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Guide to Simple Email Service (AWS SES) with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud

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Introduction

AWS SES (Simple Email Service) is a simple-to-setup email sending and receiving service. It is usually difficult, finicky and tedious to manage an on-premise email system, so outsourcing the process is a popular choice.

We can use Amazon SES to send transactional emails, marketing emails, or any other kind of notification emails to our clients. It is an affordable solution for businesses of all sizes who use emails to connect with their customers since it is built on the dependable and scalable infrastructure of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

For sending bulk emails, any application may interact with Amazon SES. We only pay for the emails we actually send, whether they are transactional emails or marketing emails. Additionally, a range of configurations, including dedicated, shared, or owned IP addresses, are supported by Amazon SES. Businesses can make every email count with the use of deliverability dashboards and reports on sender information.

In this guide we are going to configure an AWS SES instance in a region and then integrate with Spring Cloud for AWS which is a sub-project of Spring Cloud. We will try out different scenarios to send emails from our application.

Note: You can find all the source code used in the guide on Github.

Lifecycle of Sending an Email using AWS SES

Let’s look at how the lifecycle of an email sent by an application reaches to destination mailbox:

  • An application, in our case, the Spring Cloud code requests AWS SES to send an email to one or more recipients.

  • SES initially verifies the request, and if it is approved, produces an email message with the request’s specifications. This email message has a header, body, and envelope and complies with RFC 5322‘s Internet Message Format definition.

  • SES then transmits the message to the recipient’s receiver over the Internet. As soon as the message is handed off to SES, it is often transmitted right away, with the initial delivery attempt typically taking place in a matter of milliseconds.

  • There are several outcomes at this time. For instance:

    • Successful Delivery: The Internet service provider (ISP) accepts the email and sends it to the intended recipient.
    • Hard Bounce: Because the recipient’s address is invalid, the ISP rejects the email. The ISP sends the hard bounce notification back to Amazon SES, which notifies the sender through email or by publishing it to an Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) topic set up to receive this notification.
    • Soft Bounce: Due to conditions like the receiver’s inbox being full, the domain not existing, or any passing circumstance like the ISP being too busy to process the request, the ISP might be unable to deliver the email to the recipient. The ISP then retries the email up to a certain number of times and sends SES a soft bounce message. If SES is unable to deliver the email within the specified time frame, it either publishes the event to an SNS topic or sends a hard bounce message via email.
    • Complaint: The email is classified as spam by the receiver in their email program. A complaint notification is transmitted to Amazon SES, which then relays it to the sender if Amazon SES and the ISP have a feedback loop established up.
    • Auto Response: The recipient ISP notifies Amazon SES of an automated response from the receiver, such as an out-of-office notice, and Amazon SES passes the notification to the sender.

When the delivery is unsuccessful, Amazon SES returns an error to the sender and deletes the email.

Setting Up Amazon SES

Unlike any other AWS Services, there’s practically no need to create an SES instance as all new AWS accounts are placed in the AWS SES sandbox by default. Each AWS account has sandbox access for AWS SES in the available regions by default.

When using sandbox mode, we can only send emails to verified identities. A domain or email address that we use to send an email is a verified identity. We must construct and validate each identity we intend to use as a From, To, Source, Sender, or Return-Path address before we can send an email using SES in sandbox mode. By using Amazon SES to verify the identity, we can prove our ownership and stop illegal use.

To avoid fraud and preserve the reputation of an IP address, AWS SES includes email sending limits. These limitations specify the maximum number of emails per second and the daily email limit for each user. By getting in touch with the AWS Support Center, we may establish such quotas by region.

Let’s verify identities. Login to AWS Console and search for “Amazon Simple Email Service”:

SES Intro

Then click on “Create Identity” to add an email or a domain for verification. In our case, we are going to add an email for verification.

Create Identity

Once, the identity is created, we can verify the details.

Created Identity

The identity that we created goes into “Verification Pending” stage. At this stage, the user needs to check the verification mail from AWS and follow the instructions to get the email verified.

Verified Identity

Next, we need to fetch “access-key” and “secret-key” for the authentication and authorization of our application with SES. In order to generate that, we need to create a User Group and add a User to that group. When we create that User, AWS generates an access-key and secret-key. So let’s redirect to “IAM” in AWS Console and create User Group.

