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Louis Kessler's Behold Blog » Blog Entry           prev Prev   Next next

Almost Newsworthy - Sat, 13 Mar 2010

Two and a half weeks it took. But finally, I’ve got a decent Newsletter system set up that should work.

I cancelled Dewahost (they were nice about it - but I still wonder why they never responded to my queries) and signed up with LuxSci’s High Volume SMTP service.

Then I went about trying to set up some newsletter templates for phpList to work with it. I complained about the user interface of phpList a few blog posts ago. Now I needed to customize the inner workings of phpList to work with my list my way. Then I realized it wasn’t just the user interface of phpList that was terrible. The code itself was just as bad. There was no way I wanted to work with it. Sometimes, this is what happens to Open Source tools, and it’s often better to buy one that one person develops and has a stake in.

So a bit of research and I came up with Simple PHP Newsletter System (SPNS). It’s smaller and simpler and has code I can read that I can customize where needed.

I converted its database over to use my user list, and hooked it up to use LuxSci. It took about a week to get that working. Apparently I hadn’t fully registered the Behold bounce email address with LuxSci, but once that was done, test newsletters started flowing.

Now I had to redo a template for the look of the Newsletter. This would serve double-duty and also be the template for Behold’s help file. SPNS pointed me to a very nice template that I looked at and fell in love with. I purchased it. But when I tried it out, the background and graphics file was made up of big graphic files. I wanted to minimize those in my emails. And I didn’t have the graphic skills to convert my website header into something that would work with that design.

So I took that template and used parts of it and ended up with a cross between the old newsletter, the help file and the new website. It’s simple and clean and keeps my light blue and yellow pastel backgrounds - which add a bit of softness. I think that is better than grey text which does the same thing but is harder to read.

Finally I had to change my subscribe, purchase and unsubscribe scripts to work with the new system. Then I tested the newsletter system and see that the bounce handling works.

It seems close to ready to go. Next I’ll write up my newsletter and send it out and I’ll be off and communicating again.

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