HTML Email Standards

I really do not like HTML emails. I dislike the composition, I hate the disparity in the way they are rendered, I get irritated with the performance and I lament the lack of standards and accessibility across the email clients. I had not given enough thought to it other than reading good articles on them. Unfortunately I know many who use it, and worse, who expect it. So, the only way ahead is to do for email clients what was done for browsers – improve the experience using standards, and someone is thinking about it.

Matthew Patterson announced launch of the Email Standards Project, which is an concrete step in this direction. If you can spare some time, read through the site, and you will be able to answer questions like why are the standards necessary and what can we do about it.

I hope it does not go the browser way, where we are still struggling to get them all on the same ground. You can already see some biggies like Google Gmail and Outlook failing the acid test.

I think there will be a lot of overlap with the generic web standards and I wonder if it should fall under that umbrella. Irrespective of that I hope this gets attention enough to shake up the industry and make it realize that standards are important for the you and me, even if they are only about the email.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Douglas Karr said:

    The largest company to take a step back has actually been Microsoft. With Office 2007, they rolled back support for simple HTML 4 objects such as forms and use the Word editor by default.

    I would extend beyond simple notation requirements and add that there needs to be support for embed and script tags to take email to the next level. If applications such as Microsoft want to limit how emails are viewed, they should provide automatic feedback to the user… “This email contains functionality that Outlook does not support, would you like to open the email in your default browser instead?”.

    It really is terrible that many common clients won’t even support XHTML! Our rule of thumb when I worked at an ESP was HTML4.0 OR LESS!

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Valid point about the automatic feedback there Doug.

Say your thought!

If you want to use HTML you can use these tags: <a>, <em>, <strong>, <abbr>, <code>, <blockquote>. Closing the tags will be appreciated as this site uses valid XHTML.



Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
+91 9819820312
My bookmarks


This is the weblog of Abhijit Nadgouda where he writes down his thoughts on software development and related topics. You are invited to subscribe to the feed to stay updated or check out more subscription options. Or you can choose to browse by one of the topics.