Articles by Brandon West

Brandon West

As Director of Developer Relations for SendGrid, Brandon's focus is on empowering developers to build things, gathering feedback for new features and improvements, and fostering a cooperative developer community for anything that needs email integration.

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SendGrid Partners with FullContact and the Denver Broncos to Tackle STEM

Brandon West Community, Company, Events
Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver
SendGrid is excited to be partnering will FullContact and the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos to host the Tackle STEM Colorado All-Stars Hackathon this fall. The Colorado All-Stars Hackathon offers participants an opportunity to interact with professionals from the industry and gain insightful knowledge about their chosen stream of study. The goal is to challenge aspiring students and technology enthusiasts to explore feasible ideas, develop their team skills and strengthen their network. Read More ›

Replacing the Mandrill Heroku Add-on with the SendGrid Add-on

Brandon West Technical
Replacing the Mandrill Heroku Add-on with the SendGrid Add-on

In light of Mandrill shutting down it’s Heroku add-on, we know there are some Heroku users who are looking for an alternative. Fortunately, Glenn Gillen, who just switched his app ContentFocus from Mandrill to SendGrid, put together a helpful how-to on how to update your ruby apps to use SendGrid. Below are instructions adapted from Glenn’s post: Install the SendGrid Add-On Open up your terminal and use the Heroku CLI to install the add-on. Configure SendGrid You’ll need to set up a bunch of things to verify your new account and maximize your email deliverability. And you don’t want any of these things impacting your app after you’ve switched over. Confirm your email address. And then move straight onto “Whitelabels” in

How to Migrate From Mandrill to SendGrid

Brandon West Product
how to migrate to SendGrid

With yesterday’s announcement that Mandrill is becoming a paid “add-on” to MailChimp, we understand that current Mandrill customers are looking for other providers to help send their mail and to do it quickly. We want to make that as easy as possible here at SendGrid. This how-to will highlight some of the main differences between sending email via Mandrill and sending email via SendGrid to help make migration as easy as possible. You might want to take a quick look at the SendGrid documentation before proceeding. The Classroom is a great place to start before diving into the lower level details of moving mail and making API calls. If you’re looking for the SendGrid equivalent of certain Mandrill functionality, the following table

How to Open Source Your Code in 11 Steps

Brandon West Community, Technical

Before you open source a library, there are a few things that you need to do to ensure you’re following all the rules and that the code is ready for the community. Here’s the 11 step pre-flight checklist that we put together internally at SendGrid: Check the code to make sure that no proprietary information like usernames and passwords are present, and that configuration uses environment variables where necessary. Your code isn’t portable if there are hardcoded database names and credentials. Environment variables are convenient and are a secure default. Make sure that dependencies are encapsulated and explicitly declared. People need to know what they’re getting and if it will work with their existing dependencies. Confirm that there is no

Simple Webhook Testing Using Sinatra and ngrok

Brandon West Technical
Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 1.04.34 PM

Webhooks allow for simple, deep integration between apps and services, but debugging them can be a little painful. We have a general guide to debugging webhooks, but you probably want to know what the quickest webhook test environment is for setting-up and using. It’s hard to beat Sinatra and ngrok for this purpose. Or, if you’d rather use node.js, you can check-out Martyn’s post on Testing Webhooks. Getting Started First, you need a ruby environment that has rubygems. If you are new to ruby, then check out rbenv for getting your environment going. Create a new directory and run gem install sinatra. Now let’s make a simple Sinatra app. Create a file called webhook.rb. We’re going to use the SendGrid Event Webhook in this example. The event webhook

Docs Antipatterns (Part 2)

Brandon West Technical

I previously wrote down a few documentation antipatterns, or descriptions of commonly seen bad solutions to problems. If you’re not quite sure what an antipattern is, it’s explained in that blog post. I’d like to present a couple more documentation antipatterns to avoid, both drawn from experiences that we’ve had in the past, but have solved along the way. Antipattern: Big Ball of Mud Definition The Big Ball of Mud is a well-known antipattern in software engineering. To quote the authors who coined the term: “A Big Ball of Mud is a a haphazardly structured, sprawling, sloppy, duct-tape-and-baling-wire, spaghetti-code jungle. These systems show unmistakable signs of unregulated growth, and repeated, expedient repair. Information is shared promiscuously among distant elements of

The 4 S’s of a Good API Demo

Brandon West Community

Guy Kawasaki’s “The Macintosh Way,” is packed with good advice and is a quick read that you should absolutely check out. You can get The Macintosh Way as a free download. In it, there’s a chapter called “How to Give Good Demo,” where Kawasaki suggests that good demos should be short, simple, sweet, swift, and substantial, and that starting with a script that satisfies these requirements is the foundation for success. As sound as Guy’s advice is, we face different limitations than he faced in 1983. Our audiences have a way to tune out a bad demo instantly by grabbing their smartphone and giving their attention to the internet. They aren’t going to go crazy over animated icons like they

Open Source Documentation: One Year Later

Brandon West Community, Technical
SendGrid docs

A year ago, we open sourced our documentation, with the hypothesis that it would improve the docs by adding feedback loops and removing barriers that discourage contribution. We also wanted to share what we had learned during the process. I’m glad to say that so far the results have been good, and the decision to open source our documentation continues to help us improve it as a product. Where We Are Now We’ve had 59 different contributors to the docs repo since we open sourced it, with around 15 of those contributors being community members rather than SendGrid employees. Considering we had only a couple contributors before, that’s about 30x growth in the number of contributors. Makings things open and