One of MIME's principal attractions to me is the *inclusion* of a richtext
scheme. One theme I hear from my user community is that senders wish to
specify the presentation of their message to their intended recipients.
Richtext provides a simple mechanism to specify the most commonly requested
attributes: style and spacing.
Exactly right. This is a very important thing to have and I for one would be
very upset if we lose it.
The advent of MIME does not imply the disappearance of all terminal-based
users from the Internet. There must be a graceful transition from the
world of glass-ttys to a window-based world. Without it there will be
little motivation to provide interoperable mailers between them. Removing
richtext removes one of the bridges between these worlds.
First of all, there intention is not to "remove" richtext, at least not in the
sense of getting rid of it completely. The intention is simply to move it to
a separate document that can proceed at its own pace. I suspect that the
revisions to richtext this time out will necessitate resetting it to proposed
standard. The rest of MIME will move to draft.
I am not terribly happy with this, precisely because this will be seen just as
you describe: as a betrayal of the installed base by removing a valuable and
powerful bridge. This was one of the primary design criteria behind MIME: we
looked at the historical reasons why previous attempts to standardize
multimedia had been less than sucessful, and we resolved not to repeat their
mistakes. I believe this is one of the reasons, if not the primary reason, why
MIME has been so sucessful in such short order.
However, I also feel we're caught between a rock and a hard place -- in order
to evolve richtext properly we have to change it in ways that necessitate
staying at proposed. Internet rules mandate this. But I also feel very very
strongly that MIME must move to draft ASAP. Both of these goals are more
important, in my opinion, than is the value that's added by keeping richtext in
the same RFC.
Granted, implementing richtext may increase the complexity of mailers that
would implement MIME. But because interoperability is one of the hallmarks
of Internet programming, it is worth the trouble to do this.
I concur. But this highlights the real issue here: what do we really mean when
we talk about MIME compliance? If we can arrange it so that richtext isn't lost
in the shuffle, even though it is in a separate document, we have lost nothing.
Let's focus our efforts on how to accomplish this. I do think it is possible
and I think both Nathaniel and I are very open to suggestions on how to insure