Create User Group

Then we need to add “AdministratorAccess” permission to that group for SES.

Add Permission

Finally, we will add a User to the above group.

Add User

Next, we need to select the group for permissions.

Add Group

Finally, copy the access-key and secret-key displayed on the screen for further usage.

Sending Emails using Spring Cloud Project

Project Setup

Let’s spin up a Spring Cloud project and run through the use-cases to integrate with SES. The easiest way to start with a skeleton project is via Spring Initializr:

Spring Initializr

We have added Spring Web for REST MVC, Apache Freemarker to generate HTML-based email templates, Java Mail Sender to send an email and Lombok (optional boilerplate-reducing library) dependencies. Additionally, we need to add relevant dependencies for Spring Cloud AWS and SES. For Spring Cloud AWS, we will add a separate Spring Cloud AWS BOM in our pom.xml file using this block:

<dependencyManagement>
	<dependencies>
		<dependency>
			<groupId>io.awspring.cloud</groupId>
			<artifactId>spring-cloud-aws-dependencies</artifactId>
			<version>2.3.0</version>
			<type>pom</type>
			<scope>import</scope>
		</dependency>
	</dependencies>
</dependencyManagement>

Finally, to add the support for SES, we need to include the module dependency which is available as a starter module spring-cloud-starter-aws-ses:

<dependency>
	<groupId>io.awspring.cloud</groupId>
	<artifactId>spring-cloud-starter-aws-ses</artifactId>
</dependency>

spring-cloud-starter-aws-ses includes the transitive dependencies for spring-cloud-starter-aws, and spring-cloud-aws-ses. The spring-cloud-aws-ses module for SES contains two classes: SimpleEmailServiceMailSender and SimpleEmailServiceJavaMailSender.

  • The SimpleEmailServiceMailSender class utilizes Amazon Simple Email Service to send emails. The Java Mail API is not a requirement for this implementation. It may be used to send straightforward mail messages devoid of attachments.
  • The SimpleEmailServiceJavaMailSender class enables the sending of emails that contain attachments and other mime elements.

So this covers all our basic requirements!

Configuring Beans

As discussed above, we need to define two types of beans: SimpleEmailServiceMailSender and SimpleEmailServiceJavaMailSender. We can simply pass the access-key and secret-key as credentials and configure a MailSender bean which we will use to send emails:

@Configuration
public class SesConfig {

    @Value("${cloud.aws.credentials.access-key}")
    private String accessKey;

    @Value("${cloud.aws.credentials.secret-key}")
    private String secretKey;

    @Value("${cloud.aws.region.static}")
    private String region;

    @Bean
    public AmazonSimpleEmailService amazonSimpleEmailService() {
        BasicAWSCredentials credentials = new BasicAWSCredentials(accessKey, secretKey);
        return AmazonSimpleEmailServiceClientBuilder.standard()
                .withCredentials(new AWSStaticCredentialsProvider(credentials))
                .withRegion(region)
                .build();
    }

    @Bean
    public MailSender mailSender(AmazonSimpleEmailService amazonSimpleEmailService) {
        return new SimpleEmailServiceMailSender(amazonSimpleEmailService);
    }

    @Bean
    public JavaMailSender javaMailSender(AmazonSimpleEmailService amazonSimpleEmailService) {
        return new SimpleEmailServiceJavaMailSender(amazonSimpleEmailService);
    }
}

In order to send emails with attachments we need to configure the SimpleEmailServiceJavaMailSender which is an implementation of the JavaMailSender interface from Spring’s mail abstraction.

