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  1. A Change of Season
    Devshed Loyal (3000 - 3499 posts)

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    Generating countdown gif timer inside email on the fly


    Hello;

    I am developing a new product which requires generating countdown timer on the fly, inside the emails.

    I haven't checked the technology behind them but these give you an idea of what I want:

    Example 1
    Example 2


    I generate the timers based on the date fields in my database and I am gonna do this using Codeigniter.

    I assume I have to generate gif on the fly.

    Would you please give me some guidelines?

    Thanks
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  3. Impoverished Moderator
    Devshed Supreme Being (6500+ posts)

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    What kind of time scale do you have to support?

    A timer for 10 days would have >850,000 frames, and if each frame was 100 bytes (just throwing a figure out) then that's >85MB. So that's not an option. A GIF's minimum framerate is about one per 11 minutes so that won't be able to do days or hours by themselves.
    Splitting the timer into two animations, one of days+hours+tens of minutes and the other of ones of minutes+seconds, would mean that 10 days requires 1440 frames for the first and a looping 600 frames for the second. At 100 bytes that's a much more reasonable 144KB and 60KB.
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  5. A Change of Season
    Devshed Loyal (3000 - 3499 posts)

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    Originally Posted by requinix
    What kind of time scale do you have to support?

    A timer for 10 days would have >850,000 frames, and if each frame was 100 bytes (just throwing a figure out) then that's >85MB. So that's not an option. A GIF's minimum framerate is about one per 11 minutes so that won't be able to do days or hours by themselves.
    Splitting the timer into two animations, one of days+hours+tens of minutes and the other of ones of minutes+seconds, would mean that 10 days requires 1440 frames for the first and a looping 600 frames for the second. At 100 bytes that's a much more reasonable 144KB and 60KB.
    Hi;

    Thank you for the reply. You know how much love I have for you.

    You're a little too ahead of me in this one.

    First I want to understand how to generate a simple 2 frame gif and email that.

    Then I get into the details.

    Can't wait to hear back.

    xo
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    Devshed Specialist (4000 - 4499 posts)

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    It seems to me that it will always say
    T, T-1, T-2 etc
    - regardless of when the recipient opens the email
    - regardless of how many times they open the email
    - and is easily voided by turning off such cheap tricks like loading images, remote sites, scripting etc.
    If you dance barefoot on the broken glass of undefined behaviour, you've got to expect the occasional cut.
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    Devshed God 2nd Plane (6000 - 6499 posts)

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    Indeed, if you want an accurate timer targeting a given date then the only way would be to use a remote image which would be blocked by default in most clients.

    If you just want a fake timer then you could probably generate a small gif that counts down like 30 minutes or something, something that's not too large in size and can be embedded into the message.
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  11. A Change of Season
    Devshed Loyal (3000 - 3499 posts)

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    Originally Posted by kicken
    Indeed, if you want an accurate timer targeting a given date then the only way would be to use a remote image which would be blocked by default in most clients.

    If you just want a fake timer then you could probably generate a small gif that counts down like 30 minutes or something, something that's not too large in size and can be embedded into the message.
    No i dont want fake timer.

    Please look at feature #4

    You can add the same timers to your emails as well - knowing that the deadline your subscribers see in their emails will match the timer they see when they visit your landing pages
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    Devshed God 2nd Plane (6000 - 6499 posts)

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    Originally Posted by English Breakfast Tea
    I never said you couldn't do it. I said if that is what you want, it has to be a remote image. Most email clients I've used block remote images by default.

    That, or you skip a GIF and try to use javascript to create your timer inside the message, which I would expect to also have issues.
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    Originally Posted by kicken
    That, or you skip a GIF and try to use javascript to create your timer inside the message, which I would expect to also have issues.
    I'm like 99% sure Javascript wouldn't work Likely no to iframes as well. A remotely-hosted GIF with alt text is basically the only option.
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    Devshed Loyal (3000 - 3499 posts)

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    Hello;

    From what youz are saying I take that these sites I showed you are not accurate.

    Can you confirm there is 100% no way to make this work reliably in every email (Gmail, Yahoo...)

    And yes JS is 100%, not reliable inside email.

    Thanks
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    If by 100% reliable you mean that every user can open the email in whatever client and see the countdown working then no, it is not possible to get 100% reliability. Settle for less and trust that (a) people will have it loading images if they want it to and (b) users can always go to your site to see the countdown too (right?).
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    I am gonna try a few things and get back to this.

    I might have to ride off the whole email thing since it doesn't seem to be very accurate.

    Saying that big a$$ marketers do it.
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    Devshed God 2nd Plane (6000 - 6499 posts)

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    As far as I can tell your second example company uses the remote dynamic GIF image approach as mentioned, and would only work where images are loaded. They mention this on their site.
    Supported Email Clients

    Images created by EmailTimers are supported in all email clients including mobile, wherever images are enabled. Following is a list of major email clients that support EmailTimers:
    How to create Countdown Timer in emails
    Copy embed source code that is generated like this:
    <shows remote image URL>
    I feel I could say for certain their timer would not work for me using Thunderbird. They claim Thunderbird as being supported, and I'm sure it would work if I loaded their image, however Thunderbird by default will not load remote images. The user has to explicitly enable images first.

    I've gotten marketing messages before that refer to a deadline / mention countdowns but I can't recall any include an actual timer in the email. Sometimes they have it on the site after you click through, that is much easier to do and more reliable. Looking back through messages that mention "countdown" I only found one that included any sort of actual countdown in the message and it was just a simple gif that counted from 3 to 0, not a timer.
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    Hey guys

    Thanks for the replies. I have to make a decision about this feature soon.

    If Requnix and Kicken you were to decide about this feature, given the situation above, what would you recommend me to do?

    • Drop countdown timer in email since emails don't support Javascript and doing gif is actually not a good idea since images can be disabled.
    • Go ahead and build your system with the email feature. It's ok if it's not consistent and it doesn't work in some emails due to "images disable", "javascript limitation" or other email issues.


    Thanks
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  27. Impoverished Moderator
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    You can do the countdown timer with remote images, a "enable images to see how long you have"-sort of message, and a link to the site. Yeah, not everyone will see images immediately, but you can still do it.

    Whether you accept those drawbacks and do the timer or not is up to you. I would do it.
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    Devshed God 2nd Plane (6000 - 6499 posts)

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    I don't see any real issue with adding a remote GIF with a countdown, just understand the limitations. Also be sure to include appropriate alt text or other notices in the email so those without remote images enabled understand the offer. For example:
    Code:
    <img src="https://example.com/someUniqueIdentifier/countdown.gif" alt="Hurry, offer expires on m/d/Y!">
    Include the actual expiration date in the image, email, or both along with the countdown so that if the image is cached people have more than just the countdown to go on.
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