Sending Emails from the Edge with Rust

A pattern of the Rust logo, a letter icon and a server icon

If you want to send emails, you'll typically use a third party service for that. There are many options that all have their pros and cons – we chose Sendgrid. Whatever service you end up choosing, they'll provide some kind of HTTP API for sending emails. In the case of Sendgrid that looks roughly like this:

curl --request POST \
--url https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send \
--header 'Authorization: Bearer <<YOUR_API_KEY>>' \
--header 'Content-Type: application/json' \
--data '{"personalizations":[{"to":[{"email":"john.doe@example.com"}],"subject":"Hello, World!"}],"content": [{"type": "text/plain", "value": "Heya!"}],"from":{"email":"sam.smith@example.com"}}'

You send a POST request to https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send with a JSON body that contains the recipient's and sender's email addresses, the subject and the actual message. The API key that Sendgrid provides and uses to ensure the request comes from a subscribed user – and which one – is sent as a bearer token in the Authorization header. That key is also the only real reason why we can't just call the Sendgrid API directly from the browser – if we included the key in the website's source, we'd be making it publicly available and everyone could use it to send emails via our Sendgrid account. So we need to keep the code that calls the Sendgrid API on a server (the edge function we're writing) and then call that from the browser.

The JavaScript code that handles submission of our contact form (the <form>'s submit event) in the browser looks roughly like this:

fetch("https://contact.mainmatter.dev/send", {
body: JSON.stringify(formData),
headers: {
"Content-Type": "application/json; charset=UTF-8'",
},
method: "POST",
});

We're making a POST request to our edge function with the data the user put in the contact form's fields sent as JSON in the request body. So in essence, the edge function acts as a proxy – it translates requests that users' browsers make to the edge function into requests from the edge function to the Sendgrid API.

anchorCloudflare Workers

As mentioned above, there are quite a few providers to pick from when you want to run WASM on the edge these days – among others, Vercel, Netlify, Fastly, and Cloudflare all have offerings. For our mailer, we chose Cloudflare – their CLI tool Wrangler makes it easy to develop and deploy your code and hides all of the JavaScript wrapper code that's necessary to run WASM in V8.

Wrangler can be used to create a new project and will set up the necessary structure and build configuration. Cloudflare also wrote the worker crate which provides some handy APIs that make writing your worker in Rust easier.

anchorImplementing the Mailer

The complete code of our website mailer is available on GitHub.

The basic structure for our mailer worker looks like this:

use worker::{
event, Env, Request, Response, Result as WorkerResult, Router,
};

#[event(fetch, respond_with_errors)]
pub async fn main(req: Request, env: Env, _ctx: worker::Context) -> WorkerResult<Response> {
let response = Router::new()
.post_async("/send", |mut req, ctx| async move {
// send email
})
.run(req, env)
.await?;

response
}

We're importing the structs and attributes we need from the worker crate and define a main function that responds to fetch events (i.e. incoming requests). Inside of that function, we use the Router provided by the worker package to handle requests based on the path and method – in this case we're only interested in POST requests to the /send path.

Since we'll get the message details like the sender's name, email address and the message text in the request body as JSON, we need to convert that JSON string into something we can work with. We can use the serde crate to deserialize the string into a struct:

use serde::Deserialize;
use worker::{
event, Env, Request, Response, Result as WorkerResult, Router,
};

#[derive(Deserialize)]
pub struct Payload {
pub name: String,
pub email: String,
pub message: String,
}

#[event(fetch, respond_with_errors)]
pub async fn main(req: Request, env: Env, _ctx: worker::Context) -> WorkerResult<Response> {
let response = Router::new()
.post_async("/send", |mut req, ctx| async move {
match req.json::<Payload>().await {
Ok(payload) => // send email,
Err(_) => Response::error("Unprocessable Entity", 422),
}
})
.run(req, env)
.await?;

response
}

If deserializing the request body into a Payload fails, we simply respond with status 422. Otherwise we can go on to send the message. Let's look at how that works:

use reqwest::Client;
use serde::Deserialize;
use serde_json::json;
use worker::{
event, Env, Request, Response, Result as WorkerResult, Router,
};

#[derive(Deserialize)]
pub struct Payload {
pub name: String,
pub email: String,
pub message: String,
}

#[event(fetch, respond_with_errors)]
pub async fn main(req: Request, env: Env, _ctx: worker::Context) -> WorkerResult<Response> {
let response = Router::new()
.post_async("/send", |mut req, ctx| async move {
let api_key = ctx.secret("SENDGRID_API_KEY")?.to_string();

match req.json::<Payload>().await {
Ok(payload) => send_message(payload, &api_key),
Err(_) => Response::error("Unprocessable Entity", 422),
}
})
.run(req, env)
.await?;

response
}

pub async fn send_message(payload: Payload, api_key: &str) -> WorkerResult<Response> {
let message = payload.message.trim();
let message = if !message.is_empty() { message } else { "–" };

let data = json!({
"personalizations": [{
"to": [
{ "email": "contact@domain.tld", "name": "Sender" }
]}
],
"from": { "email": "no-reply@domain.tld", "name": format!("{} via domain.tld", payload.name) },
"reply_to": { "email": payload.email, "name": payload.name },
"subject": "Message from domain.tld",
"content": [{
"type": "text/plain",
"value": message
}]
});

let client = Client::new();
let result = client
.post("https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send")
.header("Authorization", format!("Bearer {}", api_key))
.header("Content-Type", "application/json")
.body(data)
.send()
.await;

match result {
Ok(response) => match response.status() {
202 => Response::ok(""),
_ => Response::error("Bad Gateway", 502),
},
Err(_) => Response::error("Internal Server Error", 500),
}
}

We extracted the actual logic to send the message into the send_message function. That function receives the Payload as well as the Sendgrid API key that we get from the worker context (see the Cloudflare docs for information on how to set up secrets for workers).

