I joined SEOmoz recently. I really like a couple aspects of how they engage their community. One example is the emails they send for watched threads. Rather then the simple text the default XF install sends, their e-mails are much more engaging.
Can anyone tell me if this type of e-mail is with template edits? Or would an add-on be required?
My more specific question would be, would the HTML in the template have access to user avatars, forum node names, user names, and forum thread titles/content necessary to send that information? I know templates have limited visibility to data, I have no understanding how it would work from a phrase.
You don't have access to that information in that phrase. Code changes are required.
I did some poking around and it looks like the variables that are available to that phrase are defined in the email templates. Here is the email template for that phrase which defines all available variables:
Getting a lot closer. Final question. Is adding the missing variables such as reply.avatar, the first ?50 chars of the thread, node name, etc as simple as adding them to that XML file? Or is it more involved?