Templates

In Mailman 3.1 a new template system was introduced to allow for maximum flexibility in the format and content of messages sent by and through Mailman. For example, when a new member joins a list, a welcome message is sent to that member. The welcome message is created from a template found by a URL associated with a template name and a context.

So if for example, you want to include links to pages on you website, you can create a custom template, make it available via download from a URL, and then associate that URL with a mailing list’s welcome message. Some standard placeholders can be defined in the template, and these will be filled in by Mailman when the welcome message is sent.

The URL itself can have placeholders, and this allows for additional flexibility when looking up the content.

Examples

Let’s say you have a mailing list:

>>> ant = create_list('ant@example.com')

The standard welcome message doesn’t have any links to it because by default Mailman doesn’t know about any web user interface front-end. When Anne is subscribed to the mailing list, she sees this plain welcome message.

>>> anne = subscribe(ant, 'Anne')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Anne Person <aperson@example.com>
...

Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list!

To post to this list, send your email to:

  ant@example.com

You can make such adjustments via email by sending a message to:

  ant-request@example.com

with the word 'help' in the subject or body (don't include the
quotes), and you will get back a message with instructions.  You will
need your password to change your options, but for security purposes,
this email is not included here.  If you have forgotten your password you
will need to click on the 'Forgot Password?' link on the login page.

Let’s say though that you wanted to provide a link to a Code of Conduct in the welcome message. You publish both the code of conduct and the welcome message pointing to the code on your website. Now you can tell the mailing list to use this welcome message instead of the default one.

>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/lists/ant.example.com/uris', {
...     'list:user:notice:welcome': 'http://localhost:8180/welcome_1.txt',
...     }, method='PATCH')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

The name of the template corresponding to the welcome message is list:user:notice:welcome and the location of your new welcome message text is at http://localhost:8180/welcome_1.txt.

Now when a new member subscribes to the mailing list, they’ll see the new welcome message.

>>> bill = subscribe(ant, 'Bill')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Bill Person <bperson@example.com>
...

Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list!

To post to this list, send your email to:

  ant@example.com

There is a Code of Conduct for this mailing list which you can view at
http://www.example.com/code-of-conduct.html

It’s even possible to require a username and password (Basic Auth) for retrieving the welcome message.

>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/lists/ant.example.com/uris', {
...     'list:user:notice:welcome': 'http://localhost:8180/welcome_2.txt',
...     'username': 'anne',
...     'password': 'is special',
...     }, method='PATCH')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

The username and password will be used to retrieve the welcome text.

>>> cris = subscribe(ant, 'Cris')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Cris Person <cperson@example.com>
...

I'm glad you made it!

The text is cached so subsequent uses don’t necessarily need to hit the internet.

>>> dave = subscribe(ant, 'Dave')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Dave Person <dperson@example.com>
...

I'm glad you made it!

Template format

Mailman expects the templates to be return as content type text/plain; charset=”UTF-8”.

Template URLs can be any of the following schemes:

  • http:// - standard scheme supported by the requests library;
  • https:// - standard scheme also supported by requests;
  • file:/// - any path on the local file system; UTF-8 contents by default;
  • mailman:/// - a path defined within the Mailman source code tree. It is not recommended that you use these; they are primarily provided for Mailman’s internal use.

Generally, if a template is not defined or not found, the empty string is used. IOW, a missing template does not cause an error, it simply causes the named template to be blank.

URL placeholders

The URLs themselves can contain placeholders, and this can be used to provide even more flexibility in the way the template texts are retrieved. Two common placeholders include the List-ID and the mailing list’s preferred language code.

>>> ant.preferred_language = 'fr'
>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/lists/ant.example.com/uris', {
...     'list:user:notice:welcome':
...     'http://localhost:8180/$list_id/$language/welcome_3.txt',
...     }, method='PATCH')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

The next person to subscribe will get a French welcome message.

>>> dave = subscribe(ant, 'Elle')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Subject: =?iso-8859-1?q?Welcome_to_the_=22Ant=22_mailing_list?=
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Elle Person <eperson@example.com>
...

Je suis heureux que vous pouvez nous rejoindre!

Standard URL substitutions include:

  • $list_id - The mailing list’s List-ID (ant.example.com)
  • $listname - The mailing list’s fully qualified list name (ant@example.com)
  • $domain_name - The mailing list’s domain name (example.com)
  • $language - The language code for the mailing list’s preferred language (fr)

Template contexts

When Mailman is looking for a template, it always searches for it in up to three contexts, and you can set the template for any of these three contexts: a mailing list, a domain, the site.

