Articles by Nick Quinlan

Nick Quinlan is a SendGrid Developer Evangelist based out of San Francisco. He works to make developers lives easier by providing them with the help they need to grow their ideas. Give him a shout, @YayNickQ.

Email Your Goals Using Ruby, Google Docs, SendGrid, and

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.36.47 AM

With the New Year fast approaching, you, like me, may be considering your goals for the upcoming year. For me, the hardest part about goals is remembering them. I’ll often make them and forget I did. So rather than buy echinacea, I decided to write a hack! The hack, which I’m calling Daily Goals, emails you every day with a selection of your goals for personal growth. It’s written in Ruby and relies on to run it every day. The Code All the code you need to get this working is on GitHub. I’ll highlight the key lines with links below. I decided to keep my goals in a spreadsheet in Google Drive so that I can easily change them

You’re Pricing Out The Evangelist

Evangelisdae Raptoridae - Extinct dinosaur evangelist

In the past, evangelists have been central to hackathons, a large group of helpful people meandering the event doing all they can to make the event better for the people there. Recently, however, I attended a hackathon where I was the only mentor wandering the event, the only one to stay past 3am, and one of only two evangelists at the event. The fact is, this isn’t just a single event, it’s a trend. This terrifies me. I love hackathons. They’re responsible for me being who I am today. To me, mentors are central to hackathons. They’re one of the reasons I attended, and continue to attend hackathons. To me, learning is one of the best reasons to be at

Repeat Yourself, Then Say It Again

Best Practices

This comes from a talk I’m giving today at DevBeat (and a webinar I gave last month), it explores a key point of the talk in more depth. Don’t Repeat Yourself. It’s a rule you learn nearly the instant you start programming. As a coder, you feel dirty whenever you find repetitive code. You want to instantly refactor and make it right. K&R, perhaps the seminal work of programming literature, apologizes for repetition on its first page. Maybe, however, this is the best example that when communicating, repetition is the best thing to do. In fact, outside the world of computer science, this fact is hammered home, by repeating it consistently, throughout every article, book, course, seminar, and workshop on

An Atypical Hackathon That Did It Right

Spocode Logo

This weekend I attended a hackathon in Spokane, WA. In many ways it was the best hackathon I’ve attended this year, but compared to the typical hackathon of late it was all wrong. We were served pizza, sandwiches, and Costco muffins, rather than burritos, sliders, and artisan breakfast sandwiches. No beer was served. We couldn’t eat or drink in the room we were coding in. The organizer didn’t make a big deal of how much the participants could win, prizes were treated as afterthoughts. It was nothing like some of the hackathons I’ve attended recently. In fact, the participants were different too. Not once did I hear someone in it for the prizes (although there may have been mention of

Yahoo Header Counteracts Email Address Recycling

Best Practices, Technical

Yahoo Mail has started recycling email addresses. This led to a host of security and privacy concerns. As senders of transactional email, this was particularly scary to us, as we know our customers send privileged email every day, messages they wouldn’t want getting into the wrong hands. Luckily, Yahoo has given a way to counteract these concerns. In a recent proposal filed with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Yahoo put forth the idea of using an email header: Require-Recipient-Valid-Since. By using the RRVS header, you tell the email service provider (i.e. Yahoo), the last date you knew the address was valid. If the address has changed hands after the date you provided, the service provider will not deliver it.

How I Explained Hackathons to My Parents

Company, Events
Talking about SendGrid

As a developer evangelist, I end up attending a lot of hackathons. I have a ton of fun at these events, helping attendees get their apps working and writing code of my own. My parents were very excited to learn about SendGrid and what Developer Evangelism is, but telling my parents, that “I love going to hackathons” elicited a more alarmed response. You what?! I love going to Hackathons. They’re one of the most fun parts of my job! Getting to hack on things with other developers is rewarding and I always get to learn something new. But, honey, hacking is illegal, we don’t want you to get arrested. Mom, it’s not that kind of hacking. The term hacking comes

