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The Continuing Struggle for Email Standards

Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

Last week we were made aware of a display issue specifically with the rendering of an HTML email template in the Yahoo Mail browser. According to the Email Standards Project the Yahoo Mail Browser currently has a status of "Excellent". Initially we could not replicate the issue that had been brought to our attention and we could not give an explanation to why it was happening. Upon asking for further technical details about the person's computer we learned that it was only happening in his Safari browser.

It turns out that there are a couple of potential issues with Yahoo Mail in Safari. The first is the level of security. By default in newer versions of the browser these security settings are preset and shouldn't be an issue, however in older versions of the browser the user will likely have to change the security settings to be at least 32 bit encryption. The second and the more likely reason for our particular issue has to do with the Flash plugin.

The combination of several elements causing this issue are like a "perfect storm" of technology working together to make your life miserable. However the issue did cause enough problems to have a decent knowledge base of how to deal with the issue. According to the research I did while looking into the issue, the following steps should be followed to make sure that your Yahoo Mail will work in Safari.

  1. Update to at least Safari 5.1.1 (Latest version as of this date is 6.0.2)
  2. Update to at least Adobe Flash 11
  3. Clearing the Flash Cache: Go to System Preferences, select Flash Player, then under Storage tab, click "Delete All..." button and then click "Delete Data" button.
  4. Restart Safari.

The above steps were taken from an Apple discussion about people having issues with Yahoo Mail not displaying email in their Safari Browsers. While this may not be the answer to every issue with Yahoo Mail, it is likely that if there is an issue, it will have to do with the software's interpretation of the HTML, not the HTML itself.

The goal of the Email Standards Project is to have a consistent standard of display of the HTML used in emails regardless of the rendering engine being used to display the email. By doing this, the intended design to represent branding in e-Newsletters or e-Stationery by a company is represented accurately no matter what platform or email client is being used.