The function constructs the request body to send to Sendgrid (setting a default message body if it's empty as Sendgrid doesn't allow empty messages) as a JSON string using the serde_json crate's json! macro. It then sends the request to the Sendgrid API (we use the reqwest crate here but there are other options as well) and if that succeeds with status code 202 (indicating the message was sent), returns an ok response.

And that's already all there is to it! Of course, there are some details left out in this example like CORS and logging. Refer to the GitHub repository for the complete code but it's not really much more than the above.

anchorTesting

Having written the above code, of course we'd like to test it as well to ensure it indeed works correctly and to avoid future regressions. Since we're compiling this to WASM, we cannot simply use Rust's standard [test] attribute; instead, we need to use the wasm-bindgen crate:

use wasm_bindgen_test::*;

wasm_bindgen_test::wasm_bindgen_test_configure!(run_in_browser); // run this in an actual browser

#[wasm_bindgen_test]
async fn it_works() {
// TODO
}

To run the tests in a headless Chrome instance, we use the wasm-pack crate:

wasm-pack test --headless --chrome

The next challenge is that we don't want the code to actually request the Sendgrid API and send out real emails during tests. Thus, we need to mock those API calls – however, the problem there is that the available crates for mocking HTTP requests do not work in WASM. So we need to find another approach for mocking out Sendgrid. A straight-forward approach is to just move the code we want to mock into its own function and then pass that in to the send_message function. With that structure, we can simply pass a different function that does not actually call the Sendgrid API in the tests:

#[event(fetch, respond_with_errors)]
pub async fn main(req: Request, env: Env, _ctx: worker::Context) -> WorkerResult<Response> {
let response = Router::new()
.post_async("/send", |mut req, ctx| async move {
let api_key = ctx.secret("SENDGRID_API_KEY")?.to_string();

match req.json::<Payload>().await {
Ok(payload) => send_message(payload, &api_key, &request_sendgrid),
Err(_) => Response::error("Unprocessable Entity", 422),
}
})
.run(req, env)
.await?;

response
}

pub async fn send_message<'a, Fut>(
payload: Payload,
api_key: &'a str,
sendgrid: impl FnOnce(&'a str, String) -> Fut + 'a,
) -> WorkerResult<Response>
where
Fut: Future<Output = Result<u16, NetworkError>>,
{
let message = payload.message.trim();
let message = if !message.is_empty() { message } else { "–" };

let data = json!({
"personalizations": [{
"to": [
{ "email": "contact@domain.tld", "name": "Sender" }
]}
],
"from": { "email": "no-reply@domain.tld", "name": format!("{} via domain.tld", payload.name) },
"reply_to": { "email": payload.email, "name": payload.name },
"subject": "Message from domain.tld",
"content": [{
"type": "text/plain",
"value": message
}]
});

let result = sendgrid(api_key, data.to_string()).await;

match result {
Ok(status) => match status {
202 => Response::ok(""),
_ => Response::error("Bad Gateway", 502),
},
Err(_) => Response::error("Internal Server Error", 500),
}
}

pub struct NetworkError;

async fn request_sendgrid(api_key: &str, data: String) -> Result<u16, NetworkError> {
let client = Client::new();
let result = client
.post("https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send")
.header("Authorization", format!("Bearer {}", api_key))
.header("Content-Type", "application/json")
.body(data)
.send()
.await;

match result {
Ok(response) => Ok(response.status().as_u16()),
Err(_) => Err(NetworkError),
}
}

Here we extracted a function request_sendgrid that encapsulates the code that calls the Sendgrid API and that we don't want to run during tests. The send_message function's signature has been changed so that it accepts a function argument it will call to make the request. The worker's request handler in the router simply passes in the request_sendgrid function to send_message. So overall, nothing has really changed and everything works exactly as it did before. But in the tests, we can now pass in our own function that will not actually request the Sendgrid API, but rather returns a response right away:

use mainmatter_website_mailer::{send_message, NetworkError, Payload};
use serde_json::json;
use wasm_bindgen_test::*;

wasm_bindgen_test::wasm_bindgen_test_configure!(run_in_browser);

#[wasm_bindgen_test]
async fn it_works_for_the_happy_path() {
async fn request_sendgrid(_api_key: &str, _data: String) -> Result<u16, NetworkError> {
Ok(202)
}

let payload = Payload {
name: String::from("name"),
email: String::from("email@domain.tld"),
message: String::from("Hi!"),
};
let result = send_message(payload, "api_key", &request_sendgrid).await;

assert_eq!(result.unwrap().status_code(), 200);
}

Using this approach, we can of course also assert that the correct request body is sent to the Sendgrid API, errors are handled correctly, etc. Refer to the GitHub repository for the complete test suite.

anchorShould you do this?

One question that remains is whether Rust/WASM is really needed here. You could argue this isn't a reasonable use case for Rust/WASM and you'd probably be right. We wrote a simply proxy service (for which we also don't expect a lot of traffic) where performance is almost entirely bound by network IO – there's no computationally expensive processing going on (you could argue almost no processing at all) – which would typically be the main reason why you'd choose Rust/WASM. However, we love Rust and wouldn't have wanted to let an opportunity to use it pass unused. So in short, would we recommend people to implement their mailers in Rust? – maybe not, just using JavaScript might be simpler. Was it fun writing this? Yes, definitely 😍

Team member leaning against wall taking notes while talking to three other team members

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