OFF TOPIC! Was: subject line -- to hide or not to hide
Tue, 8 Feb 2000 22:34:51 -0500
On Tue, Feb 08, 2000 at 02:48:16PM -0500, Alan Shutko (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
> sungod <email@example.com> writes:
> > Once again, this is all purely hypothetical and even a bit
> > oversimplified, but selecting which parts of email documents get
> > treated which ways by which mail agents seems to be a task that the
> > flexible, hierarchical Extensible Markup Language would excel at.
> I see only one functional benefit you would get over using MIME,
> signing and encrypting headers in a natural way. Other than that,
> everything you mentioned can be done _now_. It's just done in a more
> verbose way.
> So, what else would you gain from this?
Document formatting, for one, via technologies already standardized by the W3C (CSS1 and CSS2) and in development with partial implementations in the majority web-browser already (XSL). Also, intelligent indexing and searching and extensibility and many other features which you can read about at <http://www.w3c.org/> and <http://www.xml.com/>.
> You'd suddenly need to add an
> XML parser to every program which touched email.
Well, if my hypothetical "replacement" took place, it would be in place of existing SMTP/POP/IMAP/FutureProtocol header parsers, so not much of a sacrifice. Besides, OS design is getting incrementally better to take advantage of shared libraries:
> And I don't know how
> many OSes come with an XML parsing library,
I'd say at least 90% of computer users have one... Windows 95 with IE5, Windows 98, Windows NT 4 with IE5, and Windows 2000 all have one built in... so does Red Hat linux and (I presume) most other Linux distributions. Commercial Unix OS's certainly have no shortage of parser libraries available; anyone who's installed GNOME has an LGPL'ed parser available already. The only "gray area" I can think of are Mac OS and Mac OS X users, although I would be shocked if the latter were missing an XML parser.
> so you'd end up having
> multiple ones being installed and in memory on any given computer.
> Sounds like a terrible cost if you aren't going to get much out of it.
Yup. Thankfully XML isn't limited only to replacing the ---- ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS ---- lines in email, otherwise it WOULD be a waste. The good news is that most modern OS's DO come with an XML parser, and most of them DO support shared libraries to conserve computing resources.
The problem is not that MIME is broken, or that it's a problem at all; it's just that some of us like to look ahead at what can be done with some newer innovations and think about what "would be possible." The sheer flexibility of XML is enough to grab my attention; if you don't think it's a worthwhile transition, rest easy: without implementers, the idea remains, as I originally contended, "practically impossible."
This thread is now way off topic for the GPG list. Please, all followups to my personal address ONLY. Thanks.
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