File Transmission by Email
Disclaimer – this page was written many years ago
Image files may be in many formats, the most common being gif and jpeg/jpg. These are the best for transmitting via email as they are of relatively small file size. The tradeoff is that they don’t contain as much information as Tif/tiff files, which besides being readilly transportable between Mac and IBM are much better for further manipulation in a graphics program. Tif files are often several megabytes in size for a high resolution image, but are vastly superior if finished image quality is a priority. Another popular format is PSD, the native Photoshop format, which can be read and written by many high-end graphics programs. PSD files also tend to be very large. Avoid using Windows Bitmap bmp format.
If sending an image file in a less common format, it is worth checking that the recipient has a program which can read &/or manipulate it. Try to keep the filename as short as possible whilst still being meaningful, and avoid blank spaces in the filename.
Text files, often referred to as ASCII files, contain no formatting and usually have a suffix of .txt. These are most easilly transmitted either as an attachment to an email, or within the body of the email itself. A conventional email is a text file. It has become quite popular to send emails with embedded HTML, but such practice can be very frustrating for those recalcitrants whose antique email programs do not read the code (and are probably immune to viral attack).
Document files are formatted and come in many variations, often with the suffix of .doc. Not all doc files are the same – MS Word produces doc files, but there are many versions of Word and they are not always compatible. Programs other than Word may also produce .doc files. When transmitting a document file as an attachment, always inform the recipient of the originating program and its version to avoid confusion. Having said this, by far the most common doc files are Word 7 and Word 8.
If in doubt that the recipient can read the native format, save the file as an rtf (rich textured format) file, which is the most commonly used interchange format and can be read & written by most wp programmes. If the file has embedded images or other elements, these will be lost on conversion to rtf.
Most spreadsheet files can be fairly easily converted to HTML by your web programmer. However, as a rule HTML pages should be kept under 100k filesize, so if the spreadsheet file is quite large it would be prudent to divide it up into sections before transmission. This can save your programmer a lot of work. Excel files are probably the most common, and are favoured by this programmer.
OCR – Optical Character Reading
One cannot simply scan an article from a newspaper or magazine, transmit it as an image file to the recipient, and expect to have them magically transform it into HTML. OCR is usually much more successful when done first hand by someone very familiar with the hardware and software required, and is therefore best farmed out to a specialist who knows, when told that the results must be emailed to a web programmer, what is required.
Even quite large files can be transmitted via email, as you would know. However, there is a limit, and if for instance several large Tifs need to be sent, then probably the best method is to put them on a a CD and send it via courier or snailmail. Something to bear in mind here is that email boxes often have a limit which may be as low as 2 megabytes, so if you merrily post a dozen or so 300k files, not only will the last few of yours bounce, everyone else’s will too until the hapless recipient downloads the contents – after three weeks on holidays.
Email programs can be set up to perform all sorts of functions automatically. They can be set to ignore emails with attachments greater than a certain filesize, so you may find that your 4 megabyte email is ignored, despite the fact that you sent it three times. The program can also be set to ignore the address of someone who sends unwanted emails – forever! [more]
A zip file is a condensed archive produced by a program such as pkzip or winzip. A zip file has a .zip suffix. There are several other methods of condensing files which produce archives with different suffixes (ie Tar), but zip is by far the most common. Zip files can be produced as self-extracting archives with a .exe extension which in these days of viral attacks tend to be avoided where possible.