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Secondly AFTER the above has been done AND adopted they need to develop a new standard to replace HTML as the display format for e-mail (XML based). This should include things like signatures, quoting, in-line pictures, tables, and a small subset of text styling. Essentially take HTML, remove 50%+ of the functionality and then ship it as a standard people can cheaply implement.

Why? People who like HTML emails are happy with it; people who prefer plain-text emails (like me) won't like your solution either, since it's XML.

I think we already have a decent format for lightly formatted email, and it's the plain-text conventions (in which Markdown was based). Or Markdown itself, if you want something closer to a standard.




Because the HTML supported by e-mail is too massive. It makes writing an e-mail client too expensive and also means that security issues are more likely to creep in.

Plain text should stay as is. HTML is the problematic format that needs addressing. When they first started using HTML for e-mails it was just the natural thing to do, but with the benefit of hindsight it was a mistake.

So I am suggesting we take a subset of HTML, add a very small set of e-mail specific features (signatures, quoting, etc) and then deploy. This format should be entirely display-able with a single XSL (as the easiest implementation).


> It makes writing an e-mail client too expensive and also means that security issues are more likely to creep in.

I disagree: Libraries to render HTML already exist and will continue to be developed, since they are used in web browsers anyway. The development effort would be greater if we introduce another (new) format specifically for email. Every E-Mail Client that wants to do so already implements HTML display.

Most of the security issues are mitigated by not running Javascript and disabling loading of remote resources, by default. Then it's as safe as a web browser with NoScript.

The problem with HTML mail in my opinion is simply that it is overused. Often it is unnecessary bloat, and plain text works just fine.




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