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Creating a TWiki Newsletter Appplication

For introducing TWiki into a group or organization, it would useful to have a "TWiki Newsletter" application that uses a bit of "push" technology to make users aware of the content that available in the TWiki site. Specifically, I am proposing create a newsletter application within TWiki along the following lines:

  • Create a regular TWiki topic that's formatted as a newsletter. I.e. present the first paragraph of some "feature" stories (with links to entire article) along with abreviated lists of recently changed topics of a particular type (such as discussion topics).
  • Send this topic as a complex html email, perhaps with a special skin.
  • Send it out either through a regular listserv or through some twiki mechanism like WebNotify that can provide a list of users/groups.

While this idea has some similarities to WebNotify, it is different in one essential aspect: it allows for more flexible and user-friendly layout of the information that is sent out. I envision a typical newsletter layout with headlind and introductory paragraphs and then links to the site to read the full article (topic). There could also be sidebars with list of recently changed topics, etc.

So, the core functionality needed to implement this are:

  • Ability to send out a specific topic as an HTML email.
  • Ability to identify a list of TWiki users and/or groups as recipients.
  • Ability to set a schedule for the topic to be mailed out.

At present, the hurtles I see to implementing this are:

  • I'd like to have a linked TOC in the newsletter. Currently, standard twiki TOCs are absolute rather than relative links. I'd want the newsletter to relative TOC links, otherwise when folks click on a TOC item in the email newsletter, it would bump them to the web page rather than to that section of the email. (Later note: I think this problem has been solved since I originally posted this, but haven't confirmed this yet.)
  • Sending out complex HTML emails. I created MailPageAddOn in an effort to solve this piece, but I'd like this to be more automated.
  • There is currently no mechanism except webnotify to send out emails to a particular group.

I tried to make the case to CrawfordCurrie that these features should be added to MailNotify but he's convinced me otherwise.

Note: I originally posted most of these thoughts in TWikiNewsletter but acknowledged that I was attempting to hijack that topic name for a subject that was different than the original poster's intent. That's why I've moved, edited, and expanded the ideas in this new topic.

-- LynnwoodBrown - 04 Oct 2006

-- Contributors: LynnwoodBrown - 04 Oct 2006

Discussion

I'm extremely pleased to announce that CrawfordCurrie agreed to my request to incorporate this feature into MailerContrib and has already implemented it! thumbs up It's now checked into SVN and should soon be posted to MailerContrib. Look for a TWiki-based newsletter to come to your community in the near future!

-- LynnwoodBrown - 06 Oct 2006

I would very much like to see a few screenshots of this thing in action, from TWiki topic/process to the e-mail in the Inbox.

This one-way communication is a bit strange to me, but I'd like to know more about what can be gained from it.

-- SteffenPoulsen - 06 Oct 2006

I can see it's use in our organization: the information from Development, QA, SCM and Support can be nicely formated and distributed (pushed) to all the stakeholders in a simple way.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 07 Oct 2006

Rafael has exactly the idea i have in mind. I'll soon be creating a newsletter for the co-housing community where I live and will post some screen shots from it.

-- LynnwoodBrown - 07 Oct 2006

So, I see NewsNotify is in MailNotify now, but running with the "-news" flag produces no output (either cmdline or via email). Are there additional installation steps that need to be documented and performed?

-- SamHoward - 20 Apr 2007

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TopicClassification BrainstormingIdea
TopicSummary Create newsletter application in TWiki that sends out a formatted topic as html email to set of users/groups.
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RelatedTopics TWikiNewsletter
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Topic revision: r6 - 2007-04-20 - SamHoward
 
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