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Now this is how to send a preview email...

In a few of the apps I've written there's been the need to show users a preview of a newsletter email or stock alert email. Before AJAX was widely known and available, you used to have to provide some action that would submit a form and refresh the page in the browser, perhaps interrupting the flow of the user's experience in the process. But today I noticed that the email service provider iContact has a great way of handling one-off preview emails without making you leave the page you're on.

iContact realized that when composing an email that you probably want to preview it as an email before sending it to all of your customers. Instead of opening a popup window or taking you away from the compose form, iContact does a very smart thing: they show you a small form at the bottom of the page where you can enter the email address that the preview email should be sent to. When you click on the form's "Send" button, text appears in the form that tells you the status of the email:


When the email has been sent off, the message changes to tell you so:


It's a simple idea, and not too hard to implement. I wish more sites would let you perform small tasks like this so that you could concentrate on the main form. Does anybody else have examples like this?