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Re: RMAIL, MIME-related bug

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: RMAIL, MIME-related bug
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 13:03:25 +0000 (UTC)

   Juri Linkov <address@hidden> writes:
   > I see one solution to these problems - to export entire mbox to the
   > file system, i.e. to save MIME parts to separate files, ....

   > Note that this don't contradict the decision to store messages in mbox
   > in their undecoded form.  ....

It is useful to use the terms `deep representation' and `surface
expressions' to distinguish between the various formats.

Think of the mbox as the `deep representation' of the set of messages.
Much of it is readable using `find-file-literally' as it should be.
But various `surface expressions' make reading the file easier, and
decode images or base64 encoded material as needed.  `Surface
expressions' can be cached -- that can be an option.

And, of course,  a particular  `surface expression', such as a Babyl
file format, can be a  `deep representation' for further processing,
such as one to show an image.

In any event, a `surface expression' may be suited to audio, using
Emacspeak, or suited to rmail, or gnus, or...

This method is similar to Kenichi Handa's proposal, excepting that he
speaks of a `view buffer', which is a good phrase but does not
persuade programmers to think of the blind.  

(Emacspeak may well use a `view buffer' -- and not deal with images in
it.  The idea is to apply to mbox format the existing way in which
people think about Texinfo, in which the `deep representation', the
Texinfo source, has many `surface expressions', such as Info, DVI,
HTML, PostScript, and plain text.)

The `deep representation/surface expressions' way of thinking goes
against traditional Emacs style:  in that style, the `surface
expression' of a buffer was very closely linked to its `deep
representation'.  The characters you saw on the screen represented the
bytes in the file.

It is vital to keep this ability.  Just yesterday, I had to look at a
mail file using `find-file-literally' to discover what was giving me
trouble.  But mostly, I do not use `find-file-literally' but look at
the `surface expression' produced by rmail.  Obviously, this `surface
expression' is not hugely different from the mail file's `deep
representation', but it is somewhat different.

    Robert J. Chassell                         Rattlesnake Enterprises
    http://www.rattlesnake.com                  GnuPG Key ID: 004B4AC8
    http://www.teak.cc                             address@hidden

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