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Author Topic: Assembling e-mail digests for announcement lists  (Read 7004 times)

superticker

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Assembling e-mail digests for announcement lists
« on: August 30, 2006, 01:55:16 PM »
... I also got your bug report that i introduced a wrapping bug in latest form letter machine; I'm on it.
Good deal.  That bug prevents me from putting the Forms Letter Machine in production use for an announcement e-mailing list (event digest) I moderate.

What would be really neat is if the FormsLetterMachine actually assembled (formatted) the e-mail digest so that digest-aware e-mail programs would see these e-mail message digests as folders that they would explode into individual message members.  In other words, have the FormsLetterMachine become an e-mail digest creating machine just like e-mail list servers do today.

Your next question is going to be, why not let the e-mail list sever (we use Majordomo) build the e-mail digest for you instead?  The answer is because Majordomo assembles messages into digests in FIFO order (by arrival), and we want the events listed in the digest to come in chronological order (by event date) instead.  If someone knows of a list server that assembles digests by a sort key (in the message header) instead, please let me know.

superticker

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Re: Assembling e-mail digests for announcement lists
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2006, 09:48:47 AM »
What would be really neat is if the FormsLetterMachine actually assembled (formatted) the e-mail digest so that digest-aware e-mail programs would see these e-mail message digests as folders that they would explode into individual message members.  In other words, have the FormsLetterMachine become an e-mail digest creating machine just like e-mail list servers do today.
I've given this suggestion a little more thought asking myself what would be the ideal solution.

The ideal solution would let an XML style sheet (like a CSS style sheet) define the output format so one could use it for anything (including assembling an e-mail digest).  That brought me to the realization that database applications already support this feature.  My question now is ...

Can someone recommend a low-cost database application that can input incoming e-mail data, parse it into fields, and then output it according the an XML style sheet?  It could be a flat-file database, although if it had relational features, that would be nice.

The initial application would be to take incoming news releases (event e-mail announcements), parse then into fields, then output them as an e-mail announcement digest employing an XML style sheet to format the output.

mouser

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Re: Assembling e-mail digests for announcement lists
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2006, 09:55:48 AM »
i'm quite interested in hearing more about what you would like to do - i'm having a bit of a hard time following it completely, but im quite interested in the idea.  maybe an example would help?

(ps. in case you didn't notice i fixed the bug yesterday)

superticker

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Re: Assembling e-mail digests for announcement lists
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2006, 11:39:48 AM »
I'm quite interested in hearing more about what you would like to do - I'm having a bit of a hard time following it completely, but I'm quite interested in the idea.  maybe an example would help?
Are you asking what an e-mail digest is?

Back in the old days (1988), before the web, Usenet, and its forums, people used e-mailing lists for forums.  The problem was one e-mailing list (forum) might generate 30 messages a day.  So e-mail list servers (like Majordomo and LISTSERV) would optionally let subscribers join a digest version of their e-mailing list.   Basically, the list server combines the day's (or week's) e-mail together into a digest, then sends it out as one big e-mail with a table of contents.  There's an RFC specification written describing the digest layout (which could be defined today with an XML style sheet).

When your e-mail client receives such a digest, it displays it in your inbox as a folder.  When you click on the folder, it opens and displays a directory of the individual members (e-mails within the digest).

The e-mail list server always assembles the digests in FIFO order.  However, for my announcement e-mailing list, I would want the digests assembled in chronological order based on the meeting times of the events listed in the digest.  In other words, news releases for each individual event come in randomly.  I want them sorted by event meeting date in the outgoing e-mail digest (say based on a sort-key header component).

I think some kind of database that outputs its results according to an XML style sheet (defined by the RFC digest layout) may work the best.  You could use The Forms Letter Machine (FLM) as a front end interface to such a database.  The problem is you would have to define a different FLM node for each kind of XML tag in the output XML style sheet.  In short, the FLM would become an XML file editor.

I have just looked at Help & Manual http://www.ec-software.com/index.html which DonationCoder is offering a big discount on to registered users.  It can do conditional output formatting and has a built-in XML editor.  I'm wondering if it can be used to maintain a list of typical events that can be conditionally assembled into a digest defined by an XML style sheet?  It would have to have the conditional selection features of the FLM, but work like an XML editor.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 11:43:58 AM by superticker »