Extending the compose UI with compose actions

In addition to providing a card-based interface when a user is reading a Gmail message, G Suite add-ons that extend Gmail can provide another interface when the user is composing new messages or replying to existing ones. This allows G Suite add-ons to automate the task of composing emails for the user.

Accessing the add-on compose UI

There are two ways to view an add-on's compose UI. The first way is to start composing a new draft or reply while the add-on is already open. The second way is to start the add-on while composing a draft.

Either case causes the add-on to execute the corresponding compose trigger function, defined in the add-on manifest. The compose trigger function builds the compose UI for that compose action, which Gmail then displays to the user.

Building a compose add-on

You can add compose functionality to an add-on by following these general steps:

  1. Add the gmail.composeTrigger field to the add-on script project manifest and update the manifest scopes to include those required for compose actions.
  2. Implement a compose trigger function that builds a compose UI when the trigger fires. Compose trigger functions return either a single Card object or an array of Card objects that comprise the compose UI for the compose action.
  3. Implement associated callback functions needed to react to the user's compose UI interactions. These functions are not the compose action itself (which only causes the compose UI to appear); rather, these are the individual functions that govern what happens when different elements of the compose UI are selected. For example, a UI card containing a button usually has an associated callback function that executes when a user clicks that button. The callback function for widgets that update the draft message content should return a UpdateDraftActionResponse object.

Compose trigger function

An add-on's compose UI is built the same way as the add-on's message UI—using the Apps Script Card service to construct cards and fill them with widgets.

You must implement the gmail.composeTrigger.selectActions[].runFunction that you define in your manifest. The compose trigger function must return either a single Card object or an array of Card objects that comprise the compose UI for that action. These functions are very similar to contextual trigger functions and should build cards in the same way.

Compose trigger event objects

When a compose action is selected, it executes the corresponding compose trigger function and passes the function an event object as a parameter. The event object can carry information about the add-on context and the draft being composed to the trigger function.

See Event object structure for details on how information is arranged in the event object. The information contained in the event object is partially controlled by the value of the gmail.composeTrigger.draftAccess manifest field:

Inserting content into active drafts

Typically a G Suite add-on compose UI provides the user options and control that help compose a message. For these use cases, once the user has made selections in the UI the add-on interprets the selections and updates the current working email draft accordingly.

To make it easier to update the current draft email, the Card service has been extended with the following classes:

Typically an add-on compose UI includes a 'Save' or 'Insert' widget that a user can click to indicate they are done making selections in the UI and want their choices to be added to the email they are composing. To add this interactivity, the widget should have an associated Action object that instructs the add-on to run a specific callback function when the widget is clicked. You must implement these callback functions. Each callback function should return a built UpdateDraftActionResponse object that details the changes to make to the current draft email.

Example

The following code snippet shows how to build a compose UI that inserts images into the current draft email.

    /**
     * Compose trigger function that fires when the compose UI is
     * requested. Builds and returns a compose UI for inserting images.
     *
     * @param {event} e The compose trigger event object. Not used in
     *         this example.
     * @return {Card[]}
     */
    function getInsertImageComposeUI(e) {
      return [buildImageComposeCard()];
    }

    /**
     * Build a card to display images from a third-party source.
     *
     * @return {Card}
     */
    function buildImageComposeCard() {
      // Get a short list of image URLs to display in the UI.
      // This function is not shown in this example.
      var imageUrls = getImageUrls();

      var card = CardService.newCardBuilder();
      var cardSection = CardService.newCardSection().setHeader('My Images');
      for (var i = 0; i < imageUrls.length; i++) {
        var imageUrl = imageUrls[i];
        cardSection.addWidget(
            CardService.newImage()
                .setImageUrl(imageUrl)
                .setOnClickAction(CardService.newAction()
                      .setFunctionName('applyInsertImageAction')
                      .setParameters({'url' : imageUrl})));
      }
      return card.addSection(cardSection).build();
    }

    /**
     * Adds an image to the current draft email when the image is clicked
     * in the compose UI. The image is inserted at the current cursor
     * location. If any content of the email draft is currently selected,
     * it is deleted and replaced with the image.
     *
     * Note: This is not the compose action that builds a compose UI, but
     * rather an action taken when the user interacts with the compose UI.
     *
     * @param {event} e The incoming event object.
     * @return {UpdateDraftActionResponse}
     */
    function applyInsertImageAction(e) {
      var imageUrl = e.parameters.url;
      var imageHtmlContent = '<img style=\"display: block\" src=\"'
           + imageUrl + '\"/>';
      var response = CardService.newUpdateDraftActionResponseBuilder()
          .setUpdateDraftBodyAction(CardService.newUpdateDraftBodyAction()
              .addUpdateContent(
                  imageHtmlContent,
                  CardService.ContentType.MUTABLE_HTML)
              .setUpdateType(
                  CardService.UpdateDraftBodyType.IN_PLACE_INSERT))
          .build();
      return response;
    }