

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6 Database Manager

The Database Manager gives you easy access to often used databases.

You can add any SerialMailer document (either via the Add button, or by drag'n'drop) to the list. Double click one of the entries to copy its database into a new document. Choose Edit Original from the Options pull down menu to edit the original database instead of creating a new copy.

Files in the list can be selected to be used for test runs using the Options pull down menu.

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7 Preferences

7.1 Account Settings

SerialMailer supports multiple account types which will be described in the following sections.

7.1.1 SMTP Account

This is the most versatile account type making SerialMailer act like a normal e-mail client. Imported accounts from Apple Mail will also be of this type.

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After you entered your account data, it can be verified and corrected with a click on the Verify Settings button. SerialMailer then tries to establish a connection. If it fails, SerialMailer will try to guess the correct settings.

Delayed Sending can be used if your mail server requires you to reduce the speed at which the mails are sent.

7.1.2 Apple Mail Account

This account will hand the mails over to Apple's Mail application. Thus, the only configuration that is required is to enter an e-mail address that is

32 already configured in Apple Mail. The downside of this is that formatted and html messages are not supported.

7.1.3 Local Server

When using a local server, no external mail server is required and SerialMailer will send the messages directly to the recipients. Any e-mail address can be entered as the sender address.

Depending on your internet connection, this send method might not work as a lot of receiving mail servers are only accepting mails from well known internet addresses. If you are getting a lot of errors while sending, you'll have to use a different account type.

7.2 SerialMailer Settings

You can configure the basic behaviour of SerialMailer under this tab.

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With the Ignore ... errors option enabled, SerialMailer will not abort the whole send process as soon as an error occurs.

7.3 Templates

You can install and remove custom design templates under the Tem-

plates tab. To install a template, click the Add Template button and select the folder containing the template files. Information on how to design your own templates can be found in chapter 8.

7.4 Blacklist

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The blacklist is a global list of e-mail addresses to which SerialMailer will send no e-mails. The addresses can either be added manually, or by importing a file that contains one address per line.

You can use '*' as a wildcard character to block multiple addresses at once. For example "*@mail.com" would block all addresses ending in

"@mail.com".

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8 Templates

Design templates in SerialMailer consist of a folder containing an "index.html" file and the required graphics files. The folder can be imported into SerialMailer using the Templates preferences window.

The "index.html" file has to contain the text "[[[message]]]" which marks the place at which the e-mail message will be inserted. For example, here is a simple template I created using the free Composer that comes with

Mozilla's SeaMonkey program (available from http://www.seamonkey

-project.org/):

The contents of the template folder then looks like this:

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You can also add a file named "preview.jpg" which will be used by Serial-

Mailer to display a preview instead of a question mark in the template list.

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