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I'm still a little unclear about how much I can do with HTML Email...

MitchellVII
MitchellVII asked
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Last Modified: 2010-04-08
Hi,

I want to send a questionnaire out to users with a simple email format that they reply to.  Can I send an HTML complete with Textboxes that they can fill in and send back?  Or am I just limited to text?

If I decided to go with a Word Email instead, I could just create a table in word, send the word file directly in the body of the email and they could open it and respond?  Would Form Fields work in that?

Considering this is Outlook 2003, it seems like the list of things it CAN'T do is longer than the list of things it CAN do.  You would think having a simple form people could fill out and return in the body of an email would be pretty standard stuff, and yet, it seems impossible.

Most of my users may not have Outlook themselves so I cant use an Outlook form.

M
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Top Expert 2010
Commented:
Hi MitchellVII,

You can send an HTML email complete with textboxes and other form objects.  When the recipient opens the message they'll see the form controls and can fill them in.  The problem is what do they do after that?  To be able to click a button in the body of the message and have it create and send a reply would require scripting, and Outlook does not allow any scripting in messages.  If instead the recipient clicks the Reply button, then the form controls are all disabled and treated as if you were editing a web page (meaning they cannot be filled in).  There's also the problem of what email client the recipients will have.  Some of them may have clients that don't reqad HTML.  Others may have clients that read HTML but won't handle a form in an email.  Still others may have their email client configured to convert HTML messages into plain text, a popular strategy for avoiding viruses and malware.  The best possible solution is to send a link to an HTML form on a web site.  

If you decide to go with Word instead, then you'll have the same problems if all the recipients don't have Word.  Unless you're just talking about using Word as "your" editor so you can create a nice looking table.  That would work okay.

The real problem is that there's no knowing what clients the recipients will have, what their capabilities are, or how they'll have them configured.  

Cheers!

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Author

Commented:
yeah,

I'm in the middle of creatinga  simple web page to do all this.  Trying to get textboxes and combo boxes and all are a real pain as far as formatting.  It's just hard to create a form that doesnt look "junky".  The main problem is with the combo boxes - you just can't format them at all as far as border size,etc, unless you use a fancy add-in which i dont know how to do :(

Ah well.

I should probably just order frontpage and be done with it :)

M
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Top Expert 2010

Commented:
> hard to create a form that doesnt look "junky".  
I agree.

> you just can't format them at all as far as border size,etc, unless you use a fancy add-in which i dont know how to do
Actually you can do a nice looking combo box using CSS, no add-ins required.  I'll post a sample.

Author

Commented:
>Actually you can do a nice looking combo box using CSS, no add-ins required.  I'll post a sample.

Do you have that handy?  Would love to see it :)

M
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Top Expert 2010

Commented:
MitchellVII,

I'm looking for it.
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Top Expert 2010

Commented:
Sorry, we are talking about a select while I was thinking of a button.  My mistake.  The Select tag can't be customized the way I was thinking.

Author

Commented:
Actually,  I downloaded a trial copy of Dreamweaver and wehn you design stuff in that it automatically gives you a better looking combo box.

I don't know how this registers with your website as it doesn't seem to add an extra code, but it does seem to work.

M
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Top Expert 2010

Commented:
I use Dreamweaver myself.  You can tailor a combobox (Select tag) some, but not to the same degree that you can other form controls.  To produce a really nice looking alternative to the standard combobox requires using Javascript to emulate it.  
FWIW, you could send this very same form via email and set the action to the same address your online version is pointing to.  Then, they could simply fill out the form in their browser window and click send causing a browser window to open and the data going to your existing receiving script.
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