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Fixing up those Emails June 5, 2009

Posted by gordonwatts in TextToHTML.

Emails which contain links to images have long bothered me. I get a lot of them in my day job. They usually contains some descriptive text, then a link to a jpeg or an eps file, and then more text, and then more links.


Often they contain text that says “compare x and y” or similar. This is actually pretty painful: I have to click on all the links. Each image opens up in a separate web browser tab.


To compare them I have to click on each tab, back and forth. Never can see the images at the same time.

On my last plane ride back from Chicago I wrote a tiny little utility, TextToHTML, to take care of this:


You simply paste in the text from the email, click Render, and it will pop open one web page with all the text and images interleaved:


It also knows how to deal with eps files (it will download them locally and render them).

This thing is dirt simple. It can’t do password protected files yet, for example. Suggestions here in the comments or on the project web site are welcome, of course. Feel free to download and play!


1. Lisa Smith - June 6, 2009

That’s really neat. What does it do if the URL leads to a non-static or non-image source? Does it try to embed the data?

2. gordonwatts - June 6, 2009

Actually, that is an excellent point. It bases its decisions on the “.png” or whatever, not on the mime-type that comes back from the server. So if you put in a random link that was to some dynamic web page that returned an image it wouldn’t even try to translate that. I’ll add it to the list. You have any url’s that do that? Then I can test…

3. Lisa Smith - June 7, 2009

I guess any page that depends on advertising would be a good example, as they are usually loaded with animated images and complex HTML. Or maybe a video file? (The same way you would embed a YouTube media player, for example.)

Maybe the code could check for several different media types and render according to the value returned. Well, depending on what you want to use the utility for. It reminds me a little bit of TeX. 🙂

4. gordonwatts - June 7, 2009

Ok – I like the youtube link idea. That certianly would be one to add in. It would require special processing. But a flickr link would be one of those funny ones – you couldn’t tell the returned data type without actually asking for it. So that is a good idea.

Imbedding a whole html page in the page is an interesting idea. I’d not even given that any thought. Is it possible? Perhaps iwth a iframe or something?

5. Gordon - June 8, 2009

You get nice E-mail. I tend to get nothing but spam, spam, spam, eggs and spam, sausage and spam, spam, spam, bacon, eggs and spam, and spam.

6. gordonwatts - June 8, 2009

Ha! Right! If only most of my emails looked like this!

7. gordonwatts - June 10, 2009

I added the youtube thing in – so next time I make a new version it should be there.

Gordon Stangler - June 13, 2009

That’s really cool.

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