Contributing to the Email Community via Can I Email?
If you are a developer building HTML emails, you most likely refer to Can I Email? to verify what HTML or CSS features are supported in email clients. It is an invaluable resource for HTML email developers. But did you know that contributing to Can I Email? can make you a better developer?
What is Can I Email?
Can I Email? is an open-source project and is available on GitHub. This means any developer can submit changes to this project via what is called a “pull request”, which gives the maintainer the chance to review, discuss and merge changes to the project.
Developers at Flourish occasionally contribute to this project. In fact, three of our developers were named in Can I Email?’s July 2022 updates post.
Gaining a deeper understanding of HTML and CSS for email
Testing a web feature in an email client and verifying its level of support is not a small task.
It may involve writing a test that covers all uses of a feature, preferably in all valid syntaxes. This alone forces the developer to read through technical documentation. As a result, the developer gains a deeper understanding of a feature and its uses. This helps developers to gain further experience in email building for different purposes and gain a much deeper understanding of HTML and CSS features. For instance, when reading technical CSS documentation, you are likely to be presented with more abstract concepts such as CSS data types. Our development team have found their contributions to Can I Email? useful when it comes to improving best practice for our client projects.
Comfortable with the unfamiliar
The nature of tasks required to contribute to Can I Email? enables developers everywhere, including those at Flourish, to become more comfortable with reading technical documentation. This leads to developers becoming more comfortable, not just with reading technical documentation relating to unfamiliar HTML and CSS features, but also working with unfamiliar technologies. Using this platform as a way to gain experience, practice and learn, enables increased levels of self-evaluation and setting aside time for new skills that they can easily pick up and use for future projects.
This extends to technologies other than HTML and CSS. In the world of email, for example, a developer is likely to write templates for different sender tools in different templating languages. One of the first things you should expect a developer to ask for when they are tasked with using a new templating language, is a link to the official documentation.
Version control and source code management
If you are a developer and not using ‘Git’, you are missing out. ‘Git’ is a version control system that helps you track changes and manage the source code in a project. It helps you to efficiently collaborate with other developers on a single project.
If you are not using ‘Git’ in your day-to-day work already, a huge side benefit to contributing to Can I Email? would be exposing yourself to this game-changing system and learning its basics. You would be gaining an evergreen skill that is required for a wide range of development projects and helping to better the practices used in your client projects.
Be part of the community
Instead of only reserving a part of your brain to store findings from your development tests, a better approach is to document your findings somewhere, and Can I Email? is a perfect place for this.
By recording your findings on Can I Email?, you are not only storing this information for yourself, you are also documenting this for other developers, which will inevitably help to contribute to overall best practice within the email and development community.
This article has been contributed to by the Flourish development team, including Lead Developer Hussein Alhammad, also joint founder of the Email Markup Consortium. As an agency, the Flourish team are always working to improve best practice in email development, to provide the best possible experience for our clients and their customers. If you’re interested in finding out more about our best practice guide or need some help to develop the best possible email campaigns for your customer journey, get in touch.