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Re: identified focus areas

From: HTeuMeuLeu <remi@hteumeuleu.fr>
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2014 13:17:22 +0100
Message-ID: <CAKZ2RFbNhXu9ATj+PO02SPhcYicoQd8W2gt-ZNbfo6LBZmy+=Q@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-htmail@w3.org
Hello,

This is my first participation in a W3C community group. And as a front-end
developer, I think I can bring some help regarding this topic that have
caused, and still causes me many headaches. I'm not exactly sure how to
start the conversation here, so I'll start with this little rant.

HTML e-mail coding is the nemesis of most front-end developers and
webdesigners. I, on the contrary, have this extraordinary ability to
tolerate it, and even sometimes enjoy the mess that is HTML e-mail coding.
HTML e-mails are a very important marketing and branding tool, even in this
age of social networks. Yet, it seems like it is stuck in a dark age, like
web development used to be more than ten years ago, before CSS became
widely adopted. The biggest point of concern that come to my mind  is CSS
support .

CSS support is hazardous. Except from basic text based properties
(font-size, font-family, etc.), other properties tend not to have a wide
enough support to safely code complex layouts. And sometimes, webmails can
unpredictably remove support for some properties for no apparent reason.
For example, in january 2013, Outlook.com stopped supporting the margin
property (
http://www.emailonacid.com/blog/details/C13/emailology_outlook_marginalizing_css_properties),
stripping it from the code before being displayed in the webmail. This
means that we still need to rely heavily on tables for layout, which in
turns become a headache for responsive e-mails. Campaign Monitor has a good
overview of support in email software and webmails (
http://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/).

The proprietary nature of webmails and most mail software also tends to be
a big problem, because it leads to difficulty for testing, and for
understanding some terrible bugs. For example, Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013
use Word HTML rendering engine, which cause to create "page breaks" every
1790px, which can completely break a layout (
http://www.emailonacid.com/blog/details/C13/horizontal_spacing_issues_in_outlook_2007_and_2010
).

My expectations from this working group is to understand why webmails or
mail software have such a bad support for web rendering, and to help make
the situation evolve. This is clearly a lengthy project, just like the
advocacy for CSS usage in the early 2000. Such a project was already
started in 2007 (http://www.email-standards.org/), but with fewer
expectations, and abandonned since 2010. But it needs to be done at some
point, or we'll be stuck in this dark age of HTML emails forever.

Rémi
Received on Thursday, 30 January 2014 16:40:48 UTC

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