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Impending changes to "editheader" draft.

2004-11-10 14:19:51

On Wed, Nov 03, 2004 at 11:45:40AM -0500, Cyrus Daboo wrote:
If any document authors will not be at the meeting, either in person or via 
jabber, could they please send me privately a summary of the state of their 
document so I can present that as part of our discussions, thanks.

The "editheader" draft is due for replublication and move towards last

The changes I've made in this pre-publication version closely follow
the workgroup recommendations from the list; in particular, I've
flipped the sense of what should happen if the same message gets filed
twice into the same folder (but with different headers).

The thing I'd like to do before moving this to draft is get rid
of a lot of little parameters on deleteheader that control wich header
where gets deleted.

Right now, deleteheader has the following syntax:

                [":index" <fieldno: number> [":last"]]
                [COMPARATOR] [MATCH-TYPE]
                <field-name: string>
                [<value-patterns: string-list>]

I want to reduce that to

                [COMPARATOR] [MATCH-TYPE]
                <field-name: string>
                [<value-patterns: string-list>]

and always delete all instances of the header.

The typical use case for deleteheader is to make sure
a header field that one adds doesn't already exist.
(For example, when adding a header that communicates result
of a spam scan to a client, one may want to first delete
other header fields of the same name.)

The [":index" <fieldno: number> [":last"]] stuff specifies
which single header to delete, and can be used to e.g. edit
out "Received:" lines that one does't want to reveal towards
the outside world.  But part of that can be done by matching
the header _value_; and I don't think the rest of the users
can stay awake long enough through the explanation of how
the :index and :last attribute interact to comfortably
ignore it.  This is a lot of mechanism for very little
use.  Let's get rid of it.

QUESTION: Is there a use case for :index/:last that
makes a compelling argument to keep it?

Network Working Group                                       Jutta Degener
Internet Draft                                             Sendmail, Inc.
Expires: May 2005                                           November 2004

                      Sieve -- "editheader" extension
                         [PRE-REPUBLICATION DRAFT]

Status of this memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all
   provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
   months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other
   documents at any time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-
   Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as
   "work in progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at


   This document defines two new actions for the "sieve"
   language that add and delete e-mail header fields.

1. Introduction

   Email headers are a flexible and easy to understand means
   of communication between email processors.
   This extension enables sieve scripts to interact with other
   components that consume or produce header fields by allowing
   the script to delete and add header fields.

2. Conventions used.

   Conventions for notations are as in [SIEVE] section 1.1, including
   use of [KEYWORDS] and "Syntax:" label for the definition of action
   and tagged arguments syntax.

   The term "header field" is used here as in [RFC-2822] to mean a
   logical line of an e-mail message header.

   The capability string associated with extension defined in this
   document is "editheader".

3. Action addheader

        "addheader" [":last"] <name: string> <value: string>

   The addheader action adds a header field to the existing
   message header.  The name MUST be a valid 7-bit US-ASCII header
   field name as described by [RFC-2822] "field-name" nonterminal.

   If the specified field value does not match the RFC 2822
   "unstructured" nonterminal or exceeds a length limit set by
   the implementation, the implementation MUST either flag an
   error or encode the field using folding white space and the
   encodings described in RFC 2047 or RFC 2231 to be compliant
   with RFC 2822.

   An implementation MAY impose a length limit onto the size of
   the encoded header field; such a limit MUST NOT be less
   than 998 characters, not including the terminating CRLF
   supplied by the implementation.

   By default, the header field is inserted at the beginning of
   the existing header.  If the optional flag ":last" is
   specified, it is appended at the end.

        /* Don't redirect if we already redirected */
        if not header :contains "X-Sieve-Filtered"
                ["<kim(_at_)job(_dot_)tld>", "<kim(_at_)home(_dot_)tld>"]
                addheader "X-Sieve-Filtered" "<kim(_at_)job(_dot_)tld>";
                redirect "kim(_at_)home(_dot_)tld";

4. Action deleteheader

                [":index" <fieldno: number> [":last"]]
                [COMPARATOR] [MATCH-TYPE]
                <field-name: string>
                [<value-patterns: string-list>]

   By default, the deleteheader action deletes all occurrences
   of the named header field.

   The field-name is mandatory and always matched as a
   case-insensitive us-ascii string.  The value-patterns,
   if specified, are matched according to the match type and
   comparator.  If none are specified, all values match.

   The field-name MUST be a valid 7-bit header field name as
   described by the [RFC-2822] "field-name" nonterminal.

   If :index <fieldno> is specified, the attempts to match 
   a value are limited to the header field <fieldno> (beginning
   at 1, the first named header field).  If :last is specified,
   the count is backwards; 1 denotes the last named header field,
   2 the second to last, and so on.  The counting happens
   before the <value-patterns> match, if any;
        deleteheader :index 2 :contains "Received" "via carrier-pidgeon"

   deletes the second "Received:" header field if it contains
   the string "via carrier-pidgeon" (not the second Received: field
   that contains "via carrier-pidgeon").

5. Interaction with Other Sieve Extensions

   Tests and actions such as "exist" or "header" that examine
   header fields MUST examine the current state of a header as
   modified by any actions that have taken place so far.
   As an example, the "header" test in the following fragment will
   always evaluate to true, regardless of whether the incoming
   message contained an "X-Hello" header field or not:

        addheader "X-Hello" "World";
        if header :contains "X-Hello" "World"
                fileinto "international";

   Actions that create messages in storage or in transport to
   MTAs MUST store and send messages with the current set of
   header fields.

   For the purpose of weeding out duplicates, a message modified
   by addheader or deleteheader MUST be considered the same as
   the original message.  For example, in an implementation that
   obeys the constraint in [SIEVE] section 2.10.3 and does not deliver
   the same message to a folder more than once, the following
   code fragment

        addheader "X-Flavor" "vanilla";

   MUST only file one message.  It is up to the implementation
   to pick which of the redundant "fileinto" or "keep" actions is
   executed, and which ones are ignored.

   The "implicit keep" is thought to be executed at the end of
   the script, after the headers have been modified.  (However,
   a canceled "implicit keep" remains canceled.)

6.  IANA Considerations

    The following template specifies the IANA registration of the Sieve
    extension specified in this document:

    To: iana(_at_)iana(_dot_)org
    Subject: Registration of new Sieve extension

    Capability name: editheader
    Capability keyword: editheader
    Capability arguments: N/A
    Standards Track/IESG-approved experimental RFC number: this RFC
    Person and email address to contact for further information:

    Jutta Degener

    This information should be added to the list of sieve extensions
    given on

7. Security Considerations

   Someone with write access to a user's script storage may use this
   extension to generate headers that a user would otherwise be
   shielded from (by a gateway MTA that removes them).

   A sieve filter that removes headers may unwisely destroy
   evidence about the path a header has taken.

   Any change in a message content may interfere with digital
   signature mechanisms that include the header in the signed
   material.  Since normal message delivery adds "Received:"
   header fields to the beginning of a message, many such schemas
   are impervious to headers prefixed to a message, and will
   work with "addheader" unless :last is used.

   Any decision mechanism in a user's filter that is based
   on headers is vulnerable to header spoofing.  For example,
   if the user adds an APPROVED header or tag, a malicious sender
   may add that tag or header themselves.  One way to guard against
   this is to delete or rename any such headers or stamps prior
   to processing the message.

8. Acknowledgments

   Thanks to Eric Allman, Cyrus Daboo, Ned Freed, Philip Guenther,
   Simon Josefsson, Will Lee, Mark E. Mallet, Chris Markle,
   Randall Schwartz, Nigegl Swinson, Kjetil Torgrim Homme, and
   Rand Wacker for extensive corrections and suggestions.

9. Author's Address

   Jutta Degener
   Sendmail, Inc.
   6425 Christie Ave, 4th Floor
   Emeryville, CA 94608

   Email: jutta(_at_)sendmail(_dot_)com

10. Discussion

   This section will be removed when this document leaves the
   Internet-Draft stage.

   This draft is intended as an extension to the Sieve mail filtering
   language.  Sieve extensions are discussed on the MTA Filters mailing
   list at <ietf-mta-filters(_at_)imc(_dot_)org>.  Subscription  requests can
   be sent to <ietf-mta-filters-request(_at_)imc(_dot_)org> (send an email
   message with the word "subscribe" in the body).

   More information on the mailing list along with a WWW archive of
   back messages is available at <>.

10.1 Changes from the previous version

   Changed the duplicate restrictions from "messages with different
   headers MUST be considered different" to their direct opposite,
   "messages with different headers MUST be considered the same,"
   as requested by workgroup members on the mailing list.

   Expanded mention of header signature schemes to Security

   Added IANA Considerations section.


Appendix A.  References

   [RFC-2822] Resnick, P., "Internet Message Format", RFC 2822, April

   [SIEVE]    Showalter, T.,  "Sieve: A Mail Filtering Language", RFC 3028,
              January 2001.

   [KEYWORDS] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", RFC 2119, March 1997.

Appendix B. Full Copyright Statement

    Copyright (C) The Internet Society 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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    or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
    and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
    kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph
    are included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
    document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
    the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
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    developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
    copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
    followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

    The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
    revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

    This document and the information contained herein is provided on an


--Jutta <jutta(_at_)sendmail(_dot_)com>

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