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Handling external refernces

1991-12-14 18:11:06
As with some of you, I've been uncomfortable with the mechanism for
referencing external body parts, even as Nathaniel and Ned have been
cleaning the mechanism up.

For starters, I think that the scheme that they offer in the current draft
will work, so what follows here should not be taken to claim that this
issue is a show-stopper.  I simply am searching for a cleaner mechanism.

As someone voiced earlier, having the mechanism under Message seems
linguistically flawed, since there is no implication that the external
object is, in fact, a message.  I therefore suggest that the mechanism
be placed under the more-general type of Application. 

More importantly, it seems to me that the fact of multiple access
mechanisms will be quite common and that we should facilitate it.  The
scheme in the current spec looks like it will work, but the fact that you
have to repeat the real content type, for each alternative access type,
feels klunky (that's a technical term) and I'd like to suggest the
following alternative:

From: someone
To: someone else
Content-type: application/external

Content-type: application/postscript
Access-type: NFS; Name=/pub/read-only/
Access-type: FTP;; user=anonymous; 
Access-type: FTP;; user=anonymous;

So, the application/external content type indicates that there is a
headers-only part, which contains the real content-type of the data to
be retrieved, and one or more specifications for methods of accessing
the file.