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mailto links (#1010)

Topics/tags: Rants, technology

The other day, I clicked a link on the class roster page Grinnell’s Blackboard System, officially known as Pioneer Web and colloquially referred to as P’Web. Although my mail reader popped up, as I had expected, the To: field was incorrect. Here’s what appeared in that field, appropriately anonymized.

A mail window.  In the 'To' field is the following: ' Rebelsky&Subject=84607 Course Message&'

I observed the same behavior whether I used Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Opera [1]. Why didn’t the message appear correctly? Some folks would say that it’s because I’m using a Macintosh. But I believe the problem is a bit more complex than that. I think it has to do with how they formatted the mailto link. Here’s the link that appeared in the original. Rebelsky&Subject=84607 Course Message&

Let’s try a series of experiments. We’ll start with just the basics.

Yup. That works fine.

Now, let’s add the subject. I don’t particularly like the subject that Blackboard chooses, but I’m not going to be picky. Course Message

Nope. It all appears in the To field.

Okay. Let’s check the documentation for mailto URIs. Ah! Start with a question mark, not an ampersand. I knew that. Or at least I should have known that. Course Message

Yup. That works. That is, the appears in the To: field and the useless 84607 Course Message appears in the subject. Now let’s try the longer one. Rebelsky&Subject=84607 Course Message&

That works just like the prior one. I wonder whether I can futz with it? Kington&Subject=84607 Course Message&

Nope. It makes no difference. So why do they generate such a long URI? I have no idea. In any case, it’s time to report the issue to ITS so that clicking on the link works appropriately.

Version 1.0 of 2020-02-06.