My home terminal is a $500 laptop running <bold>Kermit</bold>. I would
like to be able to read MIME messages on it without having to go and
sell it and buy a $2000 '386 machine running Windows or to carry around
a $10000 unix portable. That implies some amount of restraint in the
amount of technology brought to bear on the problem.
This is a perfectly valid concern. I am personally interested in much the
same problem, that is, how to display MIME on fairly dumb terminals (VT100
I don't see that there will be too big a problem though, since you simply drop
the rendering your reader cannot deal with. But I have not written one yet, so
I'm not sure about this. It looks OK from reading the specification, but I have
to see it in action before I'll know whether it is really useful.
I'm perfectly willing to type in MIME messages with my own damn fingers
cause it doesn't seem to be much more difficult than getting one or two
headers right and putting in the right kind of markup as needed. I
don't expect to use any parts of the standard that are too hard to
remember off the top of my head. I'm not going to recompile every
single news and mail program on the machine, not just yet.
Hmm. Well, I was hoping to be able to use something a little better, like
a slightly extended editing environment. You don't want to know what I have to
contend with in this regard. If they only used EMACS...
It appears from looking at the sample directory that I'm going to
need to change the mail->news gateway here to pass through one
more header: Content-type. I am hoping against all hope that
that's all I have to do. I am also hoping that real richtext
mail readers do the sensible thing with whitespace between paragraphs,
because I don't intend to put in little spaceships at the end of
There are two issues here. The first is that news <> mail. There is a separate
group that works on NNTP and news-transport and article definition issues. They
have indicated that they will use MIME, but it is not at all clear that they
will use all of it. Furthermore, there are significant gateway and encoding
issues that probably need to be addressed. Some of the people that do this work
(Elliot?) read this group, or used to, and can probably fill you in on the
current status of netnews development a lot better than I can.
In fact, if the news folks could fill us in with some kind of cross posting to
the ietf-822 list, I'm sure a lot of people will be interested in whatever
is going on.
The second issue is a simple one. You definitely need to gateway one additional
header, Content-Transport-Encoding. The only other one that might be useful
is the MIME-Version: header, which you need if you want to be able to tell
a MIME-compliant message from a one that's not. Keep in mind that Content-Type
is used for other purposes sometimes.
I also don't know about the status of digests in netnews. Some newgroups are
digestified (e.g. comp.risks) others are digestified as mail but undigestified
as news. I really don't know how the multipart nature of MIME is going to be
handled in news. I hope that it can be done nicely so that digests can be read
in a friendly way, and I see no reason for it to be done badly.
The one application that needs to be fixed to "do the right thing"
with markup is rn. If the patches to rn to get it to read MIME
stuff are in any of the kits I will run it. Otherwise I'll wait.
I'd like to be able to help, but I don't use rn. (How many news readers are
there? As many as there are mail UAs, I'll bet.) I use ANU NEWS, and I plan
to work with the author of that package to get MIME support into it.
I suspect that with the terminal here I only get one level of
emphasis (bold, maybe, or inverse video) so the foopy all-singing
all-dancing stuff is right out. (Actually, no I take that back,
Kermit can be coerced into doing the right thing with ISO Latin-1
so something that gives me that would win too.)
Kermit is actually quite good at character set conversions. I don't know how
that applies to operation as a terminal emulator, but I know that it handles
file character conversion just fine.
But more to the point, Kermit is supposed to emulate a VT300 or VT400 or
something like that. You should be able to get at least three different types
of emphasis (reverse, bold, underlining) and you should be able to use more
than one at once. This may be somewhat dependent on your display adaptor. It
used to be a problem, at any rate, but I don't keep up with all the details of
what PC Kermit can do these days.
You all can argue all you want about comment nesting. I just want to
be able to boldface things in netnews.
My sentiments exactly!!!
Once we have that down pat the
next thing to do is to write multipart stuff that has a little bit of
boldface at the top and a reference to an external resource at the
bottom, like a live link to an FTP site, on-line public catalog, WAIS
index, gopher menu, archie search, etc etc, so you can note where
something is in an unambiguous way. Again, if it's not too huge a
production, I will start posting these out to the net in places
where unambiguous external references are really needed: groups
like alt.wais, comp.archives.admin, and (newly) alt.gopher where
people are talking all the time about something that's somewhere else.
I think the use of external references in news articles has enormous potential,
but it is not something we gave a lot of consideration to. News is, after all,
a different beast and it has a different group of people taking care of it.
I can think of one thing that's missing right off -- a UUCP-style external
reference. It is definitely possible to arrange for such transfers over UUCP,
but there's no way to describe the information in the current external
reference stuff, as far as I know. Again, this is outside of our purview. (It
may be outside of the News Working Group purview too, since UUCP is not an
Internet standard protocol. I've recently had a real education in what and what
cannot be done in a standards-track document.)
In the fullness of time I want to drag an icon out of my mail message
into my snappy internet navigation tool so that I can find something
that someone else has mentioned and tell someone else that there's
interesting things out there.
[A four dimensional dancing panda was included in the original text of
this message, but your mail reader is too stupid to show it.]
Too right -- my mail reader may win awards as the dumbest on the net.