Gmail Actually Gets Something Really Wrong.

I’m a huge fan of Gmail and Google Apps for many reasons. I love the new redesign, and how they’re finally promoting consistency across their major webapps. It makes me feel like the web could really be a viable alternative alternative to desktop software. I can even deal with slowness in Gmail, given the amount of work they need to do in order to keep your inbox snappy. They need to index every message, which means parsing every message, converting every attachment, and linking it the search architecture. In real time. Not easy‚Ķ

However, what I found today, was completely inexcusable: Gmail’s clipping “feature”. This is definitely a feature that sounds a lot more like a bug than a helpful tool.

Gmail Message clipping

What should be here is a few more links, some mouse text that contains our mailing address and unsubscribe links. What I did not show in this screenshot is the capacity for destruction this feature has on HTML emails. When the email is ‘clipped’, the HTML is broken at a random place, and not displayed. If your message is clipped at an inopportune place, there goes your entire HTML layout. In the best case, your HTML is simply truncated, leaving users with only a piece of their email.

As the entity sending this email, the responsibility falls on me to make sure that I send emails that are accessible, conform to CAN-SPAM, and are pleasing to the eye. Gmail bones me on three of these goals. Thanks to a lack of documentation as to how long an email can be without invoking the clipping feature. Most importantly, my users have no clear to unsubscribe from the list, since the most likely links to be clipped are the unsubscribe links.

I agree that performance is king, but never at the cost of the user.

Update: It seems like Gmail limits messages to around 102k characters before clipping. So the solution seems to be running HTML through a compressor. I found a pretty good one here

Aug 16th, 2010