W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-mail@w3.org > February 2007

Re: No subset for email

From: Pierre Saslawsky <pierre@photobiker.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 14:13:17 -0800
Message-Id: <B569EE4D-68B6-48E2-AFBA-B61C22F2F9CC@photobiker.com>
Cc: public-html-mail@w3.org
To: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>

> PS> CSS is a good example, especially with
> PS> positioning and editable content. It will allow companies to  
> design
> PS> their own templates and produce corporate-looking documents  
> directly
> PS> into the emailer instead of having to send PDF files or MS-Word
> PS> documents as attachments.
> Yes, where a complete HTML attachment is created and where the HTML
> engine both understands CSS to some reasonable level and can deal with
> cid URI schemes (in the case of external stylesheets), that would be a
> good way forward.

I believe the IE/Gecko/WebKit-based emailers all support 'cid'-linked  
external stylesheets. I remember noticing problems with @import rules  
inside these stylesheets but it wouldn't be a blocking issue.

> PS> Why not for instance allow URLs in the recipients list? Clicking
> PS> "Send" would mail the completed form to the email recipients with
> PS> SMTP and submit the data to the specified URLs with HTTP.
> Can the action URI for a form itself be mailto: IIRC it can.

Yes, we could consider that a 'mailto:' action inside a Mail Compose  
window sends the completed form to the specified recipients, instead  
of bringing up another Compose window as it traditionally does.

> PS> If you try to constrain HTML mail to what people legitimately need
> PS> for Instant Messaging and blog comments, you will end up with a  
> rich-
> PS> text subset of HTML which is all but doomed to failure.
> I agree you end up with a rich text subset; its not clear why its
> doomed to failure.

I think we have to stop thinking about email as consisting only of  
user-generated content. There is no reason why users are able to  
publish their blogs using any template they like when it comes to  
expressing publicly their moods and opinions, and yet are still  
constrained to pure-text, or poor "rich"-text, to communicate  
privately with the persons who are closest to them.

Companies already use HTML and CSS extensively when sending bulk-mail  
to their customers. They won't come back to rich-text. On the  
opposite, personal emailers are going to catch up with corporate  
products. Apple Mail in Leopard[1] offers a set of stationery  
templates which might just be for now non-editable socially-correct  
eye-candy with some proprietary extensions to add flashy little  
tricks when composing a message, but imagine if emailers could all  
import and share fully standard compliant HTML + CSS templates... Of  
course, the authors of the thousands of stylesheets that are used to  
style blog pages would start creating email templates that match the  
look of their blogs. An email would look like a little blog entry  
written just for you. Personalization does matter; Blogger and  
MySpace would have never had the success they had if everybody was  
still using Lynx.

I think the only point where the need for an HTML subset in email  
recoups the needs in Instant Messaging and blog comments would be in  
the "contentEditable" parts of an email template. Still, in that  
case, the limitation would have to be in the authoring tools, not in  
the specifications of what can be transmitted over the wire, nor what  
should be accepted by the receiving client.

On a side-note, I find it amusing how some of the most vocal  
proponents of web standards push for their early and complete  
adoption in browsers and authoring tools, and yet want to keep them  
off their email. End-users will not have such qualms.


[1] http://www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/mail.html
Received on Friday, 23 February 2007 22:13:42 UTC

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