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Using MJML in Rails

Recently, I had to implement an email for the Amaphiko project. And since I won’t code email, at least not in this life, I had to find a workaround. There came MJML.

MJML introduces itself as “the responsive email framework”. Practically speaking, MJML is a markup language built on React that produces email-compliant (whatever that means) markup once compiled.

MJML comes with about 20 components to build simple newsletters (texts, images, links, buttons, columns, tables, etc.) and can be extended by leveraging the power of React for advanced usage.

Setting up MJML in Rails

Amaphiko is a Rails app. Therefore, I needed a way to integrate MJML in the Rails pipeline to be able to produce proper responsive emails based on dynamic data.

While MJML is fairly recent, I was pleased to see there already is a fresh gem to plug it into Rails, called mjml-rails.

First step would be to add it to the Gemfile.

gem 'mjml-rails', '~> 2.2.0'

The thing is, this gem is basically just a wrapper around the mjml npm package. Because of this, it needs mjml to be installed independently. You can either install it globally to avoid adding a Node.js dependency to your project:

npm install -g mjml

Or if you already use some Node.js modules, you could also just add it to your package.json file:

npm install --save mjml

Building a MJML-powered email

Let’s create a very simple email through MJML to illustrate this article.

First thing, in app/mailers, we create a foobar_mailer.rb file:

# ./app/mailers/foobar_mailer.rb

class FoobarMailer < ActionMailer::Base
  def baz(name)
    @name = name

    mail(to: 'test@example.com', subject: 'test') do |format|
      format.mjml
    end
  end
end

Then in app/views, we create a foobar_mailer folder, containing a file named after our action baz. This file has to be a .mjml file.

<!-- ./app/views/foobar_mailer/baz.mjml -->

<mjml>
  <mj-body>
    <mj-container>
      <mj-text>Hello <%= @name %></mj-text>
    </mj-container>
  </mj-body>
</mjml>

That’s it! 🎉

Rendering a MJML partial

When the mail gets a bit long or repetitive, it might be interesting to leverage the power of ERB to have separate files, and render them inside the main template. For instance, each section of the newsletter could live in its own file.

Consider the following header (taken from MJML documentation):

<!-- ./app/views/foobar_mailer/_foobar_header.mjml -->

<mj-hero
  mode="fixed-height"
  height="469px"
  background-width="600px"
  background-height="469px"
  background-url="https://cloud.githubusercontent.com/assets/1830348/15354890/1442159a-1cf0-11e6-92b1-b861dadf1750.jpg"
  background-color="#2a3448"
  padding="100px 0px">

  <mj-hero-content width="100%">

    <mj-text
      padding="20px"
      color="#ffffff"
      font-family="Helvetica"
      align="center"
      font-size="45"
      line-height="45"
      font-weight="900">
      GO TO SPACE
    </mj-text>

    <mj-button href="https://mjml.io/" align="center">
      ORDER YOUR TICKET NOW
    </mj-button>

  </mj-hero-content>

</mj-hero>

Then in the mail template:

<!-- ./app/views/foobar_mailer/baz.mjml -->

<mjml>
  <mj-body>
    <mj-container>
      <!-- Email header -->
      <%= render partial: 'foobar_header', formats: [:html] %>
  
      <!-- Email content -->
      <mj-text>Hello <%= @name %></mj-text>
    </mj-container>
  </mj-body>
</mjml>

Note that:

Wrapping things up

MJML is such a fantastic tool to build responsive email newsletters without the hassle and I am super happy to see a proper and simple Rails integration.

No longer will you struggle integrating a newsletter!

Hugo Giraudel’s avatar

Hugo Giraudel is a CSS goblin, Sass hacker, and serial writer who used to work at Edenspiekermann (Berlin) as a front-end developer.