How Community Pull Requests have made migrating from Mandrill to SparkPost smooth
The last two months have been a rush! As the community manager here at SparkPost, a large part of my job falls into the hard to measure categories of brand awareness and garnering feedback from the community. This is usually what they call a long-tail endeavor — something that you don’t expect to see dramatic results from immediately. Until, that is, something upheaves the industry.
This is every community manager’s dream — what we were made to do! I refilled my coffee mug, rallied the troops (most of whom were already online), and we took up the banner of answering questions, pointing people to resources, and burning the midnight oil helping out developers who were left treading water in the wake of the news.
You all came out of the woodwork suggesting feature requests, offering feedback, giving us new use cases, and in general being awesome. We hope that you’ve seen us respond in kind with our wholehearted appreciation and support, and occasionally a t-shirt or sticker thrown in.
If you’ve missed the recent digests with everything we’ve pushed out in the last few months, check out what Amie Durr and Josh Aberant have to say. But we aren’t stopping there! We’re still prioritizing new feature requests, building new tools, accepting pull requests, and more, as well as having daily conversations with you all in our Slack channel.
We know you’ve been busy as well. We know this because we’ve watched you pull together as a community, build resources to help each other out, answer each other’s questions, and submit pull request after pull request after pull request after pull request after… well, you get the idea.
On behalf of myself and all of us at SparkPost, thank you, thank you, thank you! All of your pull requests, contributions, feedback, support, and encouragement have meant the world to us. Your feedback is directly affecting our decisions, priorities, and direction as a company. After all — you’re the ones using the product! It’s been a crazy ride so far (and we know it’s not over yet!), but messages like these have kept us going, and warmed my community-loving heart:
Changing all my email to @SparkPost could not have gone smoother. You have the gratitude of this Mandrill refugee.
— Shane Gowland (@ShaneGowland) April 11, 2016
@SparkPost We integrated with you in one day, only looked at the api docs twice, and we actually simplified our existing code. You rock. ♥
— Kyle W. Cartmell (@KyleCartmell) March 18, 2016
— Per Lund (@dotper) March 11, 2016
@Sparkpost I just wanna say, you're taking this "being Mandrill's awesome replacement" thing very seriously, and I admire the crap out of it
— Silver Eagle 🦅🌹 (@SilverEagleDev) March 23, 2016
Just got amazing support from @SparkPostDev ! Thanks nick
— Pascal (@pascalschoeni) April 13, 2016
Just tried @SparkPostDev, great support, excellent infrastructure, totally recommend them!
— Nick (@NicolasGuzCa) March 8, 2016
super impressed with @SparkPostDev helping me with things… api keys, SPF/DKIM, etc. looks like @SparkPost is going to be my smtp service!
— Derick Bailey (@derickbailey) March 3, 2016
Daily sending limit raised within the hour of an email to support. I'm really digging @SparkPost more and more!
— Ramon de la Fuente (@f_u_e_n_t_e) April 18, 2016
— Josh Harms (@nozzlegear) April 18, 2016
— Harsha Vardhan (@harsham) April 19, 2016
— FeatureSwitches (@featureswitches) April 21, 2016
In short, we ♥ developers and we ♥ you. We’re all in it to make SparkPost the best possible service for our customers. And while the last 2 months have been full of all sorts of exciting developments, keep your fork — the best is yet to come! Also, if someone wants to invent an IV coffee machine and send us a prototype, I don’t think anyone would complain 😉
TL;DR: All systems are go. Here’s what you need to know to make it through the final countdown and migrate to an alternative before the Mandrill shutdown.
When Mandrill announced that they were shutting down as a stand-alone service and being rolled into MailChimp’s full-service product, a whole lot of developers took to the net to find a Mandrill alternative… and to tell us what they really needed in a developer-focused email delivery service. (Maybe you were one of them!) We listened—on Twitter, Reddit, Github—and took your feedback to heart.
