Here is a discovery that I came across recently while working on a clients mass mail system. I upgraded to Outlook 2007, and being the first to do so in the office have been discovering some of the cool new features. And it was all very cool until close to the clients deadline and I sent myself an HTML email from their broadcast system. No one was prepared for what came next… It would seem that the Microsoft Office team, in their infinite wisdom, decided that they didn’t want Outlook 2007 using the new improved HTML rendering engine that M$ has been working so hard on in Internet Explorer 7 to make developers and designers lives easier.
Maybe they were lazy and didn’t want to upgrade the code in Outlook, maybe it was all just too hard. But why oh why did they replace it with the HTML engine in Word???? This take HTML emails back in time, in fact many years. And it was all looking so good, with HTML based email clients, and ThunderBird leading the way in standards compliance. So the nice HTML email I built with some floating divs and backgrounds looked like a dogs breakfast, and to make it look right I had to rebuild the thing in tables. Here are some of the reasons why:
- no support for background images (HTML or CSS)
- no support for forms
- no support for Flash, or other plugins
- no support for CSS floats
- no support for replacing bullets with images in unordered lists
- no support for CSS positioning
- no support for animated GIFs
Of course there is an argument that HTML doesn’t belong in emails, therefore this isn’t an issue, but I believe there is firmly a time and a place for it. If you aren’t an Office 2007 user or don’t have it available, then you can check out the Outlook 2007 HTML compatibility tool to see how bad you HTML emails will look. you can also read more on what works and more of what doesn’t in the M$ articles Word 2007 HTML and CSS Rendering Capabilities in Outlook 2007.