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Re: Line Wrapping Question

1996-02-08 02:56:17
At 8:31 AM 2/7/96, Sukvinder Singh Gill (Exchange) wrote:
I'd like to get some advice on a problem that many people
using our product have commented on.

Currently, when sending Internet Mail with long lines, we
default to using QP encoding so that MIME aware clients
can unwrap the lines, and display as required on their
viewers. (We use 140chars as the threshold)

Hello, Mr. Exchange :-)!

I'm confused about your 140 character threshold.  140 is the threshold of
what?  Your QP-encoder should be emitting lines of text no longer than 76

We have received numerous complaints (most people assumed
that this was a bug) from people that use non-MIME aware
apps about the equal signs on every line.

We also have encountered these complaints.

There is no perfect solution.  QP is intended to convey information to a
MIME-aware UA.  Someone reading a message containing QP with a UA that
doesn't follow MIME rules is gonna see stuff they think looks funny.
There's no 2 ways about that.

We wrestled with this in Eudora's design literally for years.  The problem
predates QP.   Without MIME a UA designer has to make assumptions about the
nature of both sender and receiver's display.  But windowing systems
invalidate the assumptions.

The problem you have to solve is facilitating communication between people
whose systems are built under conflicting assumptions about what can be
displayed and how it is displayed.

What to do about those awful equal signs is putting the emphasis in the
wrong place.

 QP line-wrapping permits the sender to signal where line breaks should
occur and where line breaks can be ignored.  QP also deals with 8-bit
character codes which can be rendered as printable glyphs assuming your
display is not limited to USASCII.  But only MIME-aware UAs are prepared to
deal with the encoding.  Over the years there have been Luddites who have
loudly proclaimed that QP is wrong because it makes the text worse.

As a consequence, Eudora goes to extrodinary means to estimate what is a
reasonable presentation of a message without QP to permit those who are
forced to live with the Luddites among them to be able to lead a reasonably
tranquil life.  Users have to have to be able to choose whether or not to
use the capability, because only they can decide what is required for the
message they are trying to express.  And their UA must arm them with enough
information so they can choose wisely.  But it cannot make the choice for

Eventually the benefits of richer character sets overwhelm even the most
ardent Luddite.  Or they die.  One or the other is guaranteed.

Of your choices, we are closest to a).  However, Eudora encourages the use
of QP.  If other MIME-compliant UAs do likewise, eventually d) will come to

john noerenberg
  Be sure of this, O young ambition, all mortal
  greatness is but disease.
  -- Herman Melville, "Moby-Dick", 1851

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