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drupal_mail vs drupal_mail_send in d6

E-mail notifications are the lifeblood of social networking websites. The proliferation of spam email and authorities that monitor servers sending spam is a seemingly never ending battle. Because spam’s increasing prevalence, sending email with “quality” headers is absolutely essential to successful delivery.

I recently worked on an issue with a custom built notification system sending emails and sms messages after certain events. Some of the e-mail messages were delivering successfully and others were not. Review of the code revealed the usage of drupal_mail_send, with improperly built custom headers, was causing the emails to deliver incorrectly.

By simply refactoring the code to use an implementation of the drupal_mail function, I resolved the issue. Let’s take a look at the code.

Original implementation:

foreach ($emails as $email) {

     $message = array(

      'to' => $email,

      'subject' => t('‘Notification Message'),

      'body' => 'This message was sent from' . "\n\n" . $_POST['message'] . $spam_filter_message, 'headers' => array('From' => ''),





foreach ($emails as $email) {

       $params = array(

        'subject' => t('SchoolTeam Message'),

        'body' => 'This message was sent from' . "\n\n" .            $_POST['emailmessage'] . $spam_filter_message,


       drupal_mail('example_module', 'custom_sms', $email, $language, $params);


In the second sample we are calling drupal_mail and invoking the hook in our custom module (‘example_module’). Here is what the hook looks like.

function example_module_mail($key, &$message, $params) {

switch($key) {

case 'custom_sms':

$message['subject'] = $params['subject'];

$message['body'][] = $params['body'];




Using drupal_mail may take a little bit longer then just using drupal_mail_send, but the benefit of generating correctly formatted e-mail headers outweighs the time spent on having to create and reference the hook. By correctly using drupal_mail, you can ensure quality headers while allowing other modules using hook_mail to work correctly with your custom module. Looking ahead, drupal_mail is implemented the same in Drupal 7 as it is in Drupal 6. However, drupal_mail_send has been removed from the Drupal 7 API so if you havent already, now is a good time to start using drupal_mail.

James Rutherford

Meet team member, James Rutherford

As VP of Client Services James is responsible for client satisfaction and project success across all of Mediacurrent's projects. James works closely with clients to ensure Mediacurrent's solutions align with...

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