24 days of Rust - lettre

lettre is a library to send emails over SMTP from our Rust applications. Like many other crates in the growing, but still young Rust ecosystem, it is still a work in progress. But while there are a few features missing from lettre, we can send some emails right now!

Just send the email already

Let's start with something simple: send a plain Hello Rust email. Here's our first approach with lettre:

extern crate lettre;

use lettre::email::EmailBuilder;
use lettre::transport::EmailTransport;

fn main() {
    let email = EmailBuilder::new()
        .subject("Hello Rust!")
        .body("Hello Rust!")
        .expect("Failed to build message");
    let mut transport = smtp::SmtpTransportBuilder::localhost()
        .expect("Failed to create transport")
    println!("{:?}", transport.send(email.clone()));

The EmailBuilder exposes a fluent API to create an email message. Apart from the methods shown above, we can set additional headers, CC and reply addresses, or an HTML body. Finally the build() method ends the chain and returns a Result<Email, Error>. So what happens if we run this example?

$ cargo run
Err(Io(Error { repr: Os { code: 111, message: "Connection refused" } }))

Oops... But notice that we used localhost() in the transport configuration. More often than not we won't have an SMTP server installed and running on our local machine. Let's use GMail as our email backend instead:

use std::env;

let mut transport = smtp::SmtpTransportBuilder::new(("smtp.gmail.com", smtp::SUBMISSION_PORT))
    .expect("Failed to create transport")
println!("{:?}", transport.send(email.clone()));

We're reading GMail credentials from environment variables in order not to hardcode them in our program. If all goes well, after running this code we should receive an email!

The SendableEmail trait

We don't need to use EmailBuilder every time we want to send an email. The send() method of the transport requires its argument to implement SendableEmail, nothing else. For example, if we have a custom reporting system that already has a notion of a report's recipient, we can implement SendableEmail for the Report type and send that instead.

extern crate uuid;

use lettre::email::SendableEmail;

struct Report {
    contents: String,
    recipient: String,

impl SendableEmail for Report {
    fn from_address(&self) -> String {

    fn to_addresses(&self) -> Vec<String> {

    fn message(&self) -> String {
        format!("\nHere's the report you asked for:\n\n{}", self.contents)

    fn message_id(&self) -> String {

let report = Report {
    contents: "Some very important report".to_string(),
    recipient: "zbigniew@siciarz.net".to_string(),
transport.send(report).expect("Failed to send the report");

Frankly speaking, this trait doesn't feel like it has a complete API yet. Most notably, there's no way to set the subject. I hope it's just an oversight and a relevant method will be added to the trait in some future version of lettre.

There are a few more missing things in this crate. At the moment, the most important feature that's not implemented is the ability to attach files to emails. However, this is being worked on. Also, a Mailgun backend is already in progress.

Remember that lettre is still at a 0.x version number, but it's gaining traction. And hopefully gaining more contributors as well :)

Further reading

  • mailstrom - a crate using lettre for mass email delivery
  • sendgrid a Rust client for SendGrid API

Photo by Jaroslav Kuba and shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License. See https://www.flickr.com/photos/foto-kouba/6299871278/