Genii Weblog

Imagine a really fuzzy fax system

Thu 26 Feb 2009, 08:36 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Imagine that this fax system came with the greatest organization scheme, easy to file and sort and search, compatibility with all sorts of phone and voice systems - but the faxes were so fuzzy that important information was lost, the formatting and fonts and layout were altered in weird ways, and the general impression given to the fax recipients was that your fax machine was a piece of crap.  Would you put up with it?  Would you celebrate enhancements to the organizational system that ignored the fax quality itself?  I doubt it.

Yet much the way IBM has improved the email container so dramatically in Notes 8/8.5 without improving the email content, Gmail also seems completely focused on the email container, as shown in this post on their blog.  As Alan Lepofsky mentioned, and I repeated in this post, Gmail lacks the simple ability to create a table or paste in an image, features available in Lotus Notes (not known as the best email in the world, I hasten to add) since the early to mid 1990's.  As I have also noted elsewhere, Gmail completely ignores some CSS that is handled well by virtually every other email system (including both minor points such as images for bullet points as well as major points such as positional elements).  

But don't mind the content, the container is getting better all the time.  Fuzzy faxes anyone?

Copyright 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

796.1. Rob Barton
(03/01/2009 01:14 PM)

I prefer to see minimal or no formatting in emails myself. Part of the security problems we have in email is due to allowing HTML, JavaScript, and other code to be embedded in email. Your comparing Google's difficult to format emails to fuzzy faxes is a great comparison. Both are terrible technologies. Both are being used less, because people don't like them. Who cares if I can't create a table in Gmail? Why would you want to even do that in the first place? There's likely another tool better suited to the job.

796.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(03/01/2009 04:16 PM)


Of course, different people have different views on this, and I appreciate your sharing yours. I don't see how the security problems you mention with regards to email have to do with message fidelity. Obviously, you don't want to allow JavaScript, or any active content of that sort, but to allow badly rendered tables and indirect images is in no way better than allowing well rendered images and indirect images. Sure, we would have less trouble with telemarketers if we had phone connections too fuzzy to hear, but is that really a good argument for fuzzy faxes or badly rendered email?

One last thing. You say that there is likely a better tool than Gmail for creating a table. Such as MS Word? No security problems with Word attachments? No security problems with encouraging users to open up attachments? Forcing people to use external tools to create tables and clean content is also forcing them to use attachments which are far more likely to cause trouble than inline emails, as far as I can tell.