Last week, we announced the release of a new feature, our Email Template Engine. To learn more about how to implement the Template Engine, our support team created a step-by-step tutorial as part of our running VidGrid series.

Access the tutorial here, and below with an accompanying transcription.


Hello, and welcome to the VidGrid tutorial for Template Engine, SendGrid’s new transactional email template application. Template Engine breaks down the barrier between marketing and development teams, allowing marketers easy control over the content of transactional email templates while allowing developers to focus on their application.

Creating a Template

Our first step will be to go ahead and create a template. Let’s enter in a template name—I’m going to use “SendGrid Test.” After entering in the template name, you’ll be brought to the design section. Here, you can edit the template name and add your template content either via our WYSIWYG Editor or by pasting in your HTML.

Notice that two substitution tags <%subject%> and <%body%> are already entered into your template. These two tags are critical components of the substitution process and must exist for your template to be dynamically applied to outgoing mail. To demonstrate, I’m going to go ahead and add my own HTML. Now that that’s submitted, I want to check my WYSIWYG Editor as well. Notice that both the <%subject%> and <%body%> tags remain in my template.

When I run my mail script, the subject value will populate with the customer’s name based off the SMTP API header information. Additionally, the body variable will be replaced with my custom data. When the template is sent, via my mail script, the subject tag will be replaced with the SMTP API customer information as well as the other customer name instances while the body tag will be substituted with the script data.

Now this is just a single demonstration of the substitution variables and is primarily meant to emphasize the importance of these tags. You won’t be able to save your template without them and you’ll want to check with your programmer or developer on how they’ll interact with your mail.

The third step will be to convert the template’s HTML into plain text. Go ahead and click on Plain Text Email. The template UI provides us with the ability to go ahead and grab the plain text content straight from our HTML—this part is crucial because having an HTML and plain text message is vital for best email deliverability.

Preview Options and Additional Features

Once all of these components exist, you’ll want to preview your template with our desktop and mobile preview options. Once saved, you’ll notice that several other features become available. They include:

Test Function

The first one we’ll tackle is the new Test function. Clicking this button brings up a sidebar where you can preview your template in both desktop and mobile formats. You can also send a tester of your template to the email address that you specify.

Drop-Down Cog

The second function that becomes available is the drop-down cog. Here, you can make your template active, duplicate, send a test, or even delete. In order to have your template applied to outgoing mail, it’s critical to activate it. You’ll notice that once the template has been set, the active version, a green Active button will be displayed in the top left. Let’s go ahead and return to the template overview page. You’ll notice here that the template we were just working on is now outlined in green. In addition to the green Active button, this is how we’ll identify which template is active at any one point.

You’ll also notice that our template is not nestled underneath an ID number. This ID number is critical for developers and programmers to initiate API calls to apply your template to outgoing mail. When there are multiple versions of a template and an additional template section, you’ll find the active identifiers to be quite handy. I’ve included these here for demonstration purposes so you can see how they’ll be organized.

Note that multiple templates can be made active at any one point and that the ID number becomes critical for mail application. Whether you integrate via API or SMTP, simply including the template ID number in your SMTP API header will have your active template version applied to your outgoing mail.

More Features

Additional features on the template overview page include the ability for you to change view types, create a new template, and use the cog function to manage template groupings.

While this was just a single demonstration of our new Template Engine, we’re looking forward to seeing what you’ll be creating in the very near future. For additional information and resources for our new Template Engine application, visit our features page.

Jillian Wohlfarth
As SendGrid's Director of Content, Jillian is responsible for ensuring that SendGrid provides valuable thought leadership content through the blog, whitepapers, webcasts, and more. When not writing and editing, you can find Jillian frequenting Denver restaurants in search of the best queso.