Re: UTF-7 is dead

From: Alain LaBont\i\ (
Date: Wed May 26 1999 - 18:27:28 EDT

A 10:58 99-05-26 -0700, Mark H. David a écrit :
>At 11:30 AM -0500 5/26/99, Pete Resnick (Qualcomm, Eudora) wrote:

>>>Meanwhile, a very important mail client was just released with MIME
>>>encoding OFF by default: Outlook Express 5.0. I have recommended to
>>>persons at Microsoft that they have it default to ON.

>>What does it mean to have MIME encoding off by default? If you send
>>non-US-ASCII characters, how do you know which character set encoding
>>is being used? If you send styled text, how is it marked up?

>Right, I was talking about the plain text mail settings. You can
>have no MIME encoding, quoted-printable, or base-64. The no-MIME-encoding
>choice is the default. This is orthogonal to the character
>set encoding, which the user has to choose separately to decide how
>non-US-ASCII characters are encoded (above the MIME level if any).

I have problems with this.

Many people (I have remarked this on several occasions) confuse MIME and QP
or MIME and BASE64 (even some software pieces confuse them even if they are
not synonymous). QP is a horror which should never have existed (that is
the non-usually-English speaker who speaks (; ), but MIME is always
essential for any encoding. BASE64 is quite useful to encode anything not
recognizable in any way when printed (binary data), of course.

What is a flaw in MIME though, imho, is the lack of external MIME tag for
non-7-bit headers (it causes harm that tags be within, say, the title [or
"From" or "To" field], and that it only works for 7-bit QP encoding).

I made suggestions to several software makers that they should assume that
the encoding of non-7-bit headers be assumed to be the same as the first
text charset identified in a multi-part MIME message but I was qualified of
being heretic by some very respected colleagues, because it would
jeopardize the current goal to have the assumption be made that any 8-bit
encoding in headers be that of UTF-8 in the future (given the asbence of

I persist to believe that, if one can't assume that headers use the same
encoding as the text message that follows (everybody knows, of course, that
the user changes encodings constantly (; ), that:

1) MIME tags should exist to announce headers' encoding;
2) these tags should not be embedded in header's "text".

Sorry if I still look heretic.

Alain LaBonté

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