Who Knew Email Subjects Are So Complicated

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2021-06-10 18:30:11

Did you know that email subjects, by default, only support 127 characters?!  I didn’t, and I ran into a “fun” puzzle of a problem earlier this year when a client of ours noticed a problem with Courier-built emails  in Microsoft Outlook.  Small rendering issues and bugs like this can give the wrong impression to a recipient of an email.  It can make the end user feel the product they are using is poorly planned or not tested.  Not even just that, but not having support for certain characters can prevent you from reaching customers in other languages and countries.

Any guesses why this happened?  Or what the email subject `should` be?   Well, the email subject is **French** and should be “Vèrifiez votre email” (Verify your email).  Let’s dive in, debug, and solve this problem together.

As any engineer in 2021, the first step was to Google the problem like: black diamond question mark email subject. This didn’t give us great answers, unfortunately. Some of the first results were from a Microsoft forum and the solution was asking people to update their local Outlook configuration thinking the problem was only a local one. The problem with this is that in order for us to be able to help, we would have needed to ask our customers (and all of their customers) to make this update. The lack of ability to reach all these people and clearly explain to them why they needed to do this meant that the solution was a no-go for Courier.

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