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RTF vs. HTML

Richard_Johnson
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My understanding has been that RTF and HTML are two distinct formats. Yet my email client, Outlook Express, in its help documentation, talks of these as if they're one and the same. What's the true scoop? Can I be assured that an email client that reads RTF will also read HTML (and vice versa)?
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rid

Commented:
If you open an RTF and an HTML file in Notepad or any other text editor, you'll find there are differences in the format, although both types seem to rely on "plain text" instructions for fonts etc. I wouldn't say they are the same and I wouldn't bet on a program being able to handle both, if it doesn't say so in the documentation.
Regards
/RID

Commented:
RTF = Rich Text Format.  This is a Microsoft propriatery format that is widely used by Microsoft Outlook, Word, and even Wordpad.

HTML = Hyper Text Markup Language.  This is what you see in web pages and stuff.

They are both very different, but unfortunately Microsoft documentation does confuse the subject because they want you to thing of them as the same.

So here is the scope -- most email clients will handle HTML (The stuff put out by Outlook Express/Netscape) w/out a problem because a plain text message part is included.  if a mail client like pine (unix) happens to receive that message, the plain text portion will be shown and the html part will be an attachment that they can open in a web browser.

RTF is basically evil to everything except Microsoft Outlook.  The reason behind this is that Microsoft wraps the binary attachment (eg. Word document) right into the text stream.  Since this is 8bit data it is encoded as a data file named winmail.dat for transport across the internet.  If it hits any mail client other than another Microsoft Outlook user, odds are they won't see what attachments you sent because their mail client doesn't know how to unravel the winmail.dat file.

Author

Commented:
I appreciate the detail offered by Neo_mvps, but I have to say that my concerns are still unresolved.

I am aware that email clients that do not interpret formatted text will usually add a plain-text version after the gobbledygook version. This, however, is not a very good alternative, because the receiver must know enough to scroll down to the end to see the plain-text version.

May I conclude from Neo_mvps's discussion that my email client (Outlook Express, not Outlook) formats in HTML and not RTF? And that Outlook uses RTF? If so, how does Outlook handle a message formatted by Outlook Express in HTML? Does the Outlook user see the formatted message or not? Does the Outlook user have to scroll down to be able to read the message (in plain text)? Or is not even a plain-text version received?

The reverse situation is one in which an Outlook user sends me a formatted message, via my email client, Outlook Express. If Outlook Express uses HTML and not RTF, will I be able to read the email as formatted? Or will I have to scroll down to the end, to see a plain-text version?

Author

Commented:
I appreciate the detail offered by Neo_mvps, but I have to say that my concerns are still unresolved.

I am aware that email clients that do not interpret formatted text will usually add a plain-text version after the gobbledygook version. This, however, is not a very good alternative, because the receiver must know enough to scroll down to the end to see the plain-text version.

May I conclude from Neo_mvps's discussion that my email client (Outlook Express, not Outlook) formats in HTML and not RTF? And that Outlook uses RTF? If so, how does Outlook handle a message formatted by Outlook Express in HTML? Does the Outlook user see the formatted message or not? Does the Outlook user have to scroll down to be able to read the message (in plain text)? Or is not even a plain-text version received?

The reverse situation is one in which an Outlook user sends me a formatted message, via my email client, Outlook Express. If Outlook Express uses HTML and not RTF, will I be able to read the email as formatted? Or will I have to scroll down to the end, to see a plain-text version?
Commented:
Correct ~ Outlook Express formats in HTML and not RTF.  Outlook 98 and later will be able to display the HTML to the user w/out a problem.  Outlook 97 will show the plain text version and the HTML part will be an attachment.

If an Outlook 98 or later user sends you a message in HTML, it will display (formatted) as intended.

Commented:
> Can I be assured that an email client that reads RTF will also read HTML (and vice versa)?

No. I have Outlook. I can only read your text, not rtf or html. Where you are internet. We block.

RTF is formatted text, simple doc.

HTML is hyper text, with hyper links, but it takes visible keystrokes to change fonts. Either is reabable with IE.

Author

Commented:
SunBow's comment seems inconsistent with those of Neo_myps. Perhaps, however, SunBow uses Outlook 97 and is not opening the attachment.

Not having the necessary software, I cannot myself test these responses. I'd be grateful for any clarifying comments.

Commented:
I think what sunbow is trying to say is that the html part when opened will just show the text of the html message.  Any extras like graphics, sound, etc. wouldn't show unless the html tags referenced a public accessable web server.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all your help!

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