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Re: [Nmh-workers] urls from mhpath, and message store abstraction layers

From: Ken Hornstein
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] urls from mhpath, and message store abstraction layers.
Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2012 09:28:28 -0500

>In the IMAP case, you don't want to download the entire message just to
>satisfy an mhpath request. The value in IMAP is its ability to treat
>MIME sections as separate objects. By sucking down entire messages, all
>you've done is downgrade IMAP to POP.

I understand where you're coming from, but I have to ask ... when
people use mhpath to get the path of an MH message, what, exactly,
are they trying to accomplish?  Usually it's something along the
lines of "use some Unix text processing tool on this message".  For
that you need to download the whole thing.  Obviously for something
like "scan" you don't need the whole message (well, depending on
your scan format, you might, or at least some of the beginning of
the message).  I think mhpath isn't part of the "normal" flow of
MH, but if it is for people, I'm interested in how you use it (I
use it, but only occasionally, and my usage is such that I'd need
the whole message).  So if you want to have mhpath return IMAP URLs,
okay, I'm fine with that.  But personally I think that's not as
useful as having mhpath download the whole message