Re: UTF-7 is dead

From: Patrik Fältström (
Date: Wed May 26 1999 - 19:55:34 EDT

At 15.21 -0700 1999-05-26, Alain wrote:
>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

When "inventing" the MIME stuff years ago, we at KTH in Sweden did
have a proposal like this.

Several proposals like this has been discussed over and over again.

But, they have all been rejected because the MIME standard is
designed to be able to be parsed in one turn only. I.e. information
about character set used in a header have to come before the header
itself in the stream of bytes. That together with the fact that any
intermediate MTA can change the order of headers makes it just
impossible to have a suggestion like yours, and at the same time
keeping the requirement to be able to parse a message in one pass

When all mailers in the world can handle the 8BITMIME ESMTP
extension, then we have something which is as good as we can get with
the SMTP we have today. I.e. then we can use
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit all over the place, and more or less
only use MIME for specification of _what_ is in the mail.

Headers are still a problem you say....not fun....


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