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Creating an Outlook/Thunderbird Draft Email including Attachments

6 - Meteoroid

For many times, you want Alteryx to process some data, generate a report, and send to a group of recipients. However, you cannot really trust Alteryx to send directly to recipients because you want to check the report for the last time before it gets dispatched. If Alteryx is going to just generate the report and send to yourself, then you will have to manually forward the email, insert the recipients, remove ”FW: ” from the subject, and clean up the email header of the email body. These manual steps kind of of defeats the purpose of automation.


In this tutorial I'm going to share with you how to ask Alteryx to send you a Draft email. That is, an email with the ultimate recipients, Subject and email body already populated for you. It even attaches the newly generated reports that you want to send to recipients. After you receive the email from Alteryx, you can open up the Draft email, review and click send. Below is a sample output:





Now, to do this, you need to know a little bit of a file format called an eml file. An eml file is a text file with file name ended with eml. The content of the text file is similar to below:


MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Unsent: 1
Subject: Draft Email with Attachment
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="email_boundary"


Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="html_boundary"


Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable


This is an HTML message. Please use an HTML capable mail program to read
this message.


Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable


<html><body>This is an email with <b>attachments</b></body></html>




Content-Type: application/pdf; name="pdf_attachment.pdf"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="pdf_attachment.pdf"


[A base 64 encoding of an pdf attachment]



Content-Type: application/; name="excel_attachment.xlsx"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: inline; filename="excel_attachment.xlsx"


[A base 64 encoding of an Excel attachment]




Here are the description of some key fields:


  • MIME-Version: 1.0: Just keep this
  • X-Unsent: 1: This line will make sure the file be opened in your email client in Edit mode. I have tested it in Outlook and it works. If you want this to work in Thunderbird, you will need to install this fix.
  • To: This is the To email address you want the Draft email to pre-populate. This is usually a list of target report recipients.
  • Subject: This is the Subject you want the Draft email to pre-populate.


Now, the boundary lines are more difficult to explain. Basically, you need to declare a boundary and describe what you are including. In my example, I'm including an HTML message, and two attachments. Just look at the sample eml message above and you should get a good idea of how to use the boundary.


Then, the most tricky part is, you want to include the attachments. You may use Alteryx to generate the reports, and the reports can be PDF, or Excel, or a picture, or a Word document or any file type. I'm going to attached a PDF file and an Excel file in the Draft email. In the declaration, you are going to specify Content-Type of each attachment. That basically tells your operation system what program to use when the recipient double-clicks on each of the attachment.


Now, the most interesting part is how you would encode the attachments in the eml message. Alteryx has these very interesting tools just for this purpose: the Blob Input and Blob Convert. You can make use of these to read your PDF file, convert to base64 text, and include in the Draft email.




Several things to watch out for when you configure the Alteryx workflow:


  1. Empty lines are important in the eml file. However, when you use the Summation tool to concatenate the strings, it removes empty lines. You will need to replace the place holder [BLANK LINE] near the end of the workflow.
  2. When you use the Summation tool to concatenate the strings, make sure you specify \r\n as Separator. It is the carriage return line feed.
  3. In the Blob Convert tool, select Convert from a Blob Field, and select Convert to Base64 encoding Binary Data
  4. In the Output Data configuration, just output as a Comma Separated Value file but you are going to specify a filename with *.eml ending, such as DraftEmail.eml. That's the file you will attach in the Alteryx workflow and send to yourself for final checking.
  5. In the Output Data configuration, make sure you put Never in the Quote Output Fields.

Please leave any comments below if you have any insight/feedback, and I will try to answer them, thanks.


5 - Atom

Can anyone provide guidance on the following which is similar to this item.


My input data is an excel file with X amount of rows. Each row of data is going to be assigned to a specific person (a person can be assigned to multiple rows). Using the Tile and Basic Table Functions, I was able to create a record for each person and all the data assigned to them.


Now, I want to create an email draft for each persons data with the data being in the body of the email 


I am able to get this generated into a single draft however i need there to be multiple drafts based on the number of people in the file