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Creating Outlook HTML Email Templates

Technology
Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

We've had to do this from time to time in the past, and recently we were once again asked to create a set of HTML email templates for MS Outlook. When you look on the internet for the steps involved in creating such a template the majority of resources point at creating signatures or stationery. This isn't what we need, and finding the actual steps are extremely hard to come by. We are going to try to rectify that by providing the steps here.

Step 1: Creating your HTML template

Following the rules set out in the Email Standards Project and mentioned in a previous post about email templates you should create your HTML email template as you would any normal HTML page. The rules are relatively straight-forward for this. Use tables and nested tables like you would for a 1998 era web-page. No background images, limited CSS. The cool, fancy stuff you can do with CSS3 is out.

Step 2: Getting your template into Outlook

Once you've built your email template as an HTML document with all of its images and styles you'll need to open that HTML template in Internet Explorer. Once you have it displaying in IE you'll need to send it to Outlook. You can do this by opening IE's File menu and selecting Send. Hovering the Send option will give you the option of sending it as an email. Clicking this will open your new template in an Outlook Email window.

Step 3: Saving your template

This should be relatively straight-forward, however Outlook has an extraordinarily silly quirk when it comes to saving an email as a template. First you must File > Save. Wait, you're not done. Once you've saved the email you can then save the email template. Now you must File > Save As. Select the save as Outlook Template option in the selection list that appears in the dialogue that opens. You have now saved your template and can now use it.

You would think you could skip the first save step, however Outlook has its own way of doing things. You'll just have to live with it.

Xcode 5, Coda 2, and SVN

Technology
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

When the office updated to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion last year, we discovered our Coda 2 applications could not longer access our Subversion repositories. We were able to resolve this issue by installing Xcode from the App Store and then installing Xcode's command line tools.

With the recent release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks came a slew of related app updates through the App Store. Though it had been released a while earlier, one of the apps downloaded to my system was Xcode 5. Unfortunately, the next time I opened a Coda 2 project, this is the error message that appeared:

Coda 2 SVN upgrade error message

Xcode 5 comes with an updated version of Subversion that is not compatible with our Coda 2 SVN repositories. This caused us a couple headaches, but we were able to find some easy solutions.

Option 1

We checked and confirmed that our SVN servers would have no problem with the updated Subversion 1.7.x that Xcode 5 was using now. Therefore, we could go through each of our Coda 2 projects and simply update our working copies with SVN's built-in upgrade command. To do so, you need only:

  1. Open "Terminal" on your OS X system
  2. Change directories to one of your Coda 2 projects on your system. On my system, I kept them in a folder named "Sites".
  3. In that directory, run the "svn upgrade" command.

The command will automatically update the project to your current version of SVN. Now you would be able to open and sync that Coda 2 project with your Subversion servers again. There are several advantages to using Subversioonn 1.7, many of which Apple summarizes in a related developer FAQ.

The only downside is that you would have to do that with each individual Coda 2 project on your system, to convert them all over. If anyone has found a faster way, let us know!

Option 2

It turns out that Xcode did provide an older, compatible version of SVN 1.6. Instead of updating each Coda 2 project to 1.7.x, you can change Coda 2's preferences to point to this 1.6 version of SVN instead. Assuming you've downloaded XCode 5, you can:

  1. Open up the "Coda 2" app
  2. Go to "File -> Preferences -> Files"

  3. Click on the "Choose" button of the "Subversion Tool Path" option.
  4. Browse through the Finder window to: /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/subversion-1.6/bin/svn

That's it. Coda 2 will now use this older version of SVN, which should be compatible with the working copies of your SVN repositories. This is a faster solution, as it doesn't require an update of each of your Coda 2 projects, but the downside is that there's no guarantee that a future upgrade of Xcode won't remove this older SVN version.

Hopefully, whichever solution you choose saves you some headaches and gets you back to work :)