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Microsoft Office 365 Safe Links and rendering of links in emails into Timeline - use link text nor URL

Martyn Houghton

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Can we raise an enhancement request to have a setting to control the rendering of HTML Href within emails when emails are used to log or applied to Service Manager Requests. The setting is to determine what element of the Href is rendered into the text used as part of the timeline updated, i.e. the 'link text' or the 'url' value.

At the moment the email rendering to textual timeline inserts the whole 'url' and not the human intended 'link text'.

With the introduction of new security features in Office 365 in the form of Safe Links in Microsoft Defender for Office 365, embedded 'url' for Href in emails are encoded in a very long url which redirect all links to via the Microsoft's Safe Links dynamic checking facility rather then the original source url. 

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/security/office-365-security/atp-safe-links?view=o365-worldwide#:~:text=Safe Links scanning is enabled,Block the following URLs" list.

As these links are very long and also do not represent the original embedded link in a human readable form, we would like the setting to be added so the Href 'link text' is inserted into the textual timeline and not the 'url'' content. Without these setting the timeline entry become blotted and unreadable very quickly.



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@Martyn Houghton It's my understanding that you're talking about emails posted to the Request Timeline here - this is not an HTML view (for reasons discussed frequently elsewhere) it's the Plain Text body of an email which is rendered here. If you use the View Email option, which does render HTML, you will see the links rendered as per the standard.

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@Steve Giller

The system does render/remove HTML code within the email when it 'converted' into text entries in the timeline, or we would have timeline entries containing large volumes of HTML tags. The text conversion is explicit inserting the url element of the href HTML statement rather than the link text element.

I am aware of the requests to have timeline entries support rich text formatting rather than just plan text, however what we are asking here of for the text conversion process to insert the link text element.



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@Martyn Houghton The email standard requires an email to have a Plain Text body. This is what Hornbill uses to populate the Timeline.

If the email also has an HTML body (as most do) this will be the view you see in an email client such as Outlook or, indeed, Hornbill; however the Plain Text body does not contain any HTML tags or formatting, this includes anchors for URLS.
The HTML body will have:

<a href="https://www.domain.com/page">Friendly Link</a>

but the Plain Text body will have:


otherwise a user who chooses to view the email in plain text will not have access to the link - seeing "Friendly Link" is of no use.

Once the email has passed through the SafeLinks system the HTML body will have:

<a href="https://massively_long_safelinks_link_with_an_encoded_url_version_of_https://www.domain.com/page">Friendly Link</a>

and the Plain Text body will have:


in exactly the same way and for the same reasons.


Hornbill is doing what it is designed to do - presenting the Plain Text body as the Timeline/Details content and the HTML body in the "View Email" version.


Note: I'm sure that is somewhat oversimplified, and Development may wish to tweak the description, but 

12 minutes ago, Martyn Houghton said:

The system does render/remove HTML code within the email when it 'converted' into text entries in the timeline

is not correct - we are not removing anything, we are using the Plain Text body which is a required part (in fact, the only required part) of the email standard.

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On 11/5/2021 at 9:00 AM, Martyn Houghton said:

Hornbill would need to switch from inserting the Plain Text Body to rendering the HTML to Text format supported by the timeline such as a HTML to Wiki Markup convertor?

@Martyn Houghton because same like wiki we need a consistent method of parsing the HTML email part. Just thinking of the HTML that Outlook or Word creates, it will be a nightmare to come up with a parser for that... As such, for the foreseeable future Service Manager will use the plain text part of an email to create the timeline update.

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