Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(February 1997)
 

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Subject: Re: MailList Specification Headers Proposal 0.0.9
From: james @ frutiger . staffs . ac . uk (James Berriman)
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 11:26:27 +0000
To: list-header @ arpp . carleton . ca, list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM

Brad Knowles <brad @
 his .
 com> wrote:

>        And there's nothing stopping you from implementing a new type of
>message (either manual or machine-generated) using the same syntax as
>is used in the new MIME bodypart type, but which is left all by
>itself without MIME encapsulation/encoding.
>
>        In fact, you're better of specifying this first, and then saying
>"okay, you take a message of type Slarty Bartfast and you encapsulate
>it in MIME by making the Content-type "application/SMMP, etc...".

Yes, that's almost exactly what I had in mind when I suggested that we come
up with a separate syntax description file which could be retrieved via a
url in the list header or included as an attachment. I suspect that the
most flexible long-term approach is a minimal set of standard list headers,
combined with a new MIME type.

BTW, shouldn't that be Slartibartfast? If the answer is "42", perhaps the
Ultimate Question to Life, the Universe and Everything is: "How many
headers were included in God's final message to his creation?".

Just for those who did not see the discussion on listmom-talk (apologies
for the bandwidth if you did):

>Date: Fri, 10 Jan 1997 01:54:20 +0000
>From: james @
 frutiger .
 staffs .
 ac .
 uk (James Berriman)
>Subject: Re: MailList Specification Headers Proposal
>To: listmom-talk @
 skyweyr .
 com
>Mime-Version: 1.0
>Precedence: Bulk
>Reply-To: listmom-talk @
 skyweyr .
 com
>
>I like the idea that Grant Neufeld put forward, but I feel personally that
>the specification of list syntax would be better removed to a separate
>document. Provided that the list header allows such a document to be
>automatically retrieved by the mail client, this should be more efficient.
>
>A few thoughts:
>
>To handle a mailing list the MTA needs to know:
>
>1. The canonical name or unique ID for the list.
>   (i.e. a unique string that does not change, even if the list address does).
>2. How to retrieve the admin address and command syntax by mail.
>   (e.g. mailto:listserver @
 my .
 domain?subject=commands)
>3. The date (UTC) that the above information last changed.
>4. A TTL value (seconds).
>
>All clients would need to understand 1 & 2 (a minimal implementation could
>get by with just this). So two X-headers would suffice. Something like:
>
>X-List: AutoShare-Talk, <mailto:autoshare @
 frutiger .
 staffs .
 ac .
 uk?body=LDD>
>X-TTL: Thu, 9 Jan 97 16:09:05 -0000, 1209600
>
>The document returned should specify all the admin. information required
>to perform basic list management, in a standardised format (Grant has made
>a good start here with the syntax definitions). For the sake of argument,
>call it a Listserver Definition Document (LDD).
>
>This would make life very easy. If you change hosts or rename the server,
>upgrade or change your software, savvy client software can detect this
>from the last modification date in the X-header and automatically retrieve
>the new LDD.
>
>In most cases the client software will only have to retrieve a new copy of
>the file when the ttl expires (thus saving considerable bandwidth).
>
>For security reasons, I believe it would be necessary for the mailto:
>domain in the X-header to match the domain of the admin address(es)
>specified in the LDD.
>
>What do people think?
>
>( :-])  James

>Date: Fri, 10 Jan 1997 10:11:54 +0000
>From: james @
 frutiger .
 staffs .
 ac .
 uk (James Berriman)
>Subject: Re: MailList Specification Headers Proposal
>To: listmom-talk @
 skyweyr .
 com
>Mime-Version: 1.0
>Precedence: Bulk
>Reply-To: listmom-talk @
 skyweyr .
 com
>
[snip]
>
>One of the advantages of having a separate Listserver Syntax Description is
>that you would have the flexibility to deploy it in several ways (after
>all, it's only a string of text!).
>
>There would be nothing to stop you including this information as an
>attachment when you send out subscription confirmations (so the client can
>immediately act on it).
>
>Does this answer your need?
>
>If not, it would still be possible for you to include this information with
>every outgoing message, while leaving other admins with the *option* to
>save the bandwidth.
>
>Likewise, with a stand-alone text format you could include the LDD as meta
>information in a web page, allowing the browser to automatically handle
>list management with no need to build web forms.
>
>Or how about a browser plug-in that just archives LDD files for you as you
>surf the web and presents a unified interface to all your lists? LDDs could
>be unobtrusively updated in the background while you are browsing.
>
>Whatever the outcome of this discussion, I think it would be immensely
>useful to have a standardised machine-and-human readable syntax description
>standard for listservers.
>
>As long as you have a syntax description that the client can unambiguously
>understand, you're most of the way there :-)
>
>( :-]) James



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