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Responsive Email Developer's Guide for Magento EE 1.14.1 and Magento CE 1.9.1

by Erik Hansen

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Table of Contents

Introduction

We improved transactional emails and newsletter templates in Magento Enterprise 1.14.1 and Magento Community 1.9.1 in a number of ways, including:

noteNote: This article focuses on responsive emails but the same techniques can be used for newsletter templates as well. For more information about newsletter templates, see Using Updated Newsletter Templates.

Using cron to Send Emails

Starting in Magento EE 1.14.1 and CE 1.9.1, your Magento cron job sends all emails, including transactional emails. You must configure cron for emails to work.

For more information, see Setting Up Cron Jobs.

Supported Email Clients and Devices

We tested responsive emails using a combination of real devices and Litmus. Due to the greatly varied level of support among email clients for modern web technologies, not all email clients rendered the emails perfectly. However, all of the following clients should render the emails in a manner that allows them to be easily read without obvious issues. Refer to the following sections for more information.

Supported Desktop Clients

Operating system Clients supported
OS X 10.8 Apple Mail 6
OS X 10.7 Outlook 2011
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Outlook 2013
  • Outlook 2010
  • Outlook 2007
  • Outlook 2003

Supported Mobile Clients

Operating system Clients supported
Android 4.2 ("Jelly Bean") Native email app
Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") Native email app
Gmail App (Android 4.2) Native email app
Blackberry 5 OS Native email app
iOS 8
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 7
  • iPad (Retina)
  • iPad Mini
  • iPhone 5s
iOS 6 Mail on these devices:
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4s

Supported Web Clients

Email application Browsers supported*
AOL Mail
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
Gmail
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
Yahoo! Mail
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
Outlook.com
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer

*The latest version of each browser was used for testing.

Important Information about Upgrading

This section applies to anyone who used transactional emails in a version earlier than EE 1.14.1 or CE 1.9.1.

After upgrading from an earlier Magento version, you should preview your transactional emails, looking for changes in the logo, fonts, and styles. Because of changes introduced in this release, you might notice some differences.

Also, in CE 1.9.1 and EE 1.14.1 for the first time, you must specify a height and width for your logo image; the dimensions must be set to the area in which the logo displays. For more information, see Using a High-Resolution Logo.

Customizing the Header or Footer in Transactional Emails

In earlier Magento CE and EE versions, each transactional email template contained a copy of the HTML for the header and footer. To make it easier to customize transactional emails, the header and footer HTML is now centralized in the following template files:

The header and footer template files get included in the transactional emails using a new template directive. For an example of how this works, open app/locale/en_US/template/email/account_new.html. It contains two directives that include header.html and footer.html:

{{template config_path="design/email/header"}}
{{template config_path="design/email/footer"}}
You can customize the header and footer as discussed in the following sections:

Customizing Header and Footer Templates Using Files

If you can access the Magento server file system, you can customize the header and footer by editing the following files:

noteNote: To make changes to the templates at the website or store view configuration scopes, see the next section.

Customizing Header and Footer Templates Using the Magento Admin Panel

You must use the Magento Admin Panel to customize header and footer templates if any of the following are true:

The example discussed in the following sections shows how to customize the header template. You can use the same procedure to customize the footer as well.

Using custom templates is a two-step process: first, define the template, and second, specify the website or store view on which it's used. See one of the following sections for more information:

Customizing the Template in the Admin Panel

  1. Log in to the Magento Admin Panel as an administrator.
  2. Click System > Transactional Emails.
  3. On the Transactional Emails page, click Add New Template.
  4. From the Template list, click Email - Header.
  5. From the Locale list, click the template's locale.
  6. Click Load Template.
  7. Enter the following information:
    Item Description
    Template Name field Enter a name for the new template, such as My Header
    Template Subject field Ignore; this field isn't used.
    Insert Variable Button Click to see a list of variables to insert. For more information about variables, see the Magento User Guide.
    Template Content field Enter the contents of your email template.
    Template Styles field Ignore; this field is not supported when customizing the header and footer templates.

