I Spent All Afternoon Writing One E-Mail Message

No, I did not have writers block or a novel to compose. Actually the email question was not even mine, but written to be sent under someone else’s name. Could this be Alan’s Secret Neutron Bomb that would eviscerate spammers?

Nahhhh, ya must be dreamin’.

Now, these are some messages that get generated from our 100% online Learning Grants applications system. This is an internal grants program that faculty and staff from our college apply for on a yearly basis, and we are in our 5th year of having this online. The entire application, review, and notification is done on our web site, another brilliant system developed by Colen, my former student programmer who also did most of the back end work on the Maricopa Learning eXchange.

The Learning Grant application period closed at 6:00 PM last Friday, meaning many of the grants came in… a bit before 6:00 PM last Friday- actually we had 67 proposals, asking for $420,000 out of a budget we have of $185,000. The next phase is where our project manager uses a web-based admin tool to assign readers from a pool to each grant, and notifcations are sent to readers. They then log in to the system, and complete their grant reviews online.

The troublesome email was one we send to each colleges’ Dean of Instruction as a summary of the proposals from their particular college, as well as cc:ed to a list of faculty developers at each site. Scripting an e-mail to send out via PHP is easy, but this one needs to chug through the database, select out the grant details from this year, create an HTML message with a pretty chart, and then make sure it goes to the correct people. Then there are custom isntructions for these people to know how to log in tot he site. These are the sorts of things one does not want to have OOPs messages and messy follow-ups, so there were several rounds of tests to he screen, then test emails to ourselves, one gack mistake that fortunately ended up in the dead mail bin, and finally, by 5:00 PM they went out okay.

Wow, scripted emails can be complex, do spammers work this hard? ;-)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.