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Today’s Technical Challenge

I like the semantic web. That means that when I create a website I use markup as its intended. We used to have to use tables to make elegant layouts. Browsers have matured and become more compliant to the HTML specification. Now tables can be used for tabular data; however, designers still have tools which cut and slice designs up into tables rather than using CSS. Tables have their place in HTML. Specifically, tables use be used for presenting tabular data but not for arranging graphics or chopped up pieces of images in the browser window.

Menus and navigation are lists semantically speaking. Of course, no one wants to see a menu with a bunch of dots beside it nor should ever menu be presented as a vertical list with indentions for submenus. Using CSS we can remove the bullets, turn the list horizontal, and make the submenus appear as submenus when the mouse rolls over the navigation. This works great in a browser and because of the semantic nature will present well in a pda, phone or other mobile device. However, the WYSIWYG editor in an email client wreaks havoc on the page. "Huh?" is the correct response because really web pages, particularly dynamic web pages, should not be sent by email. Instead a link to the web page should be sent. BUT Internet Explorer is kind enough to provide under its FILE menu (PAGE menu in IE7) an option to "Send Page by Email" which in theory will deliver an HTML email that is an exact representation of the web page.

In reality, in a specific case which has not been narrowed down yet, the CSS menu is rendered with conditional comments.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>o<!–[endif]–>

Obvious steps have been to make sure that IE is upgraded to IE7 and that the email client is updated. And to confirm that the email is being sent as HTML and not plain text. Aside from returning to a tabled design, what other options should be explored?