(as)  [sysadmin] [blog]

User Tools

Site Tools



This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

Next revision
Previous revision
html-mail-vs-plain-text [2017-10-13 00:13]
andreas created
html-mail-vs-plain-text [2018-06-28 21:25] (current)
andreas + Hanno Böck: [Efail: HTML Mails have no Security Concept and are to blame]
Line 1: Line 1:
 +Notes on Plain Text vs. HTML Mail
 +## Contra HTML mail
 +* Ecologically expensive due to increased size of messages
 +* High complexity
 +  * Harder to develop, hence more expensive
 +  * Handling more likely to break (e.g.
 +    [Kaputte Zitate im Plain-Text von Gmail])
 +  * Less transparent;​ errors are harder to debug (for users _and_ developers)
 +  * Higher hurdle for first time users (e.g. for composing newsletters)
 +* Security hazards (cf. security bug fixes of main mail programs such
 +  as [Security Advisories for Thunderbird];​ cf. [Efail: HTML Mails have no Security Concept and are to blame])
 +* Privacy hazards (e.g. HTML is used to track users)
 +* Some automated systems (e.g. mailing lists) do not accept HTML and will
 +  reject messages, or use only the alternative plain text part, or convert
 +  the HTML potentially causing formatting issues.
 +* Requires HTML aware software
 +* Double effort (HTML _and_ text need to be formatted and checked)
 +* Little guarantee that HTML will be shown as intended
 +* More distractions (e.g. font selectors, emoji buttons)
 +* Harder to write (formatting takes more time)
 +* "​[Angry fruit salad]":​ Every user chooses a different font in a different
 +  color and different size.
 +## Pro HTML mail
 +* Ability to format and style the message content
 +* Ability to create "​rich"​ content (graphs, tables, ...)
 +* Ability to use semantic markup (e.g. to mark text as preformatted)
 +## Contra plain text mail
 +* Text wrapping issues if lines are hard-wrapped (not format=flowed)
 +  (e.g. on mobile devices with small screens)
 +* Text formatted for fixed width fonts might get distorted
 +* Some content is better sent as attachment (e.g. illustrations)
 +## Pro plain text mail
 +* Easy, small, ecologically friendly (compared to HTML mail)
 +* Text is shown by all devices and programs
 +* Accessibility as good as it gets
 +## Criteria to consider
 +* False positive spam: It is unclear whether HTML mails are more likely to be falsely categorized as spam.
 +* Accessibility:​ It is unclear whether HTML mails that include alternative plain text parts are less accessible, for instance for text to speech conversion.
 +## References
 +* Wikipedia:
 +  [HTML email](https://​en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​HTML_email "​Accessed 2017-10-11"​)
 +* Hanno Böck: [Efail: HTML Mails have no Security Concept and are to blame]
 +* Jason Rodriguez: [HTML Email and Accessibility | CSS-Tricks](https://​css-tricks.com/​html-email-accessibility/​ "​Accessed 2017-11-22"​) Recommended,​ extensive article published 2017-11-22.
 +* LUGA.at thread "Plain Text vs. HTML-Mails"​
 +  [October](http://​www.luga.at/​mailing-lists/​luga/​2017/​10/​threads.html#​00041 "​Accessed 2017-11-05"​) +
 +  [November](http://​www.luga.at/​mailing-lists/​luga/​2017/​11/​threads.html#​00003 "​Accessed 2017-11-05"​) 2017.
 +* Niti Shah (HubSpot Marketing):
 +  [Plain Text vs. HTML Emails: Which Is Better? [New Data]](https://​blog.hubspot.com/​marketing/​plain-text-vs-html-emails-data "​Accessed 2017-10-29"​)
 +  Originally published 2015-07-27, updated 2017-10-29.
 +* Jonathan Corbet (LWN.net):
 +  [The trouble with text-only email](https://​lwn.net/​Articles/​735973/​ "​Accessed 2017-11-04"​)
 +  Published 2017-10-12. With many interesting [comments](https://​lwn.net/​Articles/​735973/#​Comments)
 +* Bratus S, Shubina A:
 +  [The only safe email is text-only email](https://​theconversation.com/​the-only-safe-email-is-text-only-email-81434 "​Accessed 2017-10-29"​).
 +  The Conversation,​ 2017-09-11. Also available from 
 +  [Scientific American](https://​www.scientificamerican.com/​article/​the-only-safe-e-mail-is-text-only-e-mail/​ "​Accessed 2017-10-29"​).
 +* mkln.org:
 +  [Wie man E-Mails schreibt](https://​mkln.org/​2007/​02/​wie-man-emails-schreibt/​ "​Accessed 2017-11-04"​)
 +  Published 2017-02-24.
 +* Greg Kogan:
 +  [Don't Design Your Emails](https://​www.gkogan.co/​blog/​dont-design-emails/​ "​Accessed 2017-11-04"​)
 +  Published 2016-06-28.
 +* AWeber Email Marketing:
 +  [Plain Text vs HTML Email: What Reaches the Inbox in 2014?​](https://​blog.aweber.com/​email-marketing/​plain-text-vs-html-email-2014.htm "​Accessed 2017-10-11"​)
 +  Published 2014-04-22.
 +* For historical reference:
 +  * [Discussion about HTML in e-mail](https://​people.dsv.su.se/​~jpalme/​ietf/​mhtml-discussion.html "​Accessed 2017-10-11"​)
 +    Last revision 1998-05-22.
 +  * [The Ascii Ribbon Campaign official homepage](http://​www.asciiribbon.org/​ "​Accessed 2018-06-28"​)
 +    from around 2000 or even earlier
 +[Kaputte Zitate im Plain-Text von Gmail]: http://​www.luga.at/​mailing-lists/​luga/​2017/​10/​msg00005.html "​Accessed 2017-10-11"​
 +[Security Advisories for Thunderbird]:​ https://​www.mozilla.org/​en-US/​security/​known-vulnerabilities/​thunderbird/ ​ "​Accessed 2017-10-11"​
 +[Angry fruit salad]: https://​en.wiktionary.org/​wiki/​angry_fruit_salad "​Accessed 2017-11-04"​
 +[Efail: HTML Mails have no Security Concept and are to blame]: https://​blog.hboeck.de/​archives/​894-Efail-HTML-Mails-have-no-Security-Concept-and-are-to-blame.html "​Published 2018-06-27, accessed 2018-06-28"​