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Is SMTP really part of the Web Architecture?

From: Elliotte Rusty Harold <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 10:05:17 -0400
Message-Id: <p04330100b9a2548c3897@[192.168.254.4]>
To: www-tag@w3.org

SEction 1 of the arch draft states:

Protocols. A small and nonexclusive set of protocol specifications 
for interchanging information between agents, including HTTP 
[RFC2616], SMTP, and others. Several of these protocols share a 
reliance on the Internet Media Type (or, "MIME") the 
metadata/packaging system [RFC2046].

I am not sure SMTP properly belongs here for a number of reasons:

1. SMTP significantly predates the rest of what we call the Web.

2. The W3C has little to no involvement with SMTP. Instead, that's 
under the influence of the IETF (and rightly so).

3. SMTP is a very different protocol from what we normally think of 
as the Web. It is not at all like HTTP, FTP, or gopher. SMTP sends 
and receives messages between particular individuals where as HTTP, 
FTP, etc. place documents on servers for retrieval by anonymous 
people. (Yes, this a very broad cut, that ignores details like 
mailing lists) but at the broadest level they are different.)

4. HTTP appears to users as a client-server system. SMTP appears to 
users as a peer-to-peer system (actual architecture details not 
withstanding).

Consequently, I am suspicious that principles designed for good HTTP/ 
FTP/etc.  may be actively harmful to good SMTP (and vice versa). I do 
not think this document should attempt to prescribe architecture for 
SMTP in particular or e-mail in general. It's just too different.

Note that the same arguments apply to NNTP and Usenet news. FTP and 
gopher, by contrast, though not traditionally W3C protocols, are at 
least similar enough in structure to HTTP to justify being included. 
HTTPS obviously can be included.
-- 

+-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+
| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
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|          XML in a  Nutshell, 2nd Edition (O'Reilly, 2002)          |
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Received on Monday, 9 September 2002 10:09:48 GMT

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