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Friday, August 16, 2002

Sending an automated email response

The preparation that went into setting up a form starts to pay off once you begin adding extra features to your commenting system, using Xara Modules. This item shows how to add an automated email response that is sent out to anyone who submits a comment. This is an optional feature (for example, you shouldn't use it if you want to allow people to add comments without leaving their email address), but it's a nice touch if you want to present a responsive image, and it only takes a minute or two. Here's how to set it up:

  1. On the left-hand menu of your module store, Select Data Manager — Mailer — Create New. This will take you straight to the mailer editor.
  2. To the right of the "To:" field in the Email Header section, click on the 'connect' button. This will set up the connection to the comments form:
    1. You'll see a screen showing all the suitable modules in your module store. Click on the icon for the form you want the email to respond to.
    2. The next screen shows a list of all the connectable fields in the form, as pictured right (click thumbnail for larger version). Click on the connect button next to 'email'.
    3. Back in the mailer module, you'll see that the blank field in the "To:" line has been replaced by a message telling you which form and fieldname it's connected to.

  3. Put some standard wording in the other two header fields, such as the name of your website for the 'from name', and "Thank you for your comment" as the subject.
  4. Fill in a standard message in the "Email content" section. Remember you can use the mail merge feature to personalize the message with fields from the connected form — the available fields are listed under the "Mail Merge" heading further down the page. For example, you could compose a message that reads, "Hi [[fname]]. Thank you for submitting a comment to our site. We are always pleased to receive feedback. If you require a response, be assured you'll hear from me within the next working day. Your comment was as follows: [[comment]]"
  5. Remember to give the mailer a suitable name in the small white box at the top right of the screen, and then click the 'save and publish' button.

Having set up the mailer, the only other thing you need to do is to make the email address a required field on the form (if you don't do this and a visitor leaves the field blank when submitting a comment, they'll see an error message warning of an invalid email address). Here's all you have to do:

  1. In your module store, click on the icon for the form
  2. Click on the 'edit cell' button in the corner of the email address field
  3. In the popup editing window that appears, check the 'Required field' box, and then click OK to close the window
  4. Click on the 'save and publish' button in the top right-hand corner of the screen to finish

posted by Phil 2:45 AM (GMT) | comments | link

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