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sendmail.net: Extending IMAP

Apr 27, 2000, 19:51 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Cameron Laird)

"What could IMAP do that it doesn't do now? To find out, we spoke with Pete Resnick of Qualcomm, Inc., who lives not far from the University of Illinois campus where Steve Dorner wrote the original Eudora program in 1988. Resnick is chairman of the IETF's IMAP extensions working group (IMAPEXT), charged with publishing standards for several specific IMAP extensions. When we spoke, he had just returned from the most recent IETF meeting in Adelaide, Australia."

"List mechanisms help broker client requests along the following lines: "Show me a list of the ten most recent messages I've received from sender x, sorted by date, with subject lines and sizes." Many applications, including some POP-based mail user agents (MUAs), already make such calculations. Once IMAPEXT has defined a good standard for this, though, the calculations can move from the client to the server. This has two major advantages:

  • It moves much of the computational load off the client - a good thing in a world where that client might be a power-constrained mobile phone.
  • It slashes the bandwidth requirement. List mechanisms allow the server to send only summary results, rather than sending all the data needed to calculate the results."
"The "neatest" IMAPEXT topic, in Resnick's view, is message-level annotation. This is a standard for communicating information like "Keep a copy of this message, but mark it for redirection to a third party" or "From now on, display everything from this particular mailing list in blue."

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