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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.

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