Most templates are searched first by the mailing list, then by domain, then by site. One notable exception is the domain:admin:notice:new-list template, which is sent when a new mailing list is created. Because (modulo any style default settings) there won’t be a template for the newly created mailing list, this template is always searched for first in the domain, and then in the site.

In fact, this illustrates a common naming scheme for templates. The colon-separated sections usually follow the form <context>:<recipient>:<type>:<name> where context would be “domain” or “list, <recipient> would be “admin”, “user”, or “member”, and <type> can be “action” or “notice”. This isn’t a strict naming scheme, but it does give you some indication as to the use of the template. All template names used internally by Mailman are given below.

You’ve already seen how the mailing list context works above. Let’s look at the domain and site contexts next.

Domain context

Let’s say you want all mailing lists in a given domain to share exactly the same welcome message template. Remember that Mailman will insert substitutions into the templates themselves to customize them for each mailing list, so in general a single template can be shared by all mailing lists in the domain.

The first thing to do is to set the URI for the welcome message in the domain to be shared.

>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/domains/example.com/uris', {
...     'list:user:notice:welcome':
...     'http://localhost:8180/welcome_4.txt',
...     }, method='PATCH')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

And let’s create a new mailing list in this domain.

>>> bee = create_list('bee@example.com')

Now when Anne subscribes to the Bee mailing list, she will get this domain-wide welcome message.

>>> anne = subscribe(bee, 'Anne')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Bee" mailing list
From: bee-request@example.com
To: Anne Person <aperson@example.com>
...
Welcome to the Bee list in the example.com domain.

So far so good. What happens if Fred subscribes to the Ant mailing list?

>>> fred = subscribe(ant, 'Fred')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Subject: =?iso-8859-1?q?Welcome_to_the_=22Ant=22_mailing_list?=
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Fred Person <fperson@example.com>
...

Je suis heureux que vous pouvez nous rejoindre!

Okay, that’s strange! Why did Fred get the French welcome message? It’s because the mailing list context overrides the domain context! Similarly, a domain context overrides a site context. This allows you to provide generic templates to be used as a default, with specific overrides where necessary.

Let’s delete the Ant list’s override.

>>> ant.preferred_language = 'en'
>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/lists/ant.example.com/uris'
...           '/list:user:notice:welcome',
...           method='DELETE')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

Now when Gwen subscribes to the Ant list, she gets the domain’s welcome message.

>>> gwen = subscribe(ant, 'Gwen')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Gwen Person <gperson@example.com>
...

Welcome to the Ant list in the example.com domain.

Site context

Let’s say we want the same welcome template for every mailing list on our Mailman installation. For this we use the site context.

First, let’s delete the domain context we set previously. Note that previously we used a DELETE method on the list’s welcome template resource, but we could have also done this by PATCHing an empty string for the URI, which Mailman’s REST API interprets as a deletion too. Let’s use this approach to delete the domain welcome message.

>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/domains/example.com/uris', {
...     'list:user:notice:welcome': '',
...     }, method='PATCH')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

Now let’s set a new welcome template URI for the site.

>>> call_http('http://localhost:9001/3.1/uris', {
...     'list:user:notice:welcome':
...     'http://localhost:8180/welcome_5.txt',
...     }, method='PATCH')
content-length: 0
date: ...
server: ...
status: 204

Now Herb subscribes to both the Ant…

>>> herb = subscribe(ant, 'Herb')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Ant" mailing list
From: ant-request@example.com
To: Herb Person <hperson@example.com>
...

Yay! You joined the ant@example.com mailing list.

…and Bee mailing lists.

>>> herb = subscribe(bee, 'Herb')
>>> items = get_queue_messages('virgin')
>>> print(items[0].msg)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Subject: Welcome to the "Bee" mailing list
From: bee-request@example.com
To: Herb Person <hperson@example.com>
...

Yay! You joined the bee@example.com mailing list.

