How to mail HTML/CSS output as attachment?

Tags: php,css,email,pdf-generation

Problem :

I contribute to a business software suite with a backend coded in PHP. Our client has made the request that our reports as we know them -- full of charts, tables, visual flourishes -- be emailable. They will schedule a time for certain mails to go off on a per-user basis and it will run a report with the options they desire, then essentially copy what's been output and mail them.

We do something like this already, but it's a very exhaustive process to teach these reports how to go from the screen to email; floating divs are a mess, various styles broken by Outlook 2007.

I'm inquiring on how to take the output and save it as something attachable to the email. That would be their report. Presently we just print out an HTML email directly from the cron-run PHP file.

I've looked into PDF converters and they will probably not work out; we can live without charts, but a lot of our styling won't be interpreted correctly by the PDF. The ideal product is one that would "screenshot" our output and save it as a JPG, if such a thing is possible to exist. My question is basically, does anyone know how to save us tons of work for a better product by putting output into a JPG? I know it has to be rendered from the browser, it's probably a silly notion but hopefully someone can lead me in the right direction.

Solution :

In my personal experience, as i've done this for our platform, we generate the html as a regular page and then email it, taking care of using relative paths for images, and then using PHPMailer for sending it through a SMTP server.

We send the reports as the main mail body, not as an attachment.

As an additional hint, we use Javascript libraries for the charts, and as an intermediate step, render the charts as PNG via CasperJS, that way we can develop very good looking charts in Chrome/Firefox, and then render those statically for sending via email.

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