Fingerprinting Email Infrastructure Companies

Company, Technical
Email Intelligence in Action

Since you’re reading the SendGrid blog, it probably won’t surprise you many companies turn to email infrastructure services to send their email, rather than building your own. As an employee of one of these infrastructure companies, I’m always interested in finding out what company is behind the email getting sent. To do this I wrote a Chrome Plugin that attempts to determine what company sent the email. In writing the plugin, I learned a lot about how to determine what company sent an email, a process I wanted to share. Most email infrastructure companies identify themselves in email headers, many of those, through proprieatary X-Headers, identifying users, or email ids. Others will identify themselves in their DKIM, X-Mailer, or other

How I Explained Developer Evangelism to My Parents

Talking about SendGrid

SendGrid makes it really easy for programmers to make applications that send email. In fact, we’ve made it so easy that we send over eight billion emails a month! Developer evangelism is a rapidly growing and emerging trend amongst tech companies. I regularly meet people in startup land, who have not heard the term. Needless to say, introducing it to my parents after telling them about SendGrid was a process. Wait, so what’s this SendGrid company having you do anyway? Well, It’s basically a dream job. I’m going to go around spreading the good word as an evangelist! Nick, religion is not a topic for polite company. Dad, I’m not evangelizing any religion, I’m evangelizing SendGrid. I get to tell

Extract and Analyze SendGrid Event Data With Keen.IO

Best Practices, Partnerships, Technical
Keen IO logo

Keen.IO allows companies to collect and extract data by using formats and mechanisms that make sense for their business. This means you can throw pretty much any data at Keen and request it back in any way. That’s awesome in-and-of itself, however Keen has a special integration with SendGrid’s Event Webhook that makes it super awesome. Although SendGrid offers several advanced statistics through our website, and our API, sometimes you want more flexibility or deeper analysis; Keen.IO gives this to you. Keen’s documentation explains how to integrate SendGrid with Keen. Once you’ve integrated, you’ll want to get your data out. I’m going to highlight a few interesting and useful ways to extract data with Keen’s Javascript SDK. Everything I discuss

Five Out-of-the-Box Uses Of Email in Apps

Best Practices
Five Out of The Box Uses of Email

I get really excited about email. Not because I work at an email infrastructure company, but because email is a universal interface. Everyone with a computer knows how to use it. Meaning both my eighty year old grandmother and my ten year old cousin can communicate with me using the same protocol. I can choose to receive email on my terms, send read receipts only if I want, and respond how I desire. It provides more functionality than Facebook messages, and has been around for five times as long. It’s amazing! I’m always excited to see use cases for email that stretch how we think about the service and decided to compile a list of some of the most interesting uses. Periodic Emails

BattleHacking My First Hackathon as a Developer Evangelist


Late last month I attended my first hackathon as an official SendGrid Developer Evangelist, PayPal’s BattleHack New York. I have attended hackathons before and I even represented SendGrid at Hack4Colorado as part of my interview process. But this was my first time solo, with our New York-based evangelist at another event. This was also a first for BattleHack. PayPal had never done this event in the US. I was excited to see how it would go and the results were nothing short of amazing. The event ended with twenty-one teams presenting very high quality hacks. It was inspiring to see what the teams turned out in 24 hours. The event started Saturday morning, with sponsor demos. This was to be

SendGrid Hops Aboard The DOer Express to International Startup Fest

International Startup Fest

A tour bus full of founders, business people, and programmers all sat silent in Downtown Manhattan at 8:00am, mentally preparing for two days of pitching, networking and making connections that could launch their early stage startups to success. SendGrid, Twilio and Microsoft recently partnered to bring eleven startups from New York City to Montreal for the International Startup Festival. We rented a bus and drove six hours through upstate New York and into Canada. The night before all the startups had gathered at 10gen Headquarters for a Q&A with Brian Watson of Union Square Ventures (USV). The founders seized the opportunity, asking questions about funding and business strategy and heard about USV’s investment thesis. Back on the the DOer Express,