One feature that I had in mind for the 1.1 release of Kalzumeus (does it even make sense to have a 1.1 version of a webapp?  Well, you get the general drift) was the ability to send a real, honest-to-God postal mail in an automated fashion.  It is a requirement with legal significance for some of my customers, and all of my customers would see the ability and go “Oooh, that would save me so much hassle”.  I have been searching for a good way to do this for a while.  Obviously, doing it myself would transform me from a highly-paid software developer to a low-paid postal clerk, which is frankly stupid when there are plenty of businesses out there which offer ways to do it without ever having to lick a stamp.

I was originally planning on using the Post Office’s API.  They have a service called NetPost which is aimed at direct marketers.  The prices are pretty high for one piece ($2.25 or so) but reasonable if you’re sending hundreds, I guess.  I used to use this any time I needed to send a letter to America which didn’t need a physical signature on it, since it costs about the same as sending a letter internationally and gets there a week earlier.

However, cost issues aside ($2.25 is dwarfed by the number of sales this will get me, and I can probably charge extra for it for customers who use it on a regular basis), I really hate having to learn another API.  It is one more thing that can go wrong with my application, and the consequences of a letter not being sent when my app reports it sent are rather severe.  Then today I ran into a site called Postful, which has a much more convenient interface — send them an email, they send out a letter.  You preload your account in advance and after that its $.99 a letter for one page, which is where all the letters I’d be sending are.

Composing an email to my requirements is trivial, since I already have the exact same functionality elsewhere in the program to deliver this notification via email.   As a result, this will probably get into the 1.0 release of Kalzumeus.

As an extra bonus, I can now save myself $1.25 the next time I have to send out a letter to the States.  Yay.