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Rich Text vs. HTML

Posted on 2010-08-30
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
We are curious about alternatives for hyperlinks to work from MS Office 2007 to MS Office 2003 without changing Rich Text to HTML because of space issues.  Please let us know what you can.  Thanks!
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Question by:BlessingIT
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16 Comments
 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:digitap
ID: 33564136
Don't really understand your question.  You don't have much space to store files and believe that converting Rich Text files to HTML files will increase the file size?  And/Or, hyperlinks don't currently function in Rich Text files?
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:dsnegi_25dec
ID: 33564897
as such there is no option you hve to select HTML format while u send the mails .

Or eitheruse third party application like Enterprise Vault
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Author Comment

by:BlessingIT
ID: 33566897
Right now within our enterprise, approximately 4000 users, most people still have MS Office / Outlook 2003 installed, and some have MS Office / Outlook 2007.  When someone emails a hyperlink from 2007 to someone with 2003, the hyperlink does not open unless both users have the HTML format chosen in Outlook rather that Rich Text.  We have been told by consultants that HTML will use up a lot of space on the Exchange server and they do not recommend changing everyone to HTML.  We are looking for alternatives if any exist.  Thank you for your time and help!
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digitap earned 167 total points
ID: 33567600
I have a few issues with your consultants position on this.  If they are so concerned with space, why not choose plain text?  It's going to be the absolute smallest solution.  Rich Text just gives you some nice formatting that you wouldn't get with plain text, but it comes with a large caveat.  Rich Text isn't as portable as plain text or HTML.  If you've gone to the trouble of formatting an email using Rich Text and send the email to someone who's email viewer has trouble porting the Rich Text format, then it the email won't appear correctly.  You would have wasted your time formatting the email.  Plain Text is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) format...no bells, no whistles.  HTML is a standard and easily ported.  However, some companies convert HTML email messages into plain text when received, so darned if you darned if you don't.

Lastly, you could construct the smallest most streamlined email message and it's shot to heck because someone attached a 5MB attachment.  So, what's the real argument here?

My opinion is to worry more about setting the security of the Exchange server and less on the size of each email message.  Users can so easily change the format that it become such a small issue.  Plus, disk space is cheap.
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Author Comment

by:BlessingIT
ID: 33586869
Does anyone know of any existing alternatives besides changing format to HTML?
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:digitap
ID: 33588326
Changing the format to plain text.  Display hyperlinks as a URL.  The other end will have to copy and paste into the browser of their choice.
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Author Comment

by:BlessingIT
ID: 33646799
We do not want the user to have to copy and paste the link into the browser.  So it sounds as if the options are only what has already been mentioned?  Does anyone have any other suggestions?  Thank you for your time and help!
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:digitap
ID: 33646858
You're welcome.  I've requested attention on your question.  I believe a moderator may be able to alter your zones to hit a better expert audience.
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Author Comment

by:BlessingIT
ID: 33647154
Thank you, I appreciate your help!
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LVL 51

Assisted Solution

by:Steve Bink
Steve Bink earned 167 total points
ID: 33651947
I'm with digitap: your consultants should re-examine their advice.  

The space savings between HTML and Rich Text is not large.  The larger difference is between having only plain-text vs having two formats (plain text and HTML) for the same message.  Since you're already doing Rich Text, that is likely already happening.  All of the popular MUA implementations (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) will automatically generate multi-part email if the composition format is other than plain-text.  In any case, if you have that much of a space concern then you should be looking at another server with more resources to host your Exchange stores.  

As pointed out, HTML is an open standard, and can be read by every email client with which I am familiar.  That means if you craft in HTML, people outside of your organization using other email clients will not have issues with accessibility.  Rich Text is a proprietary specification from Microsoft, and some clients may not (fully) support reading or modifying documents in that format.  There have been many complaints in the past about the thoroughness of their specification white papers as released.  I am not sure where those complaints stand today, but to me, the point is moot.  X/HTML is ubiquitous, simple, and a core standard for structuring content.
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LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Bitsqueezer
Bitsqueezer earned 166 total points
ID: 33652465
Hi,

I can also only repeat what was said before: HTML surely increases the number of bytes in the same text. For example you need <b>bold text</b> to format a text in bold - but you also need a similar construct in other formats like RTF, with the difference that they are binary and not coded as text like in HTML. So if RTF uses one byte to encode bold text at the beginning and the end you would save 4 bytes in this example.

But as digitap already said: Attaching a file to the mail is the real problem in disk space on the server. In the companies I worked until now they simply have a mail file size for each user and if they reach this limit they cannot send any mail until they moved mails to a local archive or deleted them. Simple, but efective.

Next thing is the hyperlink: If you use Outlook or Outlook Express as mail client and you only want to enable hyperlinks than you can of course use simple, plain text - both mail clients have a text parser which shows hyperlinks as clickable hyperlinks even in plain text mails. If that is not enough then you can also program an add-in which parses any text like you want and install it on the client computers (but I wouldn't do that).

You should also think about not moving to HTML because of security reasons: HTML mails can easily be used to insert virus codes of any kind and not any of them will be found by antivirus software. Not to mention the HTML mails which contains linked pictures so that they are loaded when the mail will be opened - as they are not part of the mail they will not be scanned by mail virus scanners and must be checked in the moment they are opened. That also increases network traffic and the sender of those mails will track who opened such a mail to send more spam - and so on. You will not have such problems with RTF, but as you read above, it is no standard format and may not work in external mail clients of other companies.

So you must decide what you want: Relative security by using RTF, but no RTF standard mail client and maybe difficulties when opening / using HTML and you have no problem opeing it on any mail client, but high virus risk / or using plain text format and losing any formatting comfort but having absolute security and additionaly all hyperlinks are displayed clickable.

The disk space is absolutely no argument as it is REALLY cheap these days and you can limit the mail file size so there is no risk of using more than you have.

Cheers,

Christian
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Author Comment

by:BlessingIT
ID: 33683839
Thank you to everyone for all your responses.  

It sounds as if we need to consider security as more of an issue rather than space.  I will take this information back to the supervisors and they will need to decide what will be done.  

Thanks again to everyone for all your help!
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Author Closing Comment

by:BlessingIT
ID: 33810336
seems no one else has any other suggestions
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