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HTML for email Community Group

Issues around the use of HTML in email - documenting what works, what doesn't, and considering ways to improve the situation


Group's public email, repo and wiki activity over time

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Taking the reductive approach

I think a good approach to this is to take an established spec like CSS 2, and take a reductive approach. Many of the reasons we have problems with email design centers not around a lack of consensus on what to include, but rather what to exclude in the name of security/experience.

For instance, i’ve yet to see a solid use case for interactivity in email beyond the basics and things like video. Hamburger menus and progressive disclosure are fun tech experiments but they come with usability and security issues so I suggest we selectively exclude this kind of thing.

Starting to get started…

The group now has a number of participants from across a spectrum of stakeholders – client, server and webmail developers, people who produce HTML mail, and people who read it. Many have introduced themselves on the mailing list, and I hope others will continue to do so.

More importantly, we have a wiki where we can work. And a GitHub account, where there are a couple of draft compatibility tables that I hope we will expand and make far more useful.

What we are sorely missing is tests. There is the existing acid test from the email-standards project, but while it is interesting it is hard to go from there to a useful compatibility table.

It would be nice to have a testing system too, where we could produce tests and let people send them and record results…

…and of course World Peace and a Pony.

Getting going

Following the latest discussion thread in the HTML Working Group about HTML as used in email, this group has been set up as a place to get work done. Happily, people haven’t sat around waiting for someone else to start, so feel free to ignore this post and head to the mailing list archive, or log in and start editing the Wiki… There are many potential topics in the area of HTML for email, including:

  • What HTML (and beyond – SVG, script, etc) works in which clients?
  • How to generate HTML for email
  • Accessibility, Security, Internationalisation, …
  • How do we improve the situation
  • What clients are people using, anyway?

There is also quite a lot of work that has been done over the years. We’ll try to collect stuff in our Wiki, and hopefully get enough done to produce one or more “CG report”s, but a couple of starting points include:

Call for Participation in HTML for email Community Group

The HTML for email Community Group has been launched:

Issues around the use of HTML in email – documenting what works, what doesn’t, and considering ways to improve the situation

In order to join the group, you will need a W3C account.

This is a community initiative. This group was originally proposed on 2014-01-29 by Charles McCathie Nevile. The following people supported its creation: Charles McCathie Nevile, Olivier Thereaux, Stefan Mies, Felix Sasaki, Arthur Barstow, Andrew Herrington, Robin Berjon, Jenny Schmitz, David Randall, Rémi Parmentier, marie hanotte, Remi Grumeau. W3C’s hosting of this group does not imply endorsement of its activities.

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