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RE: MIME to Draft Standard
> Background: I have some experience with writing a MIME-compliant mailer,
> and have experimented with all the MIME features. I have found no major
> problems with any of the body-part or body-type elements, but have found
> richtext to be nearly useless as specified, especially concerning the
> processing model and the semantics of the language.
This is interesting feedback to have; thanks for providing it. However, it
isn't specific enough to make it possible for us to fix the problems that have
led you to this conclusion about richtext. If any of these problems have been
found subsequent to your earlier posting on richtext, please be more specific
and enumerate them so we'll be able to consider them for the next draft.
> My misgivings about richtext have been documented in a lengthy draft of a
> comparison document between richtext and SGML. The persistent lack of
> response from the MIME authors on some of the quite substantial criticisms
> that I put forth therein clearly indicate (especially with the emotional
> response to any criticism on the list with the response "don't delay MIME")
You persist in categorizing what was essentially a procedural decision as one
that ignored your input on emotional grounds. I'm sorry to have to point this
out once again, but this characterization was dead wrong both then and now. Not
only was the basis of the decision entirely procedural, the decision was not
and never has one one where we ignored your input. We simply were forced to
defer consideration of the issues you raised. We're now ready, and willing, to
You have no way of knowing how we handled the various issues you raised because
you have not seen any documents that reflect consideration of these issues.
Once you see this document you can of course criticize whatever was done, and
we'll deal with that as it comes.
However, you most definitely _did_ receive a response; we quite clearly told
you that these issues had to be deferred. We never said the issues you raised
were invalid or that we were going to ignore them. In fact, the exact opposite
is true -- at least one or two points were acknowledged to be valid items in
need of correction.
The decision to defer consideration of these matters was ours to make, it was
supported by the working group, the IESG, and IAB, and can in no way, shape, or
form be considered a lack of response.
> that richtext has not been adequately discussed, nor that has it seen wide
> implementation outside of very small groups that have little experience
> with document description and processing languages. It should be noted
> that richtext has not been well received in circles with such experience.
It does not follow from this that richtext is badly designed, unsound, or
requires changing in any way, shape or form. This simply says that one group, a
small group at that, has voiced some concerns about richtext.
Rather than parading credentials around, why not wait until the revised
richtext document appears so you can see both how your earlier objections were
handled? If there are other problems that have been discussed by other people
in other groups, then by all means provide that information as well. The more
> Some have noted that the specification and the relationship to SGML in
> particular smacks of "not invented here", and the arguments against SGML on
> the list from the authors have been lightyears off mark and only served to
> quell any criticism.
I frankly don't understand what this means at all. richtext was intentionally
changed to make it compatible with an SGML subset. As far as I know this is
still a goal.
> I would, as before, appreciate if MIME contained a mechanism such as
> richtext to transfer more than "flat" text, but not richtext as specified.
> There have been many important steps taken in this direction in the
> International Standards arena, as well as in the de facto standards market.
> I am, for natural reasons, inclined towards International Standards and the
> Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) in particular. I have
> previously proposed that we define an SGML application (as per ISO 8879),
> using several application conventions to restrict the richness of SGML to
> make the resulting application a relatively simple to implement.
I have absolutely no problem with this at all, except that from my perspective
the DTD that results cannot be viewed as the only source of information about
the result. In other words, while a DTD may satisfy the SGML community insofar
as specifications go, it totally fails to meet the needs of most implementors
in the Internet community. As such a DTD must be accompanied by a reasonable
explanation of the resulting format that's formalized in manner that's
consistent with RFCs. Which one is the primary specification doesn't matter
> I have received nothing but positive (private) responses on this, but only
> handwaving from the authors of MIME.
I suppose I should resent this, but I won't bother with that now. If this is
your characterization of our response that "this will have to wait until MIME
is up for draft standard, at which time your comments will receive full
consideration", then so be it.
There are limited number of places where input is allowed into the progession
of a RFC along the standards track. Everyone, including the authors, has to
wait until these points are reached. If anything, the limitations are
particularly galling to authors, since we're in the best position to know about
every wart and deficiency that has been uncovered. And our names are on the
> I'm in position to provide the
> Internet community with a conforming SGML parser that adheres to these
> conventions in at least C, C++ and (emacs/common) lisp, which will reduce
> the pain of implementation well below the noticeable.
Good for you! I'm not sure what this has to to with this discussion, but I'm
sure that these tools will be most welcome.
> Sorry for the somewhat bitter tone, but I am disgusted with the reception
> that criticism to richtext has received
Since your criticism has not been considered yet, for reasons that were and
continue to be good ones, I don't know why you're disgusted about anything.
> and I want to get it out of MIME
> and handled seriously in a different context so that it can be a good
> thing, instead of an appendage grudgingly accepted because it's there. I
> am also quite disappointed (to avoid the vulgar term I would have used)
> with the authors of MIME for telling me "oh, great, let's get back to this"
> and then avoid the issue.
I'm sorry you were disappointed. We did what we did for reasons that we thought
were good, and this decision was subsequently confirmed by the entire process.
In any case, this is all old news. MIME is coming up to draft standard, the
richtext facilities will most likely move to a new document, they will be
substantially reviewed and revised, and your concerns will be addressed now.
Can we move this discussion to the present?