    The following figure shows an example:
  8. Click Preview Template to look at the HTML code in a separate browser tab page or window, or click Save Template to save it.

Using the Template in a Website or Store View

This section discusses how to use the email template you just created in the global configuration, a website, or a store view.

To use this template:

  1. In the Admin Panel, click System > Configuration > GENERAL > Design.
  2. From the Current Configuration Scope in the upper left corner, click the scope.
    Initially, the template is associated with Default Config, which means it applies to all websites and store views. You can optionally associate it with a specific website or store view by selecting it from the list.
    The following example shows how to associate a template with the Madison Island English store view.
  3. In the right pane, click Transactional Emails to expand it.
  4. From the Email Header Template list, click the header template you created earlier.
    The following figure shows an example:
  5. Click Save Config in the upper right corner of the page.

Now transactional emails use the header or footer template you created.

Customizing CSS Styles for Emails

CSS styles for transactional emails are "inlined" on each HTML tag because many email clients require it.

CE 1.9.1 and EE 1.14.1 simplifies the way you customize email templates by locating all CSS styles in separate CSS files. When transactional emails are sent, the CSS styles are loaded from the separate CSS files and are "inlined" in the HTML before being sent.

Inlining is done using the Emogrifier library, which takes the HTML and CSS and adds all of the CSS styles to <style> attributes on the HTML tags.

The CSS for the emails is contained in the following Sass files:

As you might expect, these two files compile to skin/frontend/rwd/default/css/email-inline.css and skin/frontend/rwd/default/css/email-non-inline.css, respectively. If you're not familiar with how to work with Sass files, refer to the RWD theme documentation.

Using Inline Styles to Customize Email CSS

The email-inline.css file contains all of the styles that the Emogrifier class applies to the HTML before an email is sent. Magento applies only these styles to an email template if it contains this new directive:

{{inlinecss file="email-inline.css"}}
Notice that the templates in app/locale/en_US/template/email/ include this directive in each email template. The directive enables you to specify CSS that loads from the current storefront's theme and is inlined on that template.

The directive supports the standard Magento fallback hierarchy, which means that if the email-inline.css can't be found in the store's theme, Magento looks in each of the parent themes until a match is found. (A sample theme directory is skin/frontend/custompackage/customtheme/css/email-inline.css)

Refer to the Emogrifier README to see what CSS selectors are supported.

noteNote: The {{inlinecss file=""}} directive can be used a single time and cannot be used in templates that get included by other templates (for example, app/locale/en_US/template/email/html/header.html and app/locale/en_US/template/email/html/footer.html).

Using Non-Inline Styles to Customize Email CSS

There are certain CSS styles that can't be applied inline, such as media queries styles. These styles must be in a <style type="text/css"></style> tag.

To understand how non-inline styles are included, see line 7 in app/locale/en_US/template/email/html/header.html:

The variable {{var non_inline_styles}} loads CSS from several sources:

After the CSS is loaded, it's wrapped in a <style type="text/css"></style> tag and is assigned to the non_inline_styles variable.

noteNote: When you are writing "non-inline" CSS, you must add the !important declaration after each property so the style has a high enough specificity to get applied. This is the best way to get your custom styles to override styles defined in the email-inline.css file.

For the logo in your email to look optimal on high-resolution devices such as retina displays, you must use a logo that is at least two times larger than the area in which you want it to display. For example, let's say your email has a 200px × 100px area for the logo. The logo image must be at least 400px × 200px.

If you don't have access to a high-resolution version of your logo, you can upload a normal-resolution image. For example, if your logo image is 200px × 100px, specify 200 for the width and 100 for the height.

Upgrade Considerations

This section applies to you if you upgraded to CE 1.9.1 or EE 1.14.1 from an earlier version.

In CE 1.19.1 and EE 1.14.1 for the first time, transactional email templates specify the width and height of the area in which the logo displays. Therefore, if you use transactional emails, you must configure your templates with a logo height and width as discussed in the next section.

