Why is the rendering engine in Outlook so bad?

M
#1
I'm a web developer currently building an HTML email for a client.

I just wanted to say that Outlook has ruined my day again. So now, once

again I'm trying to figure out how I justify to a client the hours I have

spent trying to get simple, standards-compliant code to display correctly in

Outlook.

I have a feature request: a Microsoft hosted page containing an official

apology about the rendering engine in Outlook that I can direct my clients

to, to save me spending yet more of my time explaining why Outlook is so

annoying and expensive to develop for.

Thank You
 
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
#2
I'm a web developer currently building an HTML email for a client.




I just wanted to say that Outlook has ruined my day again. So now, once


again I'm trying to figure out how I justify to a client the hours I have


spent trying to get simple, standards-compliant code to display correctly in


Outlook.




I have a feature request: a Microsoft hosted page containing an official


apology about the rendering engine in Outlook that I can direct my clients


to, to save me spending yet more of my time explaining why Outlook is so


annoying and expensive to develop for.




Thank You





Every bulk email i get looks fine, so it can't be all that hard to do. Email is not simply "web pages viewed in a browser" and should never be treated as if they are. Don't over program/over design the message and it will look fine. Simple *is* better in email.



See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338201.aspx for information on CSS support and other information.
 
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
#3
Oops... i meant to say Email is not simply "web pages viewed in an email client"




Every bulk email i get looks fine, so it can't be all that hard to do. Email is not simply "web pages viewed in a browser" and should never be treated as if they are. Don't over program/over design the message and it will look fine. Simple *is* better in email.



See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338201.aspx for information on CSS support and other information.
 
R

Roady [MVP]

#4
Other mail clients are not much better and web based mail clients are even

worse. An e-mail it not "the web" and should not be treated as such either.

What you can and cannot use in Word/Outlook 2007 is documented and published

by Microsoft at the following 2 locations;

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338201.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338200.aspx

As said, the feature set of most other mail clients are even smaller so

there are more limiting factors than just the rendering engine of

Word/Outlook 2007.

---
"Matt" <Matt> wrote in message

news:CE5E5742-FAB1-42F9-9D7A-6CB61434B168@microsoft.com...
> I'm a web developer currently building an HTML email for a client.

> I just wanted to say that Outlook has ruined my day again. So now, once
> again I'm trying to figure out how I justify to a client the hours I have
> spent trying to get simple, standards-compliant code to display correctly
> in
> Outlook.

> I have a feature request: a Microsoft hosted page containing an official
> apology about the rendering engine in Outlook that I can direct my
> clients
> to, to save me spending yet more of my time explaining why Outlook is so
> annoying and expensive to develop for.

> Thank You
 
V

VanguardLH

#5
Matt wrote:


> I'm a web developer currently building an HTML email for a client.

> I just wanted to say that Outlook has ruined my day again. So now, once
> again I'm trying to figure out how I justify to a client the hours I have
> spent trying to get simple, standards-compliant code to display correctly in
> Outlook.


Outlook is an e-mail client, not a web browser. Don't expect ANY e-mail

client to render your HTML e-mails exactly as you see them. With HTML, you

can *never* guarantee the recipient will see the content exactly the same as

you see it. Besides, most of what you can do in HTML will get blocked by

the vast majority of e-mail clients, anyway, like any scripting, animation,

etc. Gee, you claim to be a "developer" and you don't know this?

If you want your users to open your message in a web browser then either put

the page online somewhere and give a link to to the recipient so they end up

opening their web browser to see that page, or attach your web page as an

> .html attachment so it opens in their web browser. If you want the

rendering support of a web browser then USE A WEB BROWSER to view the

content!

A screwdriver can be used as a hammer but it wasn't designed for that

purpose. Don't expect a screwdriver to work well as a hammer.


> I have a feature request: a Microsoft hosted page containing an official
> apology about the rendering engine in Outlook that I can direct my clients
> to, to save me spending yet more of my time explaining why Outlook is so
> annoying and expensive to develop for.


Create your own web page for YOUR apology to your ignorant users. Of

course, the time it takes you to tell them the URL to your apology page

would take just as much time as stating "E-mail clients are NOT web

browsers."
 
M
#6
Roady,

Thanks for the response. I honestly didn't think the antiquated word HTML

rendering engine could be defended! It is a genuine shame the fact that

"Other mail clients are not much better" is used to justify Outlook's

shortcomings.

So what if they are not much better*? Why not make the most popular email

client the best?

*(with a few exceptions - apple mail and thunderbird are particularly good).

I'd rather not spend too much time documenting the shortcomings of Outlook's

rendering engine as they are hugely documented across the internet,

highlights include:

http://www.email-standards.org/clients/

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/ (showing how outlook CSS support has

got *worse* since 2003?!)

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/2393/microsoft-takes-email-design-b/

Diane,

Thanks for the reply. However please don't patronise me. I don't send 'bulk

emails' and I do my very best not to 'over-design' anything. My clients ask

me to me to produce newsletters for their subscribers that are visually

compelling and engaging or at the very least have professional standard of

simple typography, spacing and alignment (all of which Outlook make hard to

achieve). I have been designing and developing using HTML (and CSS) for

eleven years and generally speaking you're right - it is not "all that hard

to do". It only becomes hard when working around the quirks and bugs present

in Microsoft products, in particular (and somewhat famously) Internet

Explorer 6/7 and when writing HTML emails: Outlook 2007 (and now 2010).

While I agree of course that "email is not simply web pages viewed in a

browser" the reality is that like it or not, HTML email is here to stay. My

thoughts are somewhat close to those documented here: (please take the time

to read if you haven't already - there really are some legitimate points)

http://www.email-standards.org/why/

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/2468/why-we-need-web-standards-supp-1/

I also agree that "simple is better" - this is true of almost everything.

But can you remind me again what is that is wrong with giving developers the

tools and the ability to innovate and push new ideas and methods?

To be honest, as usual it looks like I may as well get used to it. The fact

that Outlook 2010 uses the same antiquated rendering engine (originally

designed for a word processor?) means I will be unfortunately using these

ancient methods of building emails for some time to come..
 
M
#7
Roady,

Thanks for the response. I honestly didn't think the antiquated word HTML

rendering engine could be defended! It is a genuine shame the fact that

"Other mail clients are not much better" is used to justify Outlook's

shortcomings.

Of the clients with any decent market share, they may not be much better,

but they *are* better. And besides, so what if they are not much better?* Why

not make the most popular email client the best?

*(with a few exceptions - apple mail and thunderbird are particularly good,

Gmail particularly bad).

I'd rather not spend too much time documenting the shortcomings of Outlook's

rendering engine as they are hugely documented across the internet,

highlights include:

http://www.email-standards.org/clients/

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/ (showing how outlook CSS support has

got *worse* since 2003?!)

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/2393/microsoft-takes-email-design-b/

Diane,

Thanks for the reply. However please don't patronise me. I don't send 'bulk

emails' and I do my very best not to 'over-design' anything. My clients ask

me to me to produce newsletters for their subscribers that are visually

compelling and engaging or at the very least have professional standard of

simple typography, spacing and alignment (all of which Outlook make hard to

achieve). I have been designing and developing using HTML (and CSS) for

eleven years and generally speaking you're right - it is not "all that hard

to do". It only becomes hard when working around the quirks and bugs present

in Microsoft products, in particular (and somewhat famously) Internet

Explorer 6/7 and when writing HTML emails: Outlook 2007 (and now 2010).

While I agree of course that "email is not simply web pages viewed in a

browser" the reality is that like it or not, HTML email is here to stay. My

thoughts are somewhat close to those documented here: (please take the time

to read if you haven't already - there really are some legitimate points)

http://www.email-standards.org/why/

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/2468/why-we-need-web-standards-supp-1/

I also agree that "simple is better" - this is true of almost everything.

But can you remind me again what is that is wrong with giving developers the

tools and the ability to innovate and push new ideas and methods?

To be honest, as usual it looks like I may as well get used to it. The fact

that Outlook 2010 uses the same antiquated rendering engine (originally

designed for a word processor?) means I will be unfortunately using these

ancient methods of building emails for some time to come..
 
M
#8
Hi VanguardLH,

Of course I know that scripting, animation etc are not viable in email?

Where did I suggest otherwise? And like I said before I spend every working

day of my life building and testing websites and email in a different

browsers and email clients (and have done for 11 years) so again, I *know*

the recipient will never see content the same way! The truth is, most other

email clients (and browsers) do a much better and more consistent (and bug

free) job of rendering. This is fact! Seriously, do some research.

When the internet itself was 'born' in 1973

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet) it was not designed originally to

show video, play music, have online shops, provide the ability to book

flights and tickets, etc etc etc.. but it now does. So your analogy of a

hammer and a screwdriver makes no sense? Like it or not HTML email is not

going anywhere. Other email clients (eg apple mail, thunderbird, even many

mobile email clients) have shown that is perfectly possible to code a message

once and have it display perfectly well in both browsers and email clients.

Why make developers have to do more work? My question is why use the (very

old) word rendering engine when the passable explorer 8 engine exists.

Outlook 2003 used to use explorer, why have we gone backwards?

Did you take the time to read any of the links I posted above?

Please don't jump to assumptions before replying.
 
V

VanguardLH

#9
Matt wrote:


> Hi VanguardLH,
> Of course I know that scripting, animation etc are not viable in email?
> Where did I suggest otherwise? And like I said before I spend every working
> day of my life building and testing websites and email in a different
> browsers and email clients (and have done for 11 years) so again, I *know*
> the recipient will never see content the same way! The truth is, most other
> email clients (and browsers) do a much better and more consistent (and bug
> free) job of rendering. This is fact! Seriously, do some research.

> When the internet itself was 'born' in 1973
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet) it was not designed originally to
> show video, play music, have online shops, provide the ability to book
> flights and tickets, etc etc etc.. but it now does. So your analogy of a
> hammer and a screwdriver makes no sense? Like it or not HTML email is not
> going anywhere. Other email clients (eg apple mail, thunderbird, even many
> mobile email clients) have shown that is perfectly possible to code a message
> once and have it display perfectly well in both browsers and email clients.
> Why make developers have to do more work? My question is why use the (very
> old) word rendering engine when the passable explorer 8 engine exists.
> Outlook 2003 used to use explorer, why have we gone backwards?

> Did you take the time to read any of the links I posted above?
> Please don't jump to assumptions before replying.


So what you want or expect is for the lines of distinction to blur between

e-mail and web pages so they merge into the same form for communication.

Might happen but nowadays e-mail users are NOT expecting and really don't

want their e-mails to be populated with the crap they see in web pages.

Word has never been considered a decent HTML editor. For one thing, it

bloats the HTML-formatted e-mail with directives that are specific only to

the Word program. That is, it inserts directives in the HTML code that

helps recipients that also use Word to display the e-mail to get the same

display as the sender who saw it and composed it in Word. Using Word for an

HTML editor is only because Word is likely to be available (since there are

few standalone installs of just Outlook) and it will do some HTML coding;

however, those that want to develop solid HTML-formatted e-mails will use a

real HTML editor to produce good code and then use that editor's Send By

E-mail feature to insert that code into their e-mail body.

I do agree that Word is not a good HTML editor program. It never was and

still isn't. Microsoft puts junk into an HTML-formatted e-mail that isn't

HTML code but directives just for Word but is only usable by recipients that

also have Word and configure it to view their HTML-formatted e-mails.

Outlook is just spewing out what Word gave it, and Microsoft is not yet

designing Word to be a full HTML-compliant editor or to produce pure HTML

code for e-mails.

I'd suggest looking around at what HTML editors you like to use, consider

what HTML functions don't work in e-mails, and compose your message in that

3rd party editor and then send that code.
 
M
#10
In many ways I agree - *I* don't want crap in my emails and I try not to work

for clients who do. Though for example a newsletter that I have signed up for

is welcome in my inbox. Even more so if it is well designed with professional

use of typography and layout.

I think you may be bit mixed up about what it is I am saying regards word. I

hand code every site and email I build using dedicated code editors - the

thought of using word to do HTML editing would cause me to find another line

of work. My point is that since 2007, Outlook has used the same HTML

rendering engine built into word *not* the rendering engine built into

internet explorer. Outlook 2003 used to use internet explorer for its engine

but for some unfathomable reason outlook 2007 (and now 2010) use word's

crippled HTML rendering engine, hence HTML emails that have extremely limited

potential for design innovation that are unable to properly display clean,

semantic, modern HTML and CSS standards.

It used to be Internet Explorer 6 that caused web designers and developers

to want to find new jobs but thankfully that browser is finally dying a (very

slow) death. Unfortunately just as Microsoft appeared to be realising that

good support for open standards are the way forward (Explorer 9 is looking

very good in beta), Outlook 2010 pushes email back another 5 years.

Anyway, I'm going to stop now. This little rant has is nothing new, I'm just

one of thousands of developers experiencing the same thing:

http://fixoutlook.org/
 
#11
"Matt" <Matt> wrote in message

news:AE1DF7F4-CB41-4207-8201-312D6E27B50E@microsoft.com...


> Why make developers have to do more work? My question is why use the (very
> old) word rendering engine when the passable explorer 8 engine exists.
> Outlook 2003 used to use explorer, why have we gone backwards?


Because the European Union made Microsoft unbundle IE, so mail clients that

used to rely on the IE rendering engine being available can no longer do that.

--
 

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