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We will also define the properties to retrieve the information from application.yml:

cloud:
  aws:
    region:
      static: eu-central-1
      auto: false
    stack:
      auto: false
    credentials:
      access-key: ********
      secret-key: **************************

Sending Simple Email

We can send simple emails using the SimpleEmailServiceMailSender bean that we configured above. Let’s define a service layer to use this bean:

@Service
public class EmailService {

    @Autowired
    private MailSender mailSender;

    public void sendMessage(SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage) {
        this.mailSender.send(simpleMailMessage);
    }
}

We are calling the send() method in the MailSender bean to send our email. We also need to pass the SimpleMailMessage that would contain attributes like from, to, the text and subject for our email. So, let’s define a Controller class to call the above service using a REST API:

@RestController
public class EmailController {

    @Autowired
    private EmailService emailService;

    @PostMapping("/sendEmail")
    public String sendMessage(@RequestBody EmailDetails emailDetails) {
        SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage = new SimpleMailMessage();
        simpleMailMessage.setFrom(emailDetails.getFromEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setTo(emailDetails.getToEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setSubject(emailDetails.getSubject());
        simpleMailMessage.setText(emailDetails.getBody());
        emailService.sendMessage(simpleMailMessage);

        return "Email sent successfully";
    }
}

Now, if we run the application and execute the following curl it will send an email to the verified email address:

curl -i -X POST 
   -H "Content-Type:application/json" 
   -d 
'{
  "fromEmail": "[email protected]",
  "toEmail": "[email protected]",
  "subject": "test email",
  "body": "Hi, This is a test email."
}' 
 'http://localhost:8080/sendEmail'

Next, we can login to the recipient’s mail address and verify if the recipient has received the email.

Sending Simple Email with Attachment

We will define a service layer to pass the attachment as mime and set the other email attributes like from, to, text and subject:

@Service
public class EmailService {

    @Autowired
    private JavaMailSender javaMailSender;

    public void sendMessageWithAttachment(SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage) {

        try {
            MimeMessage message = javaMailSender.createMimeMessage();

            
            MimeMessageHelper helper = new MimeMessageHelper(
                    message,
                    MimeMessageHelper.MULTIPART_MODE_MIXED_RELATED,
                    StandardCharsets.UTF_8.name());

            
            helper.addAttachment("logo.png", new ClassPathResource("logo.png"));
            helper.setTo(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getTo()));
            helper.setText(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getText()));
            helper.setSubject(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getSubject()));
            helper.setFrom(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getFrom()));
            javaMailSender.send(message);

        } catch (MessagingException e) {
            System.err.println("Exception: " + e.getMessage());
        }
    }
}

Here we are using MimeMessageHelper to create an email with an attachment. Finally, we will define Controller layer to pass the SimpleMailMessage attributes:

@RestController
public class EmailController {

    @Autowired
    private EmailService emailService;

    @PostMapping("/sendEmailWithAttachment")
    public String sendMessageWithAttachment(@RequestBody EmailDetails emailDetails) {
        SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage = new SimpleMailMessage();
        simpleMailMessage.setFrom(emailDetails.getFromEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setTo(emailDetails.getToEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setSubject(emailDetails.getSubject());
        simpleMailMessage.setText(emailDetails.getBody());
        emailService.sendMessageWithAttachment(simpleMailMessage);

        return "Email sent successfully";
    }
}

Now, if we run the application and execute the following curl it will send an email to the verified email address:

curl -i -X POST 
   -H "Content-Type:application/json" 
   -d 
'{
  "fromEmail": "[email protected]",
  "toEmail": "[email protected]",
  "subject": "test email",
  "body": "Hi, This is a test email with attachment."
}' 
 'http://localhost:8080/sendEmailWithAttachment'

Next, we can login to the recipient’s mail address and verify if the recipient has received the email.

Sending Template Email with Attachment

The previous use-cases that we had seen is good for development or test scenarios but in production, we generally use an email template with variables that would be replaced using an API’s responses. We had earlier added the dependency for Apache Freemarker. We will use it to define a template and load it to process!

