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Email Standards Project

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Is it time for a Gmail intervention?

Posted by Mathew Patterson on December 11, 2007 in Email Client News

When Gmail first launched, and people were selling invitations for it on Ebay, it was easy to see why. A vastly faster and more efficient interface coupled with huge storage made for a really significant step in email via the web.

Web designers and tech heads loved it, and in fact all of our Email Standards Project email is accessed via Gmail. However, in one area Gmail has always lagged behind a little — rendering of CSS in HTML email. Whereas almost every other email client will render (with varying degrees of success) CSS from the head of an HTML document, Gmail strips it out completely.

It’s a confusing situation, because it’s not like you can’t use CSS at all in Gmail, you just have to code it inline. When you do, support is reasonably good, at least for the basics. Without going through the hassle of inline styles, you end up with what you see in our Gmail report, an unstyled page. Sure it degrades well, but it seems an odd distinction to make.

It’s not just us here at ESP that think so. Since the Email Standards Project launched, the Gmail report has been (after the homepage) by far the most popular page on the site. A lot of people are confused about how to get their emails showing up properly in Gmail.

The Gmail test result page is by far the most popular

We know that somewhere out there, somebody who has visited this site knows the right person from the Gmail team who can help us to understand why Gmail works the way it does. We have no doubt that it was done for a reason, probably a great, sensible, defensible reason.

All we want to do is start that conversation, to see if there is a way we can help the Gmail team improve the support for web standards without compromising their other requirements. So if you know somebody who could help, or somebody who might know that person - get in touch! We’ll either end up contacting the right person, or Kevin Bacon, so it’s win-win!

Even if you don’t know anyone, you can help the cause by commenting on this Google group asking Google to consider adding better support for CSS and HTML standards, because every voice counts.

Of course, if you are someone from the Gmail team, then we’d love to hear from you directly, because we really are here to be as helpful as possible. Gmail is great, but a Gmail that supported web standards would be even better.

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