Templated texts

All the texts that Mailman uses to create or decorate messages can be associated with a URL. Mailman looks up templates by name and downloads it via that URL. The retrieved text supports placeholders which are filled in by Mailman. There are a common set of placeholders most templates support:

  • listname - fully qualified list name (e.g. ant@example.com)
  • list_id - the List-ID header (e.g. ant.example.com)
  • display_name - the display name of the mailing list (e.g. Ant)
  • short_listname - the local part of the list name (e.g. ant)
  • domain - the domain name part of the list name (e.g. example.com)
  • description - the mailing list’s short description text
  • info - the mailing list’s longer descriptive text
  • request_email - the email address for the -request alias
  • owner_email - the email address for the -owner alias
  • site_email - the email address to reach the owners of the site
  • language - the two letter language code for the list’s preferred language (e.g. en, it, fr)

Other template substitutions are described below the template name listed below. Here are all the supported template names:

  • domain:admin:notice:new-list

    Sent to the administrators of any newly created mailing list.

  • list:admin:action:post

    Sent to the list administrators when moderator approval for a posting is required.

    • subject - the original Subject of the message
    • sender_email - the poster’s email address
    • reasons - some reasons why the post is being held for approval
  • list:admin:action:subscribe

    Sent to the list administrators when moderator approval for a subscription request is required.

    • member - display name and email address of the subscriber
  • list:admin:action:unsubscribe

    Sent to the list administrators when moderator approval for an unsubscription request is required.

    • member - display name and email address of the subscriber
  • list:admin:notice:subscribe

    Sent to the list administrators to notify them when a new member has been subscribed.

    • member - display name and email address of the subscriber
  • list:admin:notice:unrecognized

    Sent to the list administrators when a bounce message in an unrecognized format has been received.

  • list:admin:notice:unsubscribe

    Sent to the list administrators to notify them when a member has been unsubscribed.

    • member - display name and email address of the subscriber
  • list:member:digest:footer

    The footer for a digest message.

  • list:member:digest:header

    The header for a digest message.

  • list:member:digest:masthead

    The digest “masthead”; i.e. a common introduction for all digest messages.

  • list:member:regular:footer

    The footer for a regular (non-digest) message.

    When personalized deliveries are enabled, these substitution variables are also defined:

    • member - display name and email address of the subscriber
    • user_email - the email address of the recipient
    • user_delivered_to - the case-preserved email address of the recipient
    • user_language - the description of the user’s preferred language (e.g. “French”, “English”, “Italian”)
    • user_name - the recipient’s display name if available
  • list:member:regular:header

    The header for a regular (non-digest) message.

    When personalized deliveries are enabled, these substitution variables are also defined:

    • member - display name and email address of the subscriber
    • user_email - the email address of the recipient
    • user_delivered_to - the case-preserved email address of the recipient
    • user_language - the description of the user’s preferred language (e.g. “French”, “English”, “Italian”)
    • user_name - the recipient’s display name if available
  • list:user:action:subscribe

    The message sent to subscribers when a subscription confirmation is required.

    • token - the unique confirmation token
    • subject - the Subject heading for the confirmation email, which includes the confirmation token
    • confirm_email - the email address to send the confirmation response to; this corresponds to the Reply-To header
    • user_email - the email address being confirmed
  • list:user:action:unsubscribe

    The message sent to subscribers when an unsubscription confirmation is required.

    • token - the unique confirmation token
    • subject - the Subject heading for the confirmation email, which includes the confirmation token
    • confirm_email - the email address to send the confirmation response to; this corresponds to the Reply-To header
    • user_email - the email address being confirmed
  • list:user:notice:goodbye

    The notice sent to a member when they unsubscribe from a mailing list.

  • list:user:notice:hold

    The notice sent to a poster when their message is being held or moderator approval.

    • subject - the original Subject of the message
    • sender_email - the poster’s email address
    • reasons - some reasons why the post is being held for approval
  • list:user:notice:no-more-today

    Sent to a user when the maximum number of autoresponses has been reached for that day.

    • sender_email - the email address of the poster
    • count - the number of autoresponse messages sent to the user today
  • list:user:notice:post

    Notice sent to a poster when their message has been received by the mailing list.

    • subject - the Subject field of the received message
  • list:user:notice:probe

    A bounce probe sent to a member when their subscription has been disabled due to bounces.

    • sender_email - the email address of the bouncing member
  • list:user:notice:refuse

    Notice sent to a poster when their message has been rejected by the list’s moderator.

    • request - the type of request being rejected
    • reason - the reason for the rejection, as provided by the list’s moderators
  • list:user:notice:welcome

    The notice sent to a member when they are subscribed to the mailing list.

    • user_name - the display name of the new member
    • user_email - the email address of the new member