For this, let’s first define a simple template, name it as email-template.ftl and place it in templates folder under resources:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
    <title>StackAbuse Email</title>
</head>

<body>
<table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
    <tr>
        <td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#838383"
            style="background-color: #838383;"><br> <br>
            <table width="600" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
                <tr>
                    <td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#d3be6c"
                        style="background-color: #d3be6c; font-family: Arial,
                         Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; color: #000000;
                          padding: 0px 15px 10px 15px;">

                        <div style="font-size: 48px; color:blue;">
                            <b>StackAbuse</b>
                        </div>

                        <div style="font-size: 24px; color: #555100;">
                            <br> Sending Email using Spring Cloud with <b>FreeMarker</b> template !!! <br>
                        </div>
                        <div>
                            <br> Want to learn a new technology or become an in-demand full-stack developer?<br>
                            <br> We teach the skills you need to level up in your career.<br>
                            <br>"Sharing knowledge is the biggest learning" <br> <br>
                            <br> <br> <b>${Name}</b><br>${location}<br>
                            <br>
                        </div>
                    </td>
                </tr>
            </table> <br> <br></td>
    </tr>
</table>
</body>
</html>

Next, we need to define a configuration class to load the template from the path and add as bean. For this, we will define FreeMarkerConfigurationFactoryBean:

@Configuration
public class FreemarkerConfig {

    @Primary
    @Bean
    public FreeMarkerConfigurationFactoryBean factoryBean() {
        FreeMarkerConfigurationFactoryBean bean = new FreeMarkerConfigurationFactoryBean();
        bean.setTemplateLoaderPath("classpath:/templates");
        return bean;
    }
}

Next, we will define our service layer to load this template and create a final message to send to SES:

@Service
public class EmailService {
    
    @Autowired
    private JavaMailSender javaMailSender;

    @Autowired
    private Configuration config;
    
    public void sendTemplateMessageWithAttachment(SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage) {

        try {
            MimeMessage message = javaMailSender.createMimeMessage();

            
            MimeMessageHelper helper = new MimeMessageHelper(
                    message,
                    MimeMessageHelper.MULTIPART_MODE_MIXED_RELATED,
                    StandardCharsets.UTF_8.name());

            Template t = config.getTemplate("email-template.ftl");
            Map model = new HashMap();
            model.put("Name", "StackAbuse Admin");
            model.put("location", "Bangalore, India");
            String html = FreeMarkerTemplateUtils.processTemplateIntoString(t, model);

            
            helper.addAttachment("logo.png", new ClassPathResource("logo.png"));
            helper.setTo(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getTo()));
            helper.setText(html, true);
            helper.setSubject(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getSubject()));
            helper.setFrom(Objects.requireNonNull(simpleMailMessage.getFrom()));
            javaMailSender.send(message);

        } catch (MessagingException | IOException | TemplateException e) {
            System.err.println("Exception: " + e.getMessage());
        }
    }

Finally, we will define a Controller layer to pass the dynamic email attributes:

@RestController
public class EmailController {

    @Autowired
    private EmailService emailService;

    @PostMapping("/sendTemplateEmailWithAttachment")
    public String sendTemplateMessageWithAttachment(@RequestBody EmailDetails emailDetails) {
        SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage = new SimpleMailMessage();
        simpleMailMessage.setFrom(emailDetails.getFromEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setTo(emailDetails.getToEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setSubject(emailDetails.getSubject());
        simpleMailMessage.setText(emailDetails.getBody());
        emailService.sendTemplateMessageWithAttachment(simpleMailMessage);

        return "Email sent successfully";
    }
}

Now, if we run the application and execute the following curl it will send an email to the verified email address:

curl -i -X POST 
   -H "Content-Type:application/json" 
   -d 
'{
  "fromEmail": "[email protected]",
  "toEmail": "[email protected]",
  "subject": "test email",
  "body": "Hi, This is a test template email with attachment."
}' 
 'http://localhost:8080/sendTemplateEmailWithAttachment'

Next, we can login to the recipient’s mail address and verify if the recipient has received the email:

Freemarker Template Email

Sending Personalized Email using Templates in AWS SES

In the previous use-case we used a static template to send emails. How can we enable templates to be designed dynamically for different purposes and different types of recipients? AWS SES allows us to create email templates to send personalized emails to one or more destinations in a single operation.

We can create up to 10,000 email templates per Amazon SES account. Each template can be up to 500KB in size, including both the text and HTML parts. We can send upto 50 destinations in each call.

So let’s quickly create an email template. First, we can define a JSON file using the following template:

{
  "Template": {
    "TemplateName": "MyTemplate",
    "SubjectPart": "Greetings from {{name}}!",
    "HtmlPart": "StackAbuse Email


StackAbuse

Sending Email using Spring Cloud with AWS SES Email template !!!

