Feedburner (now assimilated into Google as we all will be one day) provides phenomenal RSS feed optimization services. If you’ve found this post you probably already know that.
One of their many great tools is the “Headline Animator” which is a snippet that rotates your blog feed’s five most recent blog post titles. It’s well suited to be included in custom email signatures as a clever means of promoting your blog to unsuspecting recipients.
Enter the villain: Outlook 2007
As I’ve already complained about in a prior post, Microsoft took a big step back in HTML customization capability with Outlook 2007. Besides the horrible decision to use Word to render HTML for Outlook, the handy option for “advanced” (HTML) editing is gone from Outlook’s custom signature feature. This presents a problem to those of us who want to add the snippet code produced by FeedBurner’s Headline Animator to our Outlook 2007 email signature. It’s not that pretty, but following is a step-by-step guide to forcing Outlook 2007 to comply with our wishes.
The easy annoying workaround
1. After you set up your blog feed in feedburner (http://feedburner.google.com), go to the “Publicize” tab, and select “Headline Animator”, “Create new…”, set your preferences, name the snippet, then hit “Activate.”
2. Now click on the name of your snippet that just appeared under “Headline Animator” in the left column. You’ll see your snippet rotating headlines from your feed. Select “Other (just gimme the code)” and click next to see a pop-up with your code. Uncheck “Include a ‘Grab this’ link” and copy the code to Note Pad. You will need to use Note Pad, not Word or Word Pad, for all your edits (or an HTML editor if you have one).
3. Download this template and open with Note Pad. Open side-by-side this template file and the other Note Pad file into which you pasted your FeedBurner code. Then modify the template with your feedburner links and either delete or modify the alt tag and contact info above the snippet.
4. Enable Windows to see hidden files/folders. A guide for doing this can be viewed here.
5. In your modified Note Pad template file, choose “Save as” then navigate to:
Windows Vista— C:UsersuserAppDataRoamingMicrosoftSignatures
Windows XP— C:Documents and SettingsuserApplication DataMicrosoftSignatures
6. First, select “All Files” in the “Save as type:” field, then name and save your signature with an .htm extension (e.g. “feedburnersiganture.htm”).
7. Now open Outlook 2007 and go to Tools -> Options -> Mail Format -> Signatures and you should see your new signature with the feedburner snippet as a signature option.
Now, recipients will see your snazzy rotating FeedBurner headlines in your signature. All recipients that is except those using Outlook 2007 who will only see your most recent title. That’s right, Outlook 2007 has one last punch to throw. Microsoft has disabled rotating gifs from rotating in Outlook 2007 and provided us with no option to enable them. If you’re hard up for something to do you can vote for Microsoft to change this policy at this Microsoft page.
The good news is that almost all other mail clients don’t have this restriction, and even when being displayed in Outlook 2007 your snippet will still dynamically update to display a static most recent post title so all is not lost.