[development] HTML emails

Larry Garfield larry at garfieldtech.com
Wed Jul 16 14:59:01 UTC 2008

On Wed, 16 Jul 2008 10:12:33 +0100, Matt Connolly <matt at cabinetuk.com> wrote:

> Besides, email clients have been HTML friendly for a *long* time, so I
> don't see why Drupal shouldn't have an interface that understands rich
> email messages.
> Thoughts?
> Matt

I am going to take the luddite position.  Consider yourself warned. :-)

HTML email is not, as far as I am aware, an actual standard.  It is a de facto convention for a hack of the SMTP protocol using a tool that was never built for it.  It also breaks nearly every convention of email usage (at least as far as replies are involved), and wastes gobs and gobs of bandwidth, especially for the increasing number of people on mobile devices.  It serves no purpose except to send spam (both legit and not, I am going to call all marketing emails spam even if they are solicited as a debate tactic), which means it is filtered out by mail servers more frequently.  They are also a wonderful attack vector for viruses and trojans.  As a result, many many email clients don't render HTML email by default, showing a blob of unrecognizable HTML instead.  Some moronic mail senders send out HTML emails that have no plaintext version, which makes them unreadable to many people (who do not, in fact, accept HTML email).  As others have mentioned, support for anything pos
 t-HTML 3.2 in email varies widely, and you can't exactly do client targeting over email.

Why should we encourage that?  As far as I'm concerned, we shouldn't.  

That said, there may well be advantages to switching to drupal_render() for email messages.  I am in general a big fan of structured data remaining structured for as long as possible.  The benefit, however, would not be for HTML mail but for, say, easier email attachments.  That such a move would make it easier to send HTML email as well, well, that's a side effect I suppose we can live with.


--Larry Garfield

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