Want to learn a new technology or become an in-demand full-stack developer?

We teach the skills you need to level up in your career.

"Sharing knowledge is the biggest learning"



{{name}}
{{location}}



"
, "TextPart": "Dear {{name}},rnHere is your StackAbuse Email." } }

This template contains the following attributes:

  • TemplateName: This contains the name of the template.
  • SubjectPart: This holds the email’s subject line. Replacement tags might be present on this asset. These tags are formatted as follows: {{tagname}}. You can enter a value for {{tagname}} for each destination when sending the email.
  • HtmlPart: This contains the HTML body of the email and it can also contain replacement tags.
  • TextPart: This represents the email’s text body. This version of the email is sent to recipients whose email clients do not view HTML emails. Replacement tags might be present on this asset.

We can save this file as mytemplate.json. Finally we can use an AWS CLI command to create the template as follows:

$ aws ses create-template --cli-input-json file://mytemplate.json

Next, let’s define a service layer to define attributes and send templated emails:

@Service
public class EmailService {

    @Autowired
    private AmazonSimpleEmailService simpleEmailService;

    public void sendTemplatedMessage(SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage) {

        Destination destination = new Destination();
        List toAddresses = new ArrayList();
        String[] emails = simpleMailMessage.getTo();
        Collections.addAll(toAddresses, Objects.requireNonNull(emails));
        destination.setToAddresses(toAddresses);

        SendTemplatedEmailRequest templatedEmailRequest = new SendTemplatedEmailRequest();
        templatedEmailRequest.withDestination(destination);
        templatedEmailRequest.withTemplate("MyTemplate");
        templatedEmailRequest.withTemplateData("{ "name":"StackAbuse Admin", "location": "Bangalore, India"}");
        templatedEmailRequest.withSource(simpleMailMessage.getFrom());
        simpleEmailService.sendTemplatedEmail(templatedEmailRequest);
    }
}

We can add multiple Destination addresses to send bulk emails to multiple recipients. We are using the sendTemplatedEmail() method from the AmazonSimpleEmailService interface to send this templated email. We also need to pass the replacement tags to be replaced in the HTML text of our template that we created earlier.

Finally, we will define a Controller layer to define the REST API to pass the attributes:

@RestController
public class EmailController {

    @Autowired
    private EmailService emailService;

    @PostMapping("/sendAWSTemplatedEmail")
    public String sendTemplatedMessage(@RequestBody EmailDetails emailDetails) {
        SimpleMailMessage simpleMailMessage = new SimpleMailMessage();
        simpleMailMessage.setFrom(emailDetails.getFromEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setTo(emailDetails.getToEmail());
        simpleMailMessage.setSubject(emailDetails.getSubject());
        simpleMailMessage.setText(emailDetails.getBody());
        emailService.sendTemplatedMessage(simpleMailMessage);

        return "Email sent successfully";
    }
}

Next, when we run the app, we can execute the following curl to send templated emails:

curl -i -X POST 
   -H "Content-Type:application/json" 
   -d 
'{
  "fromEmail": "[email protected]",
  "toEmail": "[email protected]",
  "subject": "Greetings from StackAbuse Admin",
  "body": "Hi, This is a AWS templated email."
}' 
 'http://localhost:8080/sendAWSTemplatedEmail'

Now the recipient finally gets to see a templated email:

Templated Email

Request Production Access

Finally, in order to send emails to any recipient, regardless of whether the receiver’s address or domain is validated, we must ultimately take our account out of the sandbox. All of our identities, including From, Source, Sender, and Return-Path addresses, must still be verified. We can submit a request for Production access from the “Account Dashboard” page as follows:

Account Dashboard
Request Production Access

We can submit the request filling up all the above details from AWS Console. The same can also be submitted using AWS CLI. This would be helpful when we need to request access for a large number of identities and would like to automate the process.

Conclusion

The key ideas of Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) and the libraries offered by Spring Cloud AWS to interface with it were covered in this article. Additionally, we created a Spring Boot application with a REST API that can send emails through the Spring Cloud AWS SES module.

You should now have a solid understanding of what Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is and how to utilize it to send emails.

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