Genii Weblog

Top 10 rendering goals for iFidelity (successor to CoexLinks)

Fri 2 Jan 2009, 10:00 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I was talking with the support team, and they thought I should post some simple, clear goals for how iFidelity for Lotus Notes will improve email rendering.  In other words, what is done wrong now that could be improved.  Since it is the start of a New Year, there are Top 10 lists everywhere, so I thought I'd put together a Top 10 rendering goals for iFidelity.  This is not necessarily comprehensive, but should provide some insight to what you might expect.  Below the list, I will show an annotated version of the Outlook image from my previous post to point out some of these issues.  As I investigate the issues with the Support team, I may come up with additional items (in which case it will no longer be a Top 10 list, of course).  These are numbered not by importance, but to make the annotation easy.  This one example shows nine of the ten issues addressed, which is a bit contrived - usually only about four or five are in any one email message which includes a table).

  1. Thin borders which may be on or off as they are in Notes (Domino uses the border width for the top left cell for all borders in the table, and the crude thick HTML border is used)
  2. Colored table borders (Domino uses either black borders or no borders)
  3. Fonts sized in point sizes rather than in the HTML sizes.  (Domino rounds to the HTML sizes, thus making 11pt and 12pt the same, for example)
  4. Font face accuracy for default fonts (Domino does not specify font face or size if it is "Default Sans Serif 10pt", but that means it often switches to Serif 12pt)
  5. Exact margins/indentation (Domino uses crude UL tag positioning for margins, leading to unexpected results that can look unprofessional)
  6. Accurate table cell widths (Domino tends to make a hodgepodge of cell widths, whether expressed in percentages or fixed widths)
  7. Text highlighters (Domino disregards this information, often losing critical contextual information)
  8. Proper list handling (Domino does not render nested lists well, and indents in large, crude increments)
  9. Row and cell padding in tables (Domino ignores entirely, thus squeezing tables together and eliminating white space that was designed to be there)
  10. Extended paragraph such as borders and coloring (Domino discards these entirely)

Besides these are some wish list items such as drop shadows, but they will only be implemented fully if time and technology allow.  Some things, such as tabbed tables, can be generated by the engine but not in a way that will work in Outlook, so it will be turned off unless a work-around can be found.  The acid test of iFidelity will be whether it can improve these ten issues substantially.

Outlook version which arrived with annotations

Outlook email version annotated

Original Notes e-mail which was sent to external client (for comparison)

Notes email version sent

Update: A user requested I show what this looked like when using iFidelity

Outlook version after being converted by iFidelity (pre-beta) and then sent via Domino

iFidelity email version in Outlook

Copyright 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

746.1. Erik Brooks
(01/02/2009 12:10 PM)

Glad to see I'm not the only one who still uses MS Paint for occasional screenshots. :-)

746.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(01/02/2009 12:57 PM)

@Erik - LOL. It may not be the best, but it is the most convenient!

746.3. Stephan H. Wissel
(01/02/2009 09:37 PM)

The price for "most convenient" is definitely for SnagIt once you got over the inconvenience of buying and installing it. Works even on Wine.

746.4. Colin Williams
(03/01/2009 11:55 p.m.)

Nah, its FastStone Capture all the way! :)

@Ben - please sell your fancy socks rendering skills to IBM and make a fortune...PLEASE!

746.5. Ben Langhinrichs
(01/04/2009 06:56 AM)

@Colin - It takes two to tango. IBM has to be interested in doing rendering better first, so talk to them.

746.6. Lissette
(01/22/2009 07:08 PM)

So what does it look like when the end-user replies to the Outlook version converted by iFidelity (pre-beta) and then sent via Domino? What does it look like in Notes?

746.7. Ben Langhinrichs
(01/22/2009 08:15 PM)

Lissette - That depends to a great extent on which version of Notes you use. In Notes 8/8.5, the rendering will b very good, since Outlook will preserve the MIME and the new IE component in Notes 8/8.5 will read it. In earlier version, there will be less fidelity. We are working on a solution for that, but it may or may not be in the first version of iFidelity.

746.8. Bruce Lill
(02/06/2009 08:46 AM)

@stephan Lightscreen is fast easy and portable. no install and runs from a thumbdrive. supports png, gif and jpg