102KB ought to be enough for any email

by @edent | # # # # | 9 comments | Read ~4,062 times.

Another day, another Gmail bug which won't get fixed.

The original Android phone - HTC Dream - had 192MB of RAM. The latest Android phones tend to have 6GB. A 32 times increase in a decade. Laptops have also leapt forwards in speed and memory. Sadly, no one on the Gmail team has noticed.

It's 2019, and Gmail app users are still seeing the dreaded "[Message Clipped] View entire message" error.

The text of Romeo and Juliet - truncated. A "View entire message" link appears on screen.

It's just as bad on the web version of Gmail - even on Desktop Chrome.
A truncated message.

Google don't even do fancy AI magic to truncate these messages. You'd think they'd truncate at the end of a word. Or even in the middle of a word. They don't.

Raw HTML in the middle of an email.
Nope, just slam straight through that HTML. YOLO!

What causes this? For unknown reasons, Gmail truncates messages at 102KB. That's about half the storage space of a floppy disk.

I'm talking 🖬, not 💾!

This is annoying for people sending newsletters - even the mighty MailChimp can do no more than offer some tips to shrink your latest newsletter.

Worse still, marketing emails know that if they pad out their messages, they can hide the unsubscribe link!

A message cut off just before the unsubscribe link.
Oh, and as a bonus, if you click on "View entire message" - you get the old version of Gmail and Google's logo.

The old version of the Gmail logo.

Google updated their logo in 2015. You'd think in the last four years, someone on the Gmail team would have received a long email and then filed a bug report. But no.

We can argue about whether emails should be chonkie-bois or not. But they are. People want full styling, images, and fancy features - not just ASCII text and the occasional uuencoded attachment. That's the world we're in now.

What can be done? There's literally no point me taking this up with Google. People have been complaining about this for over a decade and nothing has been done to fix it.

"User-focussed" my shiny metal arse.

So, here's a whinging blog post which - if I'm very lucky - won't make Google lock me out of my account again.

Bill Gates probably didn't say 640KB ought to be enough for anyone - but someone in the bowels of Google sure as hell believes 102KB ought to be enough for any email.

9 thoughts on “102KB ought to be enough for any email

  1. I think the real issue here it’s that even in 2019 we need to resort to tables and inline styles for most kinds of layout and visual appearance, which can explain most of the weight… If we had decent standards support and reliable CSS styling, then 102 kB would surely be enough for most messages

  2. Andrew McGlashan says:

    Put the content behind a link and share the link in the email. I agree that 102KB is very small these days, but with faster Internet connections it won't be long before people start sending really large files and think nothing of it.

    We do have https://send.firefox.com and other easy services to securely send large files to others. Gone are the times when an ordinary email message could be well contained in plain old text (NO HTML), I gave up on doing just text emails some time ago, but still.... the transport for SMTP is textual after all, as too is HTML, but with emails sending you to a server, it would save the payload on email systems with all the copies being sent everywhere whilst some may never even get opened, ever! The bits are there, don't waste them 😉

    1. @edent says:

      That's not a good idea. We have plenty of storage and bandwidth. If you put content behind a link, you make it harder to read and search.

  3. Šime Vidas says:

    make email crap
    introduce AMP Email
    ???
    profit

    (joke)

    1. mike says:

      That you say joke makes me wonder if you know that AMP for Email is a real thing. I don't know if anyone's using it yet, but it exists. Like Google set out to produce something that could be the answer to both "What's a worse idea than AMP?" and "What's a worse idea than HTML email?"

      1. Šime Vidas says:

        Yes, it’s a real thing. Pinterest and Google Docs are using it. The joke clarification is about me not wanting to suggest that Gmail is intentionally making email crap.

        1. mike says:

          AMP Email + Pinterest = 🤮

    2. Daryl says:

      Careful, the big G is listening ... they just might make AMP Email a thing and monopolize through that too

  4. Steven Hollingsworth says:

    There appears to me to be something utterly new going on with [Message clipped] that no one is talking about yet because the 102K limit is already too intrusive, but now it appears that messages may be being clipped to a far tighter limit for senders that Google in its infinite wisdom has found wanting in some way. I am a long-time member of knowledgepanel.com. The latest message I have from them are clipped at 14K or thereabouts. Yes, seriously. Keep these points in mind:
    – When I click show entire message, nothing new is revealed. It was showing it all to start with.
    – When I “Show original” it’s all there on one page (I have a big monitor), complete with text and HTML versions, simple ages-old, selective formatting.
    – When I “save original,”
    the example I am referring to (which I’d be happy to supply) is saved as an .eml file that is 14,085 bytes long.

    Is this something anyone knows anything about? The way [Message clipped] has been handled is really Google violating its “Do no evil” pledge and it’s getting worse instead of better.

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