Our company's SPF record format is as follows:
"v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all a mx ip4:X.X.0.0/23 include:spf.example.com ?all"
So we have an "~all" in the middle of our SPF record. On the openspf.com website, they say this regarding the "all" mechanism:
This mechanism always matches. It usually goes at the end of the SPF record.
So, they don't say "all" HAS to go at the end of the SPF record, but that it USUALLY goes at the end.
At our company, lately we've been seeing some soft fails in emails sent from servers listed in our SPF record, yet our SPF record passes all validation tools I've found so far.
What I'm wondering is, would this "~all" directly after the include for Google Apps (_spf.google.com) cause parsing to stop and not recognize the remaining pieces of the SPF record? Would passing vs. soft-failing depend on who is parsing it and their specific implementation of how they process SPF records? Is there any reason to have an "all" mechanism that is not at the end of an SPF record?
And yes, I know we could just change our SPF record. This question is more about clarifying how this all works and not necessarily about resolving our specific situation.