New SparkPost Features to Help Developers Ahead of the Mandrill Shutdown
We knew we already had the core requirements nailed. SparkPost is just a year old, but we’d already built the industry’s highest-performing, scalable, and reliable email delivery service. As a developer-led company, we knew our APIs were a joy to use. (Really! Joy!) So, we were ready to get to work building some of the specific features and tools you and other developers asked for to make handling the Mandrill shutdown and conversion to SparkPost easier. Here are some of the highlights.
- MST3K Mandrill template converter. This Mandrill template translation tool is a lifesaver. Built by a team of engineers that went to work right away on the issue facing anyone wanting to convert off of Mandrill to SparkPost, this converter intelligently brings templates over from Mandrill to SparkPost. We’ve heard that in some cases this tool has saved around 90% of the time for dev shops to migrate. That’s awesome.
- Subaccounts. Devs spoke up and said you need subaccounts. We already had subaccounts on our roadmap, but we prioritized it to make life easier for Mandrill refugees. Our engineers went to work and released the first wave of subaccount functionality a few weeks ago. This past week, they released more. We’ve heard some innovative requests, and we’ll be rolling out more functionality around subaccounts in the coming weeks. Developer feedback is the gift that keeps on giving and we appreciate it.
- CSS inlining. CSS in email really isn’t much fun, and it turns out devs don’t like to deal with the CSS inlining requirements of email. Go figure. They’d rather a tool do that for them so we built them one.
- Forwarding service. We recently released the sp-forwarding-service for Heroku. It consumes inbound message webhooks and forwards them through SparkPost. It’s so new we haven’t even blogged about it yet! Stay tuned, and we’ll say more about it soon.
- Suppression list import. Developers who’ve been through a migration before know how important it is to bring over your current suppression lists. Our team wrote a command-line tool that makes it easy to import suppression lists from Mandrilll to SparkPost, without resorting to using the manual web UI.
- Test mode. There’s no undo when sending email. That’s why a test mode can give peace of mind while coding. You asked, and so we built it.
- Community Slack. We launched a SparkPost community Slack channel. You showed up. 👋 More devs keep joining. Community members have started helping other community members. We’re in awe of the knowledge and general awesomeness you’ve been sharing in the community channels. Thank you.
And Some Awesome Contributions from the Developer Community
The response from developers has been incredible. We’ve seen you take our platform to another level with your skills and willingness to contribute back to the community. Here’s some of the awesomeness:
- C# library. We hadn’t yet built a SparkPost C# library, but @darrencauthon on Github needed one. So, he built it and contributed it to the community.
- Drupal module. Github user @zaporylie wanted to use a SparkPost Drupal module, so he built one and gave it back it to the community.
I think you can see the pattern of community greatness. These are just a couple examples of many. Many other smart creative devs took on SparkPost for Ruby on Rails (ActionMailer; thanks @dgoerlich!) and SparkPost Python (many devs here… thanks @pegler, @mathiasose, @gnarvaja, @puttu, @svisser, @bartdag to name a few!), extended them, and made them better. There isn’t enough space in this blog post to list everyone that’s made meaningful contributions. Thanks to all these devs!
There’s one more contribution for a quick shout-out:
- Dev Chris Pitt felt there should be some video examples of programming SparkPost, so he created a set of walk-through videos. Thanks Chris, this is amazing. We heard from other users just how helpful your videos are!
With just one week left until the scheduled Mandrill shutdown, I wanted to take a breath and thank our developers and users for joining us on this journey. We’re going to keep trying our hardest to build the best and easiest to use cloud email platform, so that you can focus more on building your apps and services.
Your contributions and feedback have made SparkPost even better than before. It’s why we’re so happy to use the hashtag #WeLoveDevelopers. #AndWeDo.
P.S. Still need to do a last-minute migration to SparkPost before the Mandrill shutdown? We’ve got your back. Check out our Mandrill Migration Survival Guide for the essentials of what you need to make the transition as easy and reliable as possible.