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Testing of plain text portion of multi-part MIME email

Posted on 2007-03-17
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We are developing a new set of multipart email messages. Previously we sent all our email in plain text. We have converted it all to HTML, and are sending both the plain text version and HTML version is a mult-part MIME format.

As we are using Outlook 2003 as a typical client, we are having no trouble at all testing the appearance of the HTML email. However, we would also like to be able to test that the appearance of the email in a non-HTML capable email reader is as designed.

We need to be able to install a client somewhere that would be "typical". For example, just using the unix mail client is not so typcial, as it would just dump out everything, and not give an indication of a non-HTML cleint. So we either need a way to "turn off" HTML in some common client, or try something else.

I tried to install PC-Pine, but could not get it to connect to our POP server, as we require an authenticated connection. However, if I could get this to work, it might be a good "typcial" plain text mail reader.
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Question by:jasimon9
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TekSavage earned 250 total points
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From what I've read, PC-Pine is for IMAP servers. You may want to try Mozilla Thunderbird and just turn off HTML by selecting View/Message Body As/Plain text. Thunderbird can be set up to use POP or IMAP and allows secure connections.
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by:jasimon9
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You may be correct, as all the documentation I looked at the came with PC-Pine only mentioned IMAP. So Thunderbird may be a good approach. I will try that.
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by:Frankco
Frankco earned 250 total points
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Hi jasimon9,

Change the email preference on one of the Outlook computers to "Read email in plain text".
Tools ~ Options ~ Email preferences -> check Read email in plain text.

You can also change this setting in Outlook Express.
Tools ~ Options ~ Read

cheers,
frankco

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by:jasimon9
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Actually, that may be a useful option in Outlook. The problem with using any client is that you get "that client's interpretation" -- and Microsoft email clients to me tend to want to "hide things" and "do more for the user" which in this case defeats the purpose of seeing what a real plain text reader would see.

Nevertheless, both suggestions are good, and I am splitting points.
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by:jasimon9
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Actually, I have just found the flaw in the solution by Frankco, which makes that approach useless. When using the setting to "view in plain text", Outlook apparently continues to disregard the plain text porition of the multipart MIME. Instead, it renders the HTML portion as plain text. This completely defeats the purpose and does not help.

Oh, well.
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Expert Comment

by:manassehkatz
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I have the same problem - need to test TXT as well as HTML. Thunderbird solved the problem as described above. Unlike Eudora, it stores the full original message including the plain text and html portions of the messages - Eudora (and possibly Outlook - I haven't checked) strips out everything it doesn't need, which in this case is the TXT.

For those wondering why it matters, in my case I am including a whole bunch of product-specific links in the HTML email. For the plain text version I am just spelling out the one main link which the user can copy/paste or (depending on just how simple their email client software is) write it down to type in at a browser. If I included the full product list in the plain-text message (where links would not work) it would look look ridiculous and make the message very long, which is also likely to be a problem as the simple devices that use the plain text format very likely don't have big screens either.
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