The Telegraph's Matt comic email tool


The Telegraph's email newsletter team aimed to launch a weekly email featuring all of Matt's cartoons from the week. However, two key challenges needed addressing:


The digital comics were housed in the site's gallery pages. A site editor would scan the comic, create a new page, and upload the image to the CMS. The site's RSS feed served as an unofficial API, enabling me to scrape the comic images and their publication dates.

I developed a React application that retrieved the latest RSS feed from Matt's Gallery, extracted the images and dates, and stored them locally. The previous week's comics were accessible either by inputting a date or through navigation, triggering the relevant RSS feed fetch and parse.

Having acquired the data, I was prepared to create the custom email images using the browser's Canvas API.

With the image URLs from the parsed data, I could retrieve and render the comic images onto the <canvas>. The images, being hosted on a separate domain, activated the browser's Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) protection. From previous experience, I circumvented this by setting up a CORS image proxy, which added allow-all: * response headers.

The next step involved adding the weekday text. I used transparent PNGs of each weekday, created by Matt, to mask the original headline with a white box and overlay the weekday image.

Finally, I implemented a download feature for email editors to export the custom images. Utilising the Canvas API, I converted the image into a blob, transformed it into a Data URL, and initiated a file download.

A subsequent feature addition the following week allowed for manual image uploads, providing a safeguard against inconsistencies in the original gallery.

This tool enabled the successful launch of the new email newsletter within a week, without requiring additional backend services.

Project skills