[linux-elitists] Seperating Content from Presentation

Jeff Kinz jkinz@kinz.org
Wed Jun 9 08:31:26 PDT 2004

I won't bother going thru all this stuff that's been hashed thru before..
On Wed, Jun 09, 2004 at 03:16:13PM +1000, Mike MacCana wrote:
> Data with unnecessary line wraps is dumb.
> * Keep data from presentation
> * Don't assume users use particular client software 
> * Don't overwrite users preferences

Text wrapping is a separate issue from using html in email.

It can occur on both send/receive sides independent of html use.
(Dependent on your software, of course).

Consider the problem of email arriving to a small display device such
as a PDA or cell phone. No matter how you wrapped, or did not wrap your
text, there is a presentation problem. (yes hardware improvements will
eventually solve this.)

Now consider email arriving at a location which has almost no money, or
hardware resources and is forced to make do with recycled, obsolete
equipment which they will have to use until it crumbles to dust.

Current Examples are:

	+ Most of the world population outside the industrialized centers
	+ The IRS in America  (OK, most of USA is happy about that :) 
	+ Most elementary schools in the world, and many in USA.
	+ Thousands of American companies, hospitals, state agencies
	  where ALL the email is accessed via "green screens" IE mainframe
	  terminals and emulators of same.  Same w/ROW

Congratulations.  Your HTML email is completely unreadable.

In many cases only the first line of your unwrapped email is readable.

> Consider: More currently maintained mail client have a chance of
> displaying your message properly if its in HTML than if its terminal
> limited.

This is a very self-centric world view.  Most of the people in the world
haven't access to the resources we have.  In addition there are the
problems of inherent in HTML itself

	+ Bandwidth hog, increase email size between 3 to 40 X 
	  (excluding envelope and headers)
	  (Figures from my analysis of Red Hat install list traffic
	  in 2003 )  If you want to send me html, please pay for my
	  organization's higher bandwidth need.  Yes, it is only
	  fractional.  It is still a piggish waste of both time and money
	  (Why do some people always think its OK to spend other peoples
	  money? Ultimately the extra cost returns to them as well)

	+ Storage hog, same as above, but disc space costs more and is
	  much harder to manage. (see recent /. stories on gov't agency
	  making a deliberate decision to break the law by discarding emails
	  they are required to keep because they have no space and no money)
	  If you want to send me html, please pay for my organization's
	  higher storage need.	This time it is not a fractional increase. 
	  It is a substantial cost increase. 

	+ Gives away SIG-INT  "web bugs"  validates email addresses,
   	  identifies platforms, systems and software in use inside an
	  organization making it easier to attack that organization, or spam

	+ Transmits Executable content, with clever enough javascript
	  and an understanding of the flaws in various  Javascript VM's
	  html email can be used to propagate any malware or take over
	  any system.

	  Who knows what malware will arrive when the email re-directs 
	  you to a specific website.  (Wanna get somebody fired?  Send
	  them an anon html email that redirects them to a child
	  pornography web site or some similarly reviled thing.)

HTML is a presentation language. It is not an email language. Web
Browsers are not email programs. (yes "some" do have email clients in
them, Notice that the clients read text only emails as well...)

> > Remember, make the data smart, so the software can be simple.
HTML is not data - it is programmatic, especially when transmitting
executable content, be it URL's, Pics or javascript.

> And we all know how people that think they're clever like to pick on folk sending HTML.

Actually its more like we are trying to convince them to stop spitting
on everyone or cover their nose when they sneeze. Think of it as more
like the health codes that outlawed spitting on the sidewalk when people
began to understand that it was a vector for infectious disease. (Please
don't bother with arguments about how it's a weak vector.)

Jeff Kinz,  Emergent Research,  Hudson, MA.  
"jkinz@kinz.org" is copyright 2004.  
Use is restricted. Any use is an acceptance of the offer at
www.kinz.org/policy.html (if you could get there .. )

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