HTML Email and Lotus Notes

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Although there’s no doubt that RSS is hot with the cool kids, when it comes to proactive methods of contacting an audience, almost every client we’ve spoken to in previous last 12 months is still asking for same thing — ‘Give us HTML email!’ That’s not really a massive surprise. Even the most ‘non-techy’ managers have usually been successfully using email for years and feel they understand it well. They know their audience understands email too. They’re also often already well-aquainted with traditional direct marketing methods, so taking the concept into an online setting isn’t a big jump for them. This is all good work for us developers, but does force us to deal with some issues we might prefer to duck. Spam filters are more aggressive than ever, and deserve a separate post. The other major issue is, of course, the huge variation in mail clients. While we may wring our hands and whine about having to cater for three IEs, Firefox, Opera AND Safari, the mail client landscape is a literal amazon (the jungle, not the bookstore) of peacefully co-existing biodiversity. And despite what David Suzuki says, diversity is bad, Mkay?! I’ve been made particuarly aware of this fact in the last few days. Recently, in an honest attempt to reduce spiralling bandwidth costs, we re-coded some of the internals of our newletter authoring system (Design View, Tech Times, etc). The original templates were consciously very ‘old school’ — tables enclosing ‘font tag-heavy’ paragraphs — so we decided to try to slim them down with the help of a little more CSS. The main table structure remained but we pulled the majority of the font tags and coloring in favor of head styles, shaving a little under 20% from each issue. The testing we did checked out fine for Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Eudora, Gmail, Hotmail, Pegasus, and a host of other clients, but, judging from some helpful feedback from Mary Ransom, Donna Stegner and Pam Froemke, we’ve created some real issues for Lotus Notes users and users of some other less common clients. Apologies to all three and to any other users who have received less useful newsletter content since the re-coding. Notes has always been a problematic clients for two reasons. Firstly, it takes to the HTML it receives with ‘extreme prejudice’ cutting, slicing and trimming whereever it likes. Secondly, to my knowledge, there’s no easy and inexpensive way to test for this client. However, I would like to share a really useful ‘Template Kit’ article on Notes and HTML email which does answer some of the question I had. Two things in particular we’re handy to know. 1) Notes often converts carriage returns in HTML to entities, meaning:
can be converted to<cr>/grafitti5.png breaking the image. The same thing can happen with links, so try to keep lines long and intact. 2) Notes likes to strip CSS from the header by default. However, according to this article, this can be resisted by placing each rule within standard HTML comments. In other words, this doesn’t work:

<style type="text/css">
#content{padding:11px 6px 11px 12px;}
But this should:
<style type="text/css">
<!--#content{padding:11px 6px 11px 12px;}-->
<!--#col{margin :0;}-->
I’m still testing this stuff out, so I can’t absolutely confirm this technique, but it’s certainly better than the complete blank I drew this morning. Of course, these fixes could unleash a tidal wave of issues in other clients that are worse than the original issue. I’ll let you know the conclusions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HTML Email and Lotus Notes

How can I create an HTML email in Lotus Notes?

Creating an HTML email in Lotus Notes involves a few steps. First, you need to create a new memo. In the body field of the memo, you can write your HTML code. However, Lotus Notes does not support all HTML tags, so you need to be careful with the tags you use. Once you have written your HTML code, you can send the email. The recipient will see the email as an HTML email, not as plain text.

What are the limitations of HTML emails in Lotus Notes?

Lotus Notes has several limitations when it comes to HTML emails. For instance, it does not support all HTML tags. Some tags, such as the

tag, are not supported at all. Other tags, like the tag, are only partially supported. Additionally, Lotus Notes does not support CSS stylesheets, which can make it difficult to style your HTML emails.

How can I use stationery in Lotus Notes?

Stationery in Lotus Notes allows you to create and save a template of an email that you can use repeatedly. To create a stationery, you need to create a new memo and design it as you wish. Then, from the Actions menu, select Tools, and then Stationery, and finally, Save as Stationery. You can then use this stationery whenever you want to send an email with the same design.

Can I use Lotus Notes on my Apple device?

Yes, Lotus Notes is compatible with Apple devices. However, the process of setting it up can be a bit complex. You need to download and install the Lotus Notes client on your device. Then, you need to configure it with your Lotus Notes account details. Once this is done, you can use Lotus Notes on your Apple device.

Are there any plans to improve the HTML email functionality in Lotus Notes?

As of now, there are no official announcements from HCL Technologies, the company that owns Lotus Notes, about improving the HTML email functionality. However, they regularly update the software and may include such improvements in future updates.

How can I troubleshoot issues with HTML emails in Lotus Notes?

Troubleshooting issues with HTML emails in Lotus Notes can be challenging due to its limited support for HTML and CSS. However, you can try a few things. First, check your HTML code for any unsupported tags or attributes. Second, try sending the email to a different email client to see if the issue persists. If it does, the problem might be with your HTML code, not Lotus Notes.

Can I use CSS in my HTML emails in Lotus Notes?

Unfortunately, Lotus Notes does not support CSS stylesheets. This means that you cannot use external or internal stylesheets in your HTML emails. However, you can use inline styles. Inline styles are written directly in the HTML tags and are supported by Lotus Notes.

How can I ensure that my HTML emails look good in Lotus Notes?

Due to the limitations of Lotus Notes, ensuring that your HTML emails look good can be a bit tricky. However, there are a few things you can do. First, use simple HTML tags that are supported by Lotus Notes. Second, use inline styles to style your emails. Finally, test your emails in Lotus Notes before sending them to ensure they look as expected.

Can I send HTML emails to non-Lotus Notes users?

Yes, you can send HTML emails from Lotus Notes to users who use other email clients. However, keep in mind that not all email clients support all HTML tags. Therefore, it’s best to stick to simple HTML tags and inline styles to ensure that your emails look good in all email clients.

How can I learn more about HTML emails in Lotus Notes?

There are several resources available online where you can learn more about HTML emails in Lotus Notes. Websites like SitePoint, TurboFuture, and the official HCL Technologies support page have articles and tutorials on the topic. Additionally, you can also check out forums and discussion boards where users share their experiences and tips.

Alex WalkerAlex Walker
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Alex has been doing cruel and unusual things to CSS since 2001. He is the lead front-end design and dev for SitePoint and one-time SitePoint's Design and UX editor with over 150+ newsletter written. Co-author of The Principles of Beautiful Web Design. Now Alex is involved in the planning, development, production, and marketing of a huge range of printed and online products and references. He has designed over 60+ of SitePoint's book covers.

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