Getting started with Maildown

From installation to sending your first email

Introduction

Maildown is a command line interface that lets you send emails using Amazon AWS SES with a minimum of fuss.

Why can’t I just use boto3?

Maildown makes it easier to add structure and style to your email content. It supports Markdown syntax out of the box, meaning that you can just send Markdown files as emails with no additional effort.

How much does it cost?

Maildown is open source and therefore completely free. It relies on Amazon SES, which isn’t completely free, but it does let you send up to 62,000 free emails per month (when sent from an EC2 instance). So for vast majority of people, Maildown costs nothing to run.

Installation and usage

Pre requisites

In order to use Maildown, you first need to create an AWS free tier account here. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll also realistically need to take your AWS SES account out of the sandbox

Install with pip

You can install maildown as follows:

pip install maildown

Authenticating Maildown

Maildown stores your credentials locally for convenience. Before you can use Maildown’s features, you should run the maildown init command

maildown init AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY

If you have previously used the aws cli and have already run aws configure, or if you have set the environment variables AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY in your environment, you can just use maildown init with no arguments to store your credentials

Verify email addresses

Amazon only lets you send emails from verified email addresses - In other words, you need to verify that you own your email address before you can send mails from it. You can either do this from the SES console, or by using Maildown:

$ maildown verify christopherdavies553@gmail.com
Email sent to christopherdavies553@gmail.com. You must click the link in this email to verify ownership before you can send any emails

When you use the above command, AWS will send an email to the email address you provided. You’ll need to click on the link to verify your ownership of the account. Once you’ve done this, you can repeat the previous command to check the status

$ maildown verify christopherdavies553@gmail.com
This email address has already been verified

You are now ready to start sending emails!

Sending emails

You can now send emails with the following command

maildown send christopherdavies553@gmail.com "my email subject" -f "email.md" recipient1@gmail.com recipient2@gmail.com

The above arguments, in order, are:

Adding context to your emails

It’s also possible to add context to your emails. For example, you can add syntax like this to your Markdown emails:

# Hello {{ name  or "there" }}

You can then pass the name argument to your emails as follows:

maildown send christopherdavies553@gmail.com "my email subject" -e name=Chris -f "email.md" recipient1@gmail.com 

This will be rendered as Hello Chris when you send your email. If you do not provide this context, it will render as Hello there, as you set the default fallback value to there in this instance.

To see the full set of what’s possible in your Markdown emails, see advanced template syntax

Styling emails

By default, Maildown bakes in its own default style sheet when sending emails. This looks something like this (the below email is the content of this project’s Github readme):

screenshot

You can apply your own styles by simply using the --theme flag when sending mails, like this:

maildown send christopherdavies553@gmail.com "my email subject" -f "email.md" --theme "my-style.css" recipient1@gmail.com recipient2@gmail.com