“If I spike you, you’ll know you’ve been spoken to.”

Camberwell Carrot

So, the other day, I was asked to set up HTML for an e-mail that someone else—let’s call them Agent B—is sending. Today Agent B sent us a preview of the e-mail, with the Agent B logo added at the top and the usual “Click here to unsubscribe, etc., etc.” at the bottom, but the middle of the message—my part—has become completely verkakte in the process. So I looked at the code and found that my nice, clean, valid HTML had been run through MS Word’s garbagealator. For example, this—

<p>Sunday, May 18, 2008<br /> 11am to 5pm<br /> The Times Center<br /> 242 West 41st Street</p>

—was converted to this—

<p = style=3D'mso-margin-top-alt:0in;margin-right:7.5pt;margin-bottom:12.0pt; margin-left:7.5pt'><font size=3D3 color=3Dblack face=3DHelvetica><span = lang=3DEN style=3D'font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Helvetica;color:black'>Sunday, May = 18, 2008<br> 11am to 5pm<br> The<span class=3Dapple-converted-space> <st1:place = u2:st=3D"on"><st1:placename u2:st=3D"on"></span><st1:place w:st=3D"on"><st1:PlaceName = w:st=3D"on">Times</st1:placename></st1:PlaceName><span class=3Dapple-converted-space> <st1:placetype = u2:st=3D"on"></span><st1:PlaceType = w:st=3D"on">Center</st1:placetype></st1:place></st1:PlaceType></st1:place= ><br> <st1:street u2:st=3D"on"><st1:address u2:st=3D"on"><st1:Street = w:st=3D"on"><st1:address w:st=3D"on">242 West 41st = Street</st1:address></st1:street><u1:p></u1:p></st1:address></st1:Street>= </span></font><font color=3Dblack face=3DHelvetica><span = style=3D'font-family:Helvetica;color:black'><o:p></o:p></span></font></p>=

I can’t tell if Word’s supposed HTML converter is being introduced into the workflow through Constant Contact, which Agent B uses to produce its e-mails, or through Agent B’s own e-mail client (e.g., Outlook), so I’m not sure how to make this not happen. But in the meantime, can anybody please explain to me what the hell Microsoft’s people were thinking/smoking when they set up Word to create such disgusting code?

No, I mean, really—how freaking high would you have to be to sign off on a module that generates code like that? “Good work, team! We can cross ‘HTML export’ off the list! Woot!” And how do the people who made this look at themselves in the mirror each morning?

Update: After further troubleshooting, I’m pretty sure the crap is getting inserted by the receiving e-mail clients (Outlook, Entourage), not Constant Contact.

Photo: Pete et Camberwell Carrot by privatenobby / LLewleyn Williams a.k.a. SCUD; some rights reserved.

4 thoughts on ““If I spike you, you’ll know you’ve been spoken to.”

  1. I saved the following as a Word document:

    Sunday, May 18, 2008 11am to 5pm The Times Center 242 West 41st Street

    I e-mailed it as an attachment to myself at a gmail account and chose the view attachment as html option. Gmail produced the following code (I’ve changed the angle bracket to square brackets to the code doesn’t get enacted):

    [p][font size=”2″ face=”Courier New”]Sunday, May 18, 2008 [br] 11am to 5pm [br] The Times Center [br] 242 West 41st Street[/font>[/p]

    The only thing I can think is that for whatever reason, Microsoft must have been trying to discourage people from using Word to save documents as html.

  2. Bingo. More specifically, Microsoft gains from people being afraid to program or code for themselves. As long as they can make open standards seem scary, they win.

    I sometimes wonder where we’d be if Microsoft hadn’t been there to hold us all back.

  3. We have one client with a mix of Macs and Windows machines that we see this with all the time. It seems to be Outlook doing it, but I wonder if gmail plays a role (they have a google-hosted mail). And yes, what the hell was MS smoking? Most likely large bills.

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