Sending Virtual Gifts as Mails..


After an initial spike in traffic, ScrapsTimeOut has not been able hold the attention of people. I do realize that the idea would drive seasonal traffic, with hits surging during occasions like Christmas or valentines day. We also had initial technical glitches, and the infamous orkut captcha bug that reduced the usage.
On the parallel, we also discovered that there are a lot of varied email forward flowing around the internet. Hence, converting ScrapsTimeOut to a mailable virtual gift was an obvious next step for us. All we had to do was to come up with a simple HTML page that would be attatched to emails and sent across to people. On clicking the "Download" button, the scrap text is submitted to a PHP page, that conveniently adds a Content-disposition: attachment; filename=mail.html header element. This pops up the "Save As" dialog box for the HTML content. The user can have the attachment on the local file system till the timer ticks down to zero. They can open the gift at the time specified by the sender; more like keeping a gift with you that you cannot open till a time!
The main challenge was the display of the attachment on the mail clients. Yahoo mail beta shows it inline without scripts or swf content. In case of gmail, "Viewing" the attachment disables some styles also. As expected, scripts and swf are also blocked. On rich clients like Outlook and Lotus Notes, the file needs to be explicitly downloaded. Also, people viewing the attachment may or may not be connected to the internet.
To serve all these requirement, the HTML attachment is just a plain page telling users to download and view the attachment. An inline script tag displays error of not being connected to the internet. The page also has a reference to an external Javascript file. This hides the "no-connected-to-internet" error, and renders the final page, letting users view the gift.
We have just finished testing it, and have launched it. Please let us know if you liked this feature, or would like to see any other ideas implemented.