Today I am excited to announce the first release of HEML, an open source markup language for crafting clean, responsive emails.


If you’re not familiar with writing HTML emails, it can be a painful process. A few months ago I started to play with some exciting interactive developments on the front end. I found the bottleneck wasn’t sending or testing the email, but simply building the email itself. At our next company hackathon, I took the opportunity to solve this problem, and thus HEML was born.

Each element in HEML renders into email-ready HTML so that you can send without worry. HEML also works to iron out CSS bugs and limitations of different email clients. An excellent example of one such bug is an obscure issue in Lotus Notes where if you use RGB decimal value, the entire style declaration will be ignored. HEML will handle that bug for you.

Our Goals

We wanted HEML to help make email more accessible to developers. The idea is for developers to jump in quickly and build their emails without wrestling with Outlook (or any other email inbox). To do this, we focused on three things.

Native feel

We wanted HEML to look and feel like HTML. As a result, it mirrors HTML as closely as possible and uses plain ol’ CSS for styling.

Forward Thinking

HEML doesn’t limit you from taking advantage of all that HTML and CSS can do. It encourages progressive enhancements. Email doesn’t have to look the same everywhere.


HEML lets you create your custom elements, share them, and pull in other elements made by the community.

Using HEML

There are a couple of different ways to use HEML.

Get started quickly using our editor at

To use it locally, install it with:

Create your HEML email in email.heml:

and run:

That starts a development server that will auto-reload your browser whenever you make a change.

Once you’re ready to send your email into the wild, run:

This generates an email.html  file that is ready to be sent.

Give it a spin!

This is our take on a difficult problem. It doesn’t solve every problem presented by email, but it can help you create solutions for your unique email challenges. There has been amazing work done to simplify this challenge by MJML, Foundation for Email, and many others. We hope you find this equally as helpful!

So give it a try! Hopefully, it makes your life easier. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or bugs, let us know.


Happy Coding!

Avi, Developer Advocate


C# library community feature

The community of developers working with SparkPost really has stepped up in the last few months: submitting pull requests, writing new client libraries, finding bugs, and helping each other out in our community Slack. They say you are the company you keep—well, if even a small bit of your collective awesomeness rubs off on us, we’ll know we’ve made it. 🙂

We’d like to show a little bit of love in return by highlighting some of the community members who’ve helped raise the bar for SparkPost and our tools. Today, I’ll start with Darren Cauthon, who contributed the SparkPost C# client library. I asked Darren to share a little bit of his point of view.

How long have you been a developer and what got you started in the tech world?

I’ve been a developer for over 15 years. I got started with tech in my sophomore year, right around the time my college forces students to pick a major. I thought about being a music teacher or going for a general “business” degree, but I remembered that programming in QA Basic in junior high was fun. So I signed up for my first C++ class and never looked back.

What do you like most about being a developer?

Working with all types of people to solve new problems. The tech is fun, but using it to solve actual problems that exist in reality makes it very fulfilling.

What led you to contribute to open source projects?

Two things. First, I got over the fear that my code wasn’t good enough. Second, I’ve found it’s hard to grow as a developer when I’m limited to solving the problems that my business has. Open source provides the opportunity to solve problems that I’d otherwise never think to solve, and it provides a chance to work with developers I’d otherwise never know.

How did you find SparkPost?

My company was about to deploy a new Mandrill solution when their big shakeup occurred. We looked for alternatives, and my boss noticed SparkPost due to your relationship with Port25 (which we used for other solutions).

What prompted you to create the C# client library for us?

I saw there wasn’t one, and I wanted the experience of writing the library. I’ve learned a lot about email processing and C# features while working on the library, and that’s knowledge I’d never have gained otherwise. I’ll be able to apply that knowledge to many more things than just this library.

What’s the hardest thing about contributing to an open source project?

Saying “no” to contributors. Sometimes someone may offer a pull request with a feature or change that doesn’t fit. I hate having to say “no” and reject what another developer has spent time writing. But luckily I haven’t had that problem with this library, as we’ve had a great group of developers contribute new features—and every contribution has fit.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I have a great family, and raising kids is fun. I’ve been a tuba player for over twenty years, and I’m slowly working towards a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do. I have a 2016 resolution to beat Ninja Gaiden without dying, so I like older console gaming. But my first passion is still programming.

I was really glad to have a chance to talk with Darren and learn more about his point of view. His project really has been a great addition to the ways folks can use SparkPost. Thanks, Darren!

Do you have an idea or project to contribute to this great community of developers? Give us a shout on the SparkPost community Slack, and you might wind up in our new community features series.


p.s. you can check out another one of Darren’s C# libraries here.

We may have celebrated our best email marketing blog posts in 2013 in January, but we’re not done with 2013 yet! That’s right, the fun’s not over. This week, we’re releasing the Top 10 Email Marketing Best Practices eReads in 2013 as indicated by our readers!

Well perhaps “email marketing” is a bit of a misnomer – after all, the list includes mobile marketing as well – serving as a clarion call and reminder that a comprehensive digital messaging strategy includes both email and mobile marketing.

But enough prattle, let’s move on to what everyone’s really here for! Without further ado, here are the top email mobile marketing downloads in 2013:

10. Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook

Want some great examples of brands who are getting transactional emails right and effectively up-selling and cross-selling their products? This is the eBook for you. Find out how brands like eBay, Zappos and  Redbox are killing it on transactional emails!

9. How DMARC is Saving Email eBook

We saw DKIM authentication making several appearances on our list of Top 10 Best Email Marketing Blog Posts last month – little wonder that our eBook on DMARC is ranking in the 9th position! Here’s everything you ever needed to know about DMARC… and more.

8. 10 Steps to Mobile Messaging guide

And here’s our first mobile related entry on the list! When email went mobile messaging went supernova – there’s no excuse for the lack of a mobile marketing strategy, so here are 10 steps to get you started on mobile marketing.

7. The Six Secrets of Successful Senders guide

Pssstt… here’s something that isn’t a secret. Our Six Secrets of Successful Senders guide is free for download. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Get it now!

6. The High Cost of Free Messaging Software

Yea I know, the word “free” stops me in my tracks too. But unlike our eReads, not everything for free is a good deal. Yep, you heard it first from us… here’s why free open-source messaging software, may sometimes end up costing your enterprise a whole lot more.

… And that’s it for the top email mobile marketing eReads ranked from the 10th to 6th position in 2013! Up next week, your fave five email mobile marketing eReads!