For example, suppose the area in which the logo displays is 200px × 100px. Specify 200 for height and 100 for width even if the physical dimensions of the logo are larger.

Adding a High-Resolution Logo

You can add your logo to transactional emails in either of the following ways:

Updating a High-Resolution Logo Using the File System

If you can access the Magento server file system, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the skin directory for your store (for example, skin/frontend/custompackage/customtheme/).
  2. Save the logo image as logo_email.gif in the skin directory (for example, skin/frontend/custompackage/customtheme/images/logo_email.gif).
  3. Open app/locale/en_US/template/email/html/header.html in a text editor.
  4. Update the width and height attributes to reflect the area in which you want your logo to display (for example, 200px × 100px).
    A snippet follows:
    <img
        {{if logo_width}}
        width="{{var logo_width}}"
        {{else}}
        width="200"
        {{/if}}
    
        {{if logo_height}}
        height="{{var logo_height}}"
        {{else}}
        height="100"
        {{/if}}
    
        src="{{var logo_url}}"
        alt="{{var logo_alt}}"
        border="0"/>
noteNote: To use a file type other than GIF or if you need to upload unique logos for different websites, stores, or store views, see the next section.

Updating a High-Resolution Logo Using the Admin Panel

You can update your high-resolution logo using the Admin Panel if any of the following are true:

To upload a high-resolution logo using the Admin Panel:

  1. Log in to the Magento Admin Panel as an administrator.
  2. Click System > Configuration > GENERAL > Design.
  3. From the Current Configuration Scope in the upper left corner, click the scope to display the logo.
    Initially, the logo is associated with Default Config, which means it applies to all websites and store views. You can optionally associate it with a specific website or store view by selecting it from the list.
    The following example shows how to associate a logo with the Madison Island English store view.
  4. In the right pane, click Transactional Emails to expand it.
  5. Enter the following information:
    Item Description
    Logo Image Click Browse and browse to locate the logo image.
    Delete Image checkbox Select the checkbox to delete the current logo image. Ignore the other fields.
    Logo Image Alt field Enter alternate text to display if the image is not available. For a logo, it's typically the name of your company.
    Logo Width field Enter the numeric width, in pixels, of the area in which to display the image (not the dimensions of the logo image).
    Logo Height field Enter the numeric height, in pixels, of the area in which to display the image (not the dimensions of the logo image).

    The following figure shows an example.
  6. Click Save Config in the upper right corner of the page.

Using Contact Information in Transaction Emails

Transactional emails can output your store email address, store phone number, and store hours of operation if those values are configured in the Admin Panel. To set those values:

  1. Log in to the Magento Admin Panel as an administrator.
  2. To set the phone number and hours of operation:
    1. Click System > Configuration > GENERAL > General.
    2. In the right pane, click Store Information to expand it.
    3. If you want to include a phone number, input the phone number in the Store Contact Telephone field.
    4. If you want to include your hours of operation, input them in the Store Hours of Operation field.
  3. To set the store email address:
    1. Click System > Configuration > GENERAL > Store Email Addresses.
    2. In the right pane, click General Contact or Sales Representative to expand it.
    3. In the Sender Name field, input the name that you want the email to be sent from, such as your company name.
    4. In the Sender Email field, input the email address.
  4. When you're finished, click Save Config in the upper right corner of the page.

Localizing Transactional Emails

Only the en_US templates were updated to the new responsive email structure. To use the responsive emails for other locales, copy the en_US/template/email/ directory into the respective app/locale/[LOCALE CODE] directory and update the text strings to that locale.

Using Updated Newsletter Templates

The focus of this article is on transactional emails but the same techniques can be used with newsletter templates as well, including:

In the Magento Admin Panel, go to Newsletter > Newsletter Templates and look at the template named Example Newsletter Template. We added this template as a reference for how to build a responsive newsletter.

Getting Help

If you encounter issues customizing email templates, contact Magento Support. Another option is to post your question on the community magento.stackexchange.com site and tag it with rwd-email and rwd-theme.