Kristian Ivanov

@k_ivanow

Participating in Product Hunt Global Hackathon — Days 20–22

Or, why styling email templates should be considered a form of torture and forbidden by the Geneva Conventions!

A friend of mine told me that there are a lot of people frequently checking government websites to see if there are any changes that concern them. I decided to add this as a functionality of BirdOfKnowledge as well.

The ideas was simple -> the user inputs a website that they want to track and the interval they want to track it in, with a half an hour as a minimum. Crawl the webpage, extract the meaningful content, check if there are difference to previous versions, send email to user.

Boy, was I wrong…

The government websites, at least here in Bulgaria have a very interesting structure (which is **** ). Oddly enough I managed to achieve extracting meaningful data from government websites within a few hours.

I also found a third party library that can generate difference between two strings, which I would use when I send emails. It looked like this.

version 0.1

Then I only had to send emails. ONLY! It turns out that styling emails for different mail providers is extremely old fashioned.

Keep in mind that I am 24 years old. I have no experience in making websites entirely out of tables to fit perfectly into browsers. I use tables when I want to represent visual data.

Styling emails is like coding the visual part of a website for something around the year 2000 +/- a few years. It took me some time to find free templates and even more time (roughly around an hour) to decipher the template, delete all of the parts that I didn’t need and modify the parts that I needed. In the end I was left with this, which for a Beta version is alright, I guess.

Despite that it looks very simple it is a bunch of tables, table rows, tds, and tables in tds and so on, until the email client decide to render simple squares with flat backgrounds.

Next

I will write about the state of different search APIs and why I don’t use them and still manage to crawl the web tomorrow :)

Prologue

This functionality is live and being used by a few people! Which means that my pain was not in vain!

If you are a participant in the hackathon I would love to hear your impressions of the hackathon and this article and whether or not our journeys so far had anything similar.

The previous articles can be found here:
https://medium.com/@k_ivanow

And of course anyone is more than welcomed to subscribe for Gamayun here — https://www.producthunt.com/upcoming/gamayun, test it, tweet to it and whatever else you can think of :)

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