Don't blame OpenEMM for mailing CSS issues in mail views

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Don't blame OpenEMM for mailing CSS issues in mail views

Post by hzujmccescsl » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:11 pm

In our experience of dealing with mailings with extensive CSS styling in them, there are problems of various degrees with mail servers and/or mail clients/interfaces that can have a demonstrative affects on the appearance of any given mailing. In particular, it appears that Exchange and/or Outlook Web Application (OWA) either in response to some non-MS clients and/or non-MS client OS - tend to throw out everything in the mailing HEAD section, convert HTML "<strong>" tags to HTML "<b>" tags, remove paragraph tags (at least with inline CSS styles in them), modify fonts and use old HTML "<font>" tag, and insert their own CSS styles. This has caused disastrous effects on highly designed CSS layouts where most to all of the necessary CSS styling were wantonly removed. Also, HTML "name" and "id" attributes are removed from HTML entities!

It appears that this situation is more prevalent for web browser interface access to Exchange versus mail client access. So the "webmail" environment is not as CSS styling friendly as one might think.

It is usually easy enough through one "client", or another, to view the original mailing source "en toto" and using Firefox Firebug developer addon, see the "computed source" that gets presented to the client agent - thereby noting what has been altered within the Exchange/OWA environment. It is almost as if Exchange/OWA is stuck in HTML3-land.

An Internet posting by an MS "developer" (if I remember correctly, dated in 2011) noted that there were these issues above, in a support ticket related to OWA, and listed several of them out. However, they never offered any viable solution nor any indication if they or MS would be working on these issues (no surprise).

So whilst all testing and development may appear to be just fine, it would be best to be careful about getting carried away with highly CSS styled mailings unless they can be proven to succeed in certain environments.

On another, but related note, it has been seen that Exchange/OWA has problems dealing with some of the text-only versions of the MIME partitioned mailing. Parts of the section would be "lost" and other parts would be modified in the viewing. Local Exchange people like to point to "your mail client" as the "problem", but again - with Thunderbird it is easy to view the original mailing source which when viewing the text-only portion - may not show the same content.

SO - beware the Exchange/OWA environment that may alter certain parts of a mailing in ways that you will not have any control over.