HTML Rendered in IE 6, FireFox 2.0, and Word 2007.

My long-time and respected friend Bill McCarthy has taken issue with me regarding my suggestion that Word and IE use an external HTML rendering engine which Outlook could also use. He suggests I’m being impractical and gave me an example in his comment yesterday.

Bill says:

Okay, let me give you an example. This is a simple word docuemtn [sic] saved in html. I’ve trimmed all the style info.

This is word Word html

Not sure if that comes through there or not, but what it actually is is a sentence “This is Word html”. But it also contains info that I changed the “word” to “Word” (as in editing track changes. Now how word renders that is dependant [sic] on whether or nto [sic] it has show changes or not: IE has no idea of that. So the page layout IE does is goign [sic] to be completely different.

Bill’s comment is missing the mark in three ways.

  1. My suggestion doesn’t preclude a Word HTML rendering subclass from further processing the rendered HTML appropriately within Word. Likewise, an Outlook HTML rendering subclass could further process the HTML for security issues.
  2. My point isn’t about how Word renders HTML but how Outlook renders HTML.
  3. This subject stems from the fact that Microsoft products, regardless of the implementation, do not render valid, even simple, HTML correctly or consistently.

To counter Bill’s example, here is an example of simple HTML rendered in IE 6, Firefox 2.0, and Word 2007.

HTML Code follows (sorry for the image, but the WordPress widget for formatted HTML is stripping out important info)

HTML source code used in rendering examples

Critical elements to note in the source code are that I’m using embedded styles because I want a different printed view than the on-screen view. “Media” is unsupported in the Word rendering engine. Also, please note how simple the HTML is, and that it is the div and span tags that are particularly trashed in the Word 2007 engine.

HTML rendered in IE 6
HTML rendered in IE 6

HTML rendered in Firefox 2.0
HTML rendered in FireFox 2.0

HTML rendered in Word 2007 (note screen shot shows I’ve elected to keep the source, not destination formatting)
HTML rendered in Word 2007

Microsoft’s strategy may work fine within enterprises that can limit the audience to not only Microsoft products, but certain version of their products is, well, ridiculous and irritating to many developers and their clients.

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