W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > ietf-discuss@w3.org > May 2001

Re: Intelligence in standards-based software

From: Scott Lawrence <slawrence@virata.com>
Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 14:50:58 -0400
Message-ID: <3AF1A892.9050603@virata.com>
To: Jacob Palme <jpalme@dsv.su.se>
CC: discuss@apps.ietf.org
Jacob Palme wrote:


> The problem is that if I send a message in the format
> "multipart/alternative" with different languages in the
> different body parts, then most major mailers will
> only show the recipient one of the body parts, not
> selected based on the language preferences of the
> recipient, and will not even tell the recipient that
> there are other body parts.

The "will not even tell the recipient" seems to me to be the real 
problem.

I've recently come to the opinion that transparency in electronic 
document formats and viewers is critically important to wider 
acceptance of them in (non-geek) society.  One of the very real 
differences between a paper document and an electronic one is that 
with the paper document you can, when using the normal viewing mode 
(looking at it with sufficient ambient light :-), see everything 
that is in the document; with an electronic document you normally 
see some rendering onto a display - even the author may not be aware 
of everything that is actually contained in the document.  All 
document viewing applications should provide a choice of viewing 
modes, one of which should always be to display the lowest level 
possible encoding (view source in an html browser being a good 
example).

To your original point - why shouldn't the MUA provide an indication 
that alternatives are available, a display of the Content-* values 
for each alternative, and allow manual override of the selection? 
Your problem disappears, and so does the problem of dealing with 
difference attributes that were not anticipated when the program was 
writtten.

-- 
Scott Lawrence      Architect            slawrence@virata.com
Virata       Embedded Web Technology    http://www.emweb.com/
Received on Thursday, 3 May 2001 14:52:06 GMT

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