Re: attachment names and "Message Not Available"

1998-09-16 18:08:58
On Sun, 6 Sep 1998, Marcos A. Souza wrote:

Is there a way to make mhonarc parsing attachments not based in the
content-type, but in the file extension?!?

We probably shouldn't get into this sort of argument that I am
about to bring us into, but ...

The MIME standards are the way they are for a very good reason.  Until
recently, most documents on the internet with the extension .doc were
formatated ASCII text files.  Different systems have different conventions
about extensions and files names.  The internet is about getting different
systems to work together.

The MIME header standard is well designed.  It splits the responsibility
of dealing with different sorts of files in a correct way.

The sender of the document (or the software working on the sender's
behalf) such as an email client or a webserver has the responsibility of
saying what the content type of the document is.  Only the sender has
that information.  Whether that information comes from file extentions
or by magic (that is a technical term) is up to the sending system.  We
want this to work not just for the systems that exist today, but for
systems that we haven't dreamt of which may not even have file names
at all.  The sending system has the responsibility to tell me the content
type, and not just pass me the name.  If you get a .doc file from me, it
is probably a text/plain.

The other side is that the recipient decides what to do with a file.
The sender might correctly tell me that a document is application/pdf,
but it is up to me (or agents acting on my behalf) to decide whether
I want to run ghostview, xpdf, or acrobat or whatever to process that
Transmitting file names is an extra little add-on for MIME.  It should
never be the mechanism for transmitting Content-type.  (Actually, in
the case of application/octet-steam, one might make a case for
recipient clients guessing based on extenstion, but that should
NEVER be relayed on, or assumed by sending systems.)


Jeffrey Goldberg                +44 (0)1234 750 111 x 2826
 Cranfield Computer Centre      FAX         751 814
Relativism is the triumph of authority over truth, convention over justice.

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