I had the opportunity to talk to the Nashville Software School today as they wrap up their class. I chose to talk about my thoughts on interviewing techniques and freelance vs full time employment. I could have written the story either way, but this way was fun :)
Clients are a blessing and a curse – in my line of work, you encounter a ridiculous amount of surprises when you get started on projects. Today I offer up a short post on some things I found out when formatting a custom email for delivery to a massive corporation … who primarily uses Lotus Notes (versions under 8). The email I created which was syntactically beautiful for all other email clients and web (GMail, outlook, iPhone, etc) became 100% unusable in Lotus Notes.
Here are my findings – I hope they help you in your journey to supporting outdated enterprise email clients.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Formatting HTML Emails for Lotus Notes
- Do everything possible in semantically correct HTML
- Do not put your style tags in the header. If required, put css in-line – but know this, there is a great chance that they will get ignored
- If you need to have padding or margins, most of the time those are ignored if done via CSS padding/margin attributes. If you need them, it is best to do nested tables and adding padding with the cellpadding=”10″ attribute
- When you use tables (and trust me, you should always use tables), I saw more success from applying fixed width sizing to the table and to the individual cells. Don’t forget — if you are using cellpadding, make sure you subtract those widths from the table cells too!
- Don’t use <p> tags. Use <div> tags or <span> tags. P tags are uncontrollable due to defaults in Lotus Notes. If you use DIV or SPAN, you should still use them inside of TABLES to have more control.
- If possible, use the BGCOLOR attribute on <table> and <td> tags as close as possible to where the color is needed. If you only do it at the TABLE level, the cells may inherit from the BODY tag or other parent instead
- Don’t use BORDERS at all! It seems that the minimum border width in Lotus is 5px no matter what you do !IMPORTANT :D Just get rid of all the borders both in your CSS and on TABLEs and cells.
- Lotus Notes (versions 6.5 and 7 at least) do NOT support .PNG. That means you have to make all images in .GIF or .JPG format. Have fun with that. It literally will not render a .PNG file
How to Do Testing?
I can not speak highly enough of LitmusApp.com – they are what I used to do 95% of my upfront testing (with the last 5% being sending test emails to select clients using Lotus Notes). They have tremendous support for many email clients and browsers, but important to my scenario, they have lotus notes 6.5, 7. 8 and 8.5 that I could test in within minutes.
It is bittersweet, but after 10 years of running our screen-printing company, we’ve decided that we can no longer devote the appropriate time to it. It was Amy and my very first small business startup and since, we’ve started more than 10 additional companies!
We have had a great time working with you to create shirts for events and adventures in all of your lives and we are grateful for the business and friendships that grew because of it. I wish I could recommend someone else to do the work for your in our absence, but honestly, no one does what we do anymore for the price.
Above is a photo from 2004 from a Jimmy Buffet party where we brought t-shirts for everyone there. It was a fun ride, but time to clear some space for the next big thing.
Southern Startup Hospitality from chris mcintyre on Vimeo.
This is my presentation about my involvement in the Jumpstart Foundry, as well as why I believe in the Southern Startup Hospitality that exists in Nashville. From the Jumpstart Foundry Investor Day 2011.
Open your rolodex. Open your laptop. Open your checkbook.
On August 25th, 2011, the start-up accelerator I have spent the better part of the last year planning and working with is having their grand finale, the Jumpstart Foundry 2011 Investor Day! 6 companies were chosen and given 14 weeks, $15,000 and a hand picked group of 60 Nashville mentors (who are rock stars in their own right) to build their companies. Would you like to watch this awesome bunch of start-ups launch their companies right here in Nashville? Signup today to attend the Investor Day (limited seating, sign up fast)!
What can you expect to see? Well, I don’t want to give too much away (you can read a bit about the companies here), but let me tell you – this is an amazing bunch of entrepreneurs! We took submissions from companies all around the world to come to Nashville and work with the JSF. Over 100 applicants, 8 countries and 25 cities applied! It was hard to whittle down the list, for sure. Lots of reading, exchanging 100’s of emails, flying around for meetings, skype meetings, in person meetings, and lots of internal debate. Needless to say, I am absolutely amazed by the companies we chose and how far they have come in the last 13 weeks.
The JSF is in it’s second year, and last years start-ups are doing amazing things! Check out some of the following 2010 companies if you don’t believe me: Bizen, SourceYourCity and SplitSecnd (see them all here). This is what I consider to be a historic event for Nashville – 6 start-ups exploding out of an intense accelerator program, primed for investment!
Don’t miss your chance to attend Investor Day, get your name on the list today! RSVP Here.
As a final note, if you are a technologist, startup or entrepreneur looking for a way to accelerate your company, you should check out the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. If you are on the brink of a great startup idea and think the 2012 Jumpstart Foundry accelerator might be right for you – we will start accepting applications soon. Hone your presentation now!