Testing websites that use SMTP email on Vista

by Administrator Wednesday, July 18, 2007 5:29 PM

Many of the ASP.NET web applications we build use SMTP to send email for one reason or another. Order confirmations, mostly, or selected search results.

Testing code that sends email has always been a pain. We have servers with SMTP service that I could point at from my development workstation, but their various restrictions have been, well, restricting. Nor did I ever like the idea of letting SMTP run openly on my local machine in XP. Not that I had much choice, because a) I had to ensure that the code I wrote followed through with the email send, and b) I wanted to view the email as email to ensure it looked the way it ought.

So along comes Vista with IIS 7. And SMTP is not included. It is included with Longhorn Server 2008 with IIS 7 (apparently), but not Vista. I now no longer have the choice of running SMTP locally. Disaster!

Well, as it happens, I'm fine. I'm better than fine, because I stumbled across a better solution all around. I use a pickup directory location.

Using a pickup directory location lets me specify a folder on my local machine for the email generated by System.Net.Mail. It's not sent anywhere, it's just dumped in that location as a *.eml file which can be viewed by Vista's built-in Windows Mail.

The best thing is, I don't have to change my code in any way to make this happen. I only need to add a snippet to the web.config as follows, identifying the (absolute) directory for pickup:

<system.net>
  <mailSettings>
    <smtp deliveryMethod="SpecifiedPickupDirectory">
      <specifiedPickupDirectory 
pickupDirectoryLocation="v:\inetpub\mailroot\pickup"/>
    </smtp>
  </mailSettings>
</system.net>

I did have to make sure that the ASP.NET worker account, NETWORK SERVICE, had read/write access to that location.
And here's the result. One double-click and I get to see it as it would appear in my inbox:
CropperCapture[17]
Probably other developers are like, well *duh*, but this was a new and very pleasant discovery for me.

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