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HTML e-mail - a practical work-around
From Charles Burke at Daily Dawnings - Where Subscribers Win Free Music CDs on 7 Sept '00
Noticed how much prettier spam is these days?

In the last few months, I've been receiving lots of it, nicely formatted, lovely colors, but spam nonetheless.

One day I realized the spammers must know something the rest of us don't, if they're jumping on the HTML bandwagon in such numbers.

So I started experimenting with my own e-zine.

First thing I learned was that my HTML code was not early as neat and clean as I thought it was. I got some awful-looking results the first few tries.

Second thing I learned, when I tried several wysiwyg editors, is that they are sloppy, may insert non-standard tags all over the place, will break many of the standard syntax rules, and in some cases will change your carefully written code to something else (changing image addresses, changing [br]s to [p]s, which alters element spacing on the page, and other odd habits).

Finally, after about 15 iterations, I managed to get an e-zine together that looked nice and was readable by nearly all e-mail software, with only a few exceptions.

Those exceptions, however, were deal-breakers.

All my AOL friends . . . anybody with older software . . . Hmmm.

So I logged on to a forum or two and asked around - was anybody else doing HTML e-mail? Didn't get much response, so I decided to solve the problem my own way - when technology fails, use common sense.

Very simple, actually, I just hide an entire text version of the e-zine inside an invisible comment at the head of the HTML e-mail. Makes a heck of a big comment (around 4-5Kb most days), but it seems to work.

Anybody who can't read HTML sees the plain-text version and reads it. Except for one or two tags, most of the HTML comes after the part they CAN read.

Now, while this is not exactly a solution, it's a fair work-around till technology catches up.

If you'd like to see what I mean, you can log into my site at <a href="http://www.dawnings.com">http://www.dawnings.com</a> and take a quick glance at the source.

I post a copy of the day's email on the site, and then an SSI call inserts the daily issue into the index page automatically - complete with the invisible 5Kb comment. [g]

I made the big switch on August 1, and since going to all HTML, not a single subscriber has complained that they can't read my e-mail.

If you've been toying with the idea of switching over, maybe this idea is something you can use - at least until technology catches up with common sense.

Best regards,
Charles Burke, Japan
Daily Dawnings






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