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July 25, 2007

Gmail Improves Document Preview

If you use Gmail's "view as HTML" option to read attachments, you've noticed that the document doesn't include images, the formatting is sometimes different and long documents are clipped.

But there are good news. Gmail improved the conversion to HTML for Microsoft Office documents and the images are no longer ignored. You can also read the entire documents, without having problems with unexpected truncations. I tested this with a 3 MB document that included seven graphs and it was converted almost flawlessly.

I wonder why it took so long to improve the conversion and why other file types continue to be handled rather poorly.

{ Thank you, Azwandi.}


  1. It is a great feature, I also wish they will open Microsoft Office 2007 documents. I am unable to convert some 2007 documents in Google Docs.

  2. I have been seeing some images in HTML preview in Gmail for quite a long time. But, it's still far from perfect. I just tried it with some Word files that contain pictures, and it didn't show all the images inside the document. Also, those figures drawn in MS Word also do not appear.

  3. "I wonder why did it took so long to improve the conversion"

    Closed propietary formats such as Microsoft's .doc means no clear specification for developpers. Trying to convert these documents is very hard.

  4. It may be hard, but it's not impossible to do a fairly good conversion. Google Docs,, WordHTML CV and many other applications are able to convert doc files to other formats.

  5. The real question is: why don't they do any efforts in converting OpenOffice documents? Marketing I guess...

  6. I don't think it's a matter of marketing (huh? what do you mean by that exactly as Google isn't trying to market anything for M$) but more of a reality factor.

    Millions of people use M$ Office, whereas only a few thousand (at most) use Open Office.

    I'll be happy when Google and other online docs software providers eliminate M$ all together.

  7. its doesn't work. I think it in test now.

  8. From some experience I have in the document preview/conversion business I can tell you that it's very hard to provide good conversion service.
    I think google is doing this right, releasing in stages each release with what they know works.

    For example the only really good solution that currently exists for converting Office documents is using Office itself to do the job, this requires an Office installation on the computer doing the conversion (lots of $$$ to support a service like gmail). Don't forget computer power as well.

    In Short I beleieve google will be releasing a full solution eventually. No doubt it would be better if these formats where more open, but when you think of it even the conversion to HTML done by the office software itself is not usualy a very good one - and relies on functionality that is IE specific for the functionality that does exist...

  9. That a nice improvement to gmail :)


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