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From: Jim Whitehead (
Date: Tue Mar 14 2000 - 10:19:05 PST

Hi Ernie,

> He mentioned how Microsoft was using WebDAV as an alternative to POP/IMAP.

Yep, just sniff the packets between Outlook Express 5 and Hotmail.

We've finally come full circle. In 1968, Doug Engelbart demoed the NLS
system at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. NLS provided
email, outline processing, document editing, and the ability to hyperlink
between them. Email and documents were treated in almost identical ways.
In NLS it was not, go to the email program for email, go to the documents
program for documents. It was a fully integrated environment. Now,
finally, by using the same protocol to access email and documents, we're
starting to move back towards a more holistic view of information
processing. Theoretically it didn't require a new protocol, but since POP
and IMAP have led to programs specifically for email, it was helpful to
introduce a new protocol that really blurs the distinction between email and
all other documents.

The same is true for Calendar data. I can see very little benefit to
defining a specific protocol just for use with calendar data, such as the
current Calendar Access Protocol (CAP) effort. Every new MIME type does not
need a new protocol. It makes sense to have hypertext links between
calendars, and email, and Web pages, and spreadsheets, etc., and using a
single protocol to access and author all of these makes this more clear.
You could have a separate protocol for each MIME type, but what's the point?
Unless there is a compelling advantage, it is just a huge duplication of

> We thought it
> would be really cool to document some standard way of structuring mail
> messages as WebDAV properties, so everyone could do this. And we could
> maybe even get Microsoft involved, too.

I would be very interested in seeing a standard developed here.

> Do you know of anyone who'd be interested in coordinating something like
> this?

Not off the top of my head. Undoubtedly Microsoft would want to get
involved to ensure the final design was close to what they have shipped.
Probably the best thing to do would be to form a mailing list, hold one or
two face to face meetings, and then organize a BOF session at an upcoming
IETF meeting.

Such a BOF meeting would unleash a firestorm. There is very strong
sentiment in the IETF for having specific protocols for accessing mail
stores. POP and IMAP have strong followers, and there are many in the IETF
who feel that each domain should have a separate protocol, that one size
does not fit all. Still, I think it is a path worth taking.

- Jim

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