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html-mail-vs-plain-text [2018-06-28 21:25]
andreas + Hanno Böck: [Efail: HTML Mails have no Security Concept and are to blame]
html-mail-vs-plain-text [2019-12-09 12:15] (current)
andreas minor clarification
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 +<markdown>
 +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 when writing (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"
 +
 +</markdown>