Predraft of a new URL scheme: mailmsg

Paul Hoffman (
Mon, 2 Jan 1995 16:48:28 -0800

Message-Id: <ab2e4e020e0210037793@[]>
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 16:48:28 -0800
From: (Paul Hoffman)
Subject: Predraft of a new URL scheme: mailmsg

In the URL spec, RFC1738, the "mailto" scheme is defined and is described as:

     Unlike many URLs, the mailto scheme does not represent a data
     object to be accessed directly; there is no sense in which it designates
     an object.

However, there are many resources on the Internet that can only be accessed
by mail that cannot be described by the mailto scheme. To access such an
object, the mail message must have a specified subject and/or content. For
instance, many mail response servers will return a file if you send a mail
message with the proper request.

I propose a new scheme, "mailmsg". A "mailmsg" URL takes the form:


This is obviously quite similar to the "mailto" scheme but allows URLs that
can retrieve files.

For example, a URL for a mail response system that requires the name of the
file in the subject would be:


A mail response system that requires a "send" request in the content might
have a URL that looks like:

< current-issue/>

The "mailmsg" scheme would also help people get another type of Internet
resource, namely mailing lists. For example:

< bamboo-l>

I believe that implementing the "mailmsg" scheme in various Internet
clients will be trivial for anyone who has already implemented "mailto".

A few notes:

- I avoided using the "mailserver" name talked about here in July of 1994
because it had a different purpose and syntax. The "mailserver" name is
mentioned in section 4 of RFC1738 as a quasi-reserved name due to its
earlier discussion. If people here agree that "mailserver" as discussed
then is dead (it never went beyond a proposal and some rambling
discussion), I'd certainly be willing to rename my proposed scheme as
"mailserver" to reuse that name.

- I also avoided the syntax of that earlier "mailserver" because it opened
too many cans of worms about header lines and such. I think a simple
address/subject/content mechanism will work for 99% of the useful mail

- I'll put together a formal Internet draft of the proposal (with the
obligatory BNF) after a few days of discussion about this "predraft". If
RFC1738 gets updated in the next year or two, the draft and associated
comments can be folded into it if people here agree that that would be a
Good Thing.

--Paul Hoffman
--Proper Publishing