CSS styled emails without the hassle.
This gem is a drop in solution for styling HTML emails with CSS without having
to do the hard work yourself.
Styling emails is not just a matter of linking to a stylesheet. Most clients,
especially web clients, ignore linked stylesheets or `<style>` tags in the HTML.
The workaround is to write all the CSS rules in the `style` attribute of each
tag inside your email. This is a rather tedious and hard to maintain approach.
Premailer to the rescue! The great [premailer] gem applies all CSS rules to each
matching HTML element by adding them to the `style` attribute. This allows you
to keep HTML and CSS in separate files, just as you're used to from web
development, thus keeping your sanity.
This gem is an adapter for premailer to work with [actionmailer] out of the box.
Actionmailer is the email framework used in Rails, which also works outside of
Rails. Although premailer-rails has certain Rails specific features, **it also
works in the absence of Rails** making it compatible with other frameworks such
## How It Works
premailer-rails works with actionmailer by registering a delivery hook. This
causes all emails that are delivered to be processed by premailer-rails. This
means that by simply including premailer-rails in your `Gemfile` you'll get
styled emails without having to set anything up.
Whenever premailer-rails processes an email, it collects the URLs of all linked
stylesheets (`<link rel="stylesheet" href="css_url">`). Then, for each of these
URLs, it tries to get the content through a couple of strategies. As long as
a strategy does not return anything, the next one is used. The strategies and
their order are as follows:
1. **Cache:** If there's a file in cache matching that URL, the cache content
is returned. The cache right now is rather rudimentary. Whenever a CSS file
is retrieved, it is stored in memory such that subsequent requests to the
same file are faster. The caching is disabled inside Rails in the
2. **File System:** If there's a file inside `public/` with the same path as in
the URL, it is read from disk. E.g. if the URL is
`http://cdn.example.com/assets/email.css` the contents of the file located
at `public/assets/email.css` gets returned if it exists.
3. **Asset Pipeline:** If Rails is available and the asset pipeline is enabled,
the file is retrieved through the asset pipeline. E.g. if the URL is
`http://cdn.example.com/assets/email-fingerprint123.css`, the file
`email.css` is requested from the asset pipeline. That is, the fingerprint
and the prefix (in this case `assets` is the prefix) are stripped before
requesting it from the asset pipeline.
4. **Network:** As a last resort, the URL is simply requested and the response
body is used. This is usefull when the assets are not bundled in the
application and only available on a CDN. On Heroku e.g. you can add assets
to your `.slugignore` causing your assets to not be available to the app
(and thus resulting in a smaller app) and deploy the assets to a CDN such
Simply add the gem to your `Gemfile`:
premailer-rails requires either [nokogiri] or [hpricot]. It doesn't list them as
a dependency so you can choose which one to use. Since hpricot is no longer
maintained, I suggest you to go with nokogiri. Add either one to your `Gemfile`:
If both gems are loaded for some reason, premailer chooses hpricot.
You can also explicitly configure the apapter as documented
Premailer itself accepts a number of options. In order for premailer-rails to
pass these options on to the underlying premailer instance, specify them
as follows (in Rails you could do that in an initializer such as
Premailer::Rails.config.merge!(preserve_styles: true, remove_ids: true)
For a list of options, refer to the [premailer documentation]. The default
If you don't want to automatically generate a text part from the html part, set
the config `:generate_text_part` to false.
Note that the options `:with_html_string` and `:css_string` are used internally
by premailer-rails and thus will be overridden.
If you're using this gem outside of Rails, you'll need to call
`Premailer::Rails.register_interceptors` manually in order for it to work. This
is done ideally in some kind of initializer, depending on the framework you're
premailer-rails reads all stylesheet `<link>` tags, inlines the linked CSS
and removes the tags. If you wish to ignore a certain tag, e.g. one that links to
external fonts such as Google Fonts, you can add a `data-premailer="ignore"`
premailer-rails processes all outgoing emails by default. If you wish to skip
premailer for a certain email, simply set the `:skip_premailer` header:
class UserMailer < ActionMailer::Base
mail to: user.email,
subject: 'Welcome to My Awesome Site',
Note that the mere presence of this header causes premailer to be skipped, i.e.,
even setting `skip_premailer: false` will cause premailer to be skipped. The
reason for that is that the `skip_premailer` is a simple header and the value is
transformed into a string, causing `'false'` to become truthy.
Emails are only processed upon delivery, i.e. when calling `#deliver` on the
email, or when [previewing them in
If you wish to manually trigger the inlining, you can do so by calling the hook:
mail = SomeMailer.some_message(args)
This will modify the email in place, useful e.g. in tests.
## Small Print
Philipe Fatio ([@fphilipe][fphilipe twitter])
premailer-rails is released under the MIT license. See the [license file].
[premailer documentation]: http://rubydoc.info/gems/premailer/1.7.3/Premailer:initialize
[fphilipe twitter]: https://twitter.com/fphilipe
[license file]: LICENSE