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Outlook 2007 now using MS Word rendering engine
HTML and CSS parsing limited
SuzyUK




msg:3214506
 11:04 am on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Introduction to HTML Parsing and Rendering in Outlook 2007

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 uses the HTML parsing and rendering engine from Microsoft Office Word 2007 to display HTML message bodies. The same HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS) support available in Word 2007 is available in Outlook 2007.

source [msdn2.microsoft.com] (Part 1 of 2)

Word 2007 only supports a subset of both HTML and CSS this could limit your HTML emails

 

alfaguru




msg:3215084
 7:05 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

< The following 2 messages were spliced on to this thread from another location >


If support for web standards in browsers is improving slowly, then support in email clients is moving at a glacial pace. Attempts to document things like CSS support in the major email clients have revealed a depressing state of affairs, but with recent desktop clients like Thunderbird now sitting on solid rendering engines, things have been looking up.

All that changed when Microsoft dropped a lump of coal into every web developer's stocking with the end-of-year release to business customers, and the upcoming consumer release, of Outlook 2007.

Microsoft Breaks HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007 [sitepoint.com]

[edited by: tedster at 12:28 am (utc) on Jan. 11, 2007]

alfaguru




msg:3215087
 7:07 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why have they done this? Maybe they want to discourage the legitimate use of HTML email to make it easier to spot spammers :-)

bill




msg:3215568
 3:53 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I force all mail in Outlook to display as plain text to begin with, so this change won't affect me much. However, I can see how this might limit some of the abuse of HTML mail via Outlook. I just hope that the Word 2007 rendering is secure.

Isn't the integration of IE into all aspects of Windows one of the things all the antitrust suits focused on? This is Microsoft pulling back from that level of integration.

koan




msg:3215585
 4:21 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

HTML email, outside of one way communications such as newsletters, is a terrible idea anyway (for a list of arguments, search for "why html email is bad" or something like that).

And I wouldn't call the code that Word export as HTML. More like a semi-proprietary tag soup from hell.

tedster




msg:3215599
 4:44 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

the code that Word export

Yes, Word exports awful code. However, this news is actually the flip side of that issue. We're talking about how Word RENDERS html and css, no matter how that code was originally created. You can get some idea of the limitations by opening an html file in Word, instead of in your browser. It certainly does have "limitations."

I sometime ask non-technical clients to open a web page that they want to edit in Word, and make the changes they want in that doc -- with "track changes" turned on to highlight for me where their edits are. So I have been up close and personal with the way that the Word rendering engine can mangle valid and relatively simple html+css.

This news makes me very happy that I've kept most clients away from html emails.

daveVk




msg:3215684
 7:06 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I fear this may lead to more word documents being emailed, while poor at rendering clean html, assumably it does better job of rendering is own output?

grelmar




msg:3215751
 9:12 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

...assumably it does better job of rendering is own output?

Sure, but it's word 2007, which has a spankin' new engine and native document format. It's going to create nightmares of compatibility issues for that vast bulk of individuals and companies that are going to take years to take up Vista and the new Office.

Look at it as another selling point to start pushing your clients away from Outlook.

I still use MS for an OS, on some computers, but I have zero sympathy left for anyone who has anything web-facing that comes out of Redmond. There's no excuse for it at any level, from the home user to Enterprise levels there are far superior, and usually cheaper, alternatives.

pageoneresults




msg:3215816
 11:08 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I sometime ask non-technical clients to open a web page that they want to edit in Word, and make the changes they want in that doc -- with "track changes" turned on to highlight for me where their edits are.

tedster, great idea. I have them do this from IE...

File > Send > Page by E-mail

I tell them to make sure the message is in html format. I then have them make their change right in Outlook, highlight them and send them off to me. This process has been the quickest and simplest method of making on the fly changes for the client.

aleksl




msg:3215915
 1:44 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

another selling point to start pushing your clients away from Outlook.

more like pushing business users to upgrade to new OS

grelmar




msg:3215997
 2:36 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

more like pushing business users to upgrade to new OS

I dunno...

I'm no big fan of Windows, but it's just too much of a migration to ask enterprise customers to drop it. The vast amount of installed software that's dependent on Windows pretty much negates the chance of any big shifts in the business community.

However, moving their web-facing apps away from Outlook and Internet Explorer is a more achievable goal. It's just two apps in the pile. You could use security and "brand-ability" as key selling points.

If the business community went to a diverse range of web-facing apps, then security overall would improve. You would see the end of the "fat target" of a browser or e-mail client with 80% market share. Each different browser and e-mail client has it's own set of vulnerabilities, but they need to be exploited individually. This would reduce and fragment the impact of any malware attack.

And don't underestimate branding. Many browsers and e-mail clients support client created "skins" - just think of the feel-good aspect of that to an exec. Each company would be able to brand their browser and e-mail client with their own logos and corporate color scheme. Senior execs love that kind of stuff. They know that the first step in establishing strong brand recognition, is embedding that recognition within their own staff.

Down the raod, you could do that with highly skinned and customized versions of Linux, but right now, it's just far too much to ask for that big of a leap. The first step is to start moving them, application by application, to programs that are platform independent.

Just thinking out loud. Actually, I've been thinking this for a while, just haven't much spoken about it.

SuzyUK




msg:3217864
 11:34 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I too force all mail to display as plain text (though with thunderbird and spampal add-ons I'm likely going way too far! even though they catch those penny stock things too ;)) - but isn't that the tech geek, know what we're looking for, POV in us lot?

good point about the anti-trust reason this is likely the best place they can "comply" and in the long run it may actually work in their favour as well as helping the masses with the spammers, presuming the masses still use MS and Outlook that is and know how Word works.

My guess would be that most won't care that the file sizes have just increased and that MS will come up smelling of roses on this one, they just dumbed down something that might actually benefit from it

bill




msg:3219584
 9:15 am on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Outlook and IE have probably been the single two biggest vectors for virii and other bad things getting into the user's PC. MS is working to improve security on both products, and like it or not both of these products lead their respective markets, and will continue to do so for the immediate future.

MS is changing the face of HTML mail with this move. People who design HTML mail messages will have to use a more limited feature set if they want to reach the majority of the market.

There's an article on MSDN that those of you who design HTML e-mail might want to refer to:

  • Word 2007 HTML and CSS Rendering Capabilities in Outlook 2007 (Part 1 of 2) [msdn2.microsoft.com]
  • Word 2007 HTML and CSS Rendering Capabilities in Outlook 2007 (Part 2 of 2) [msdn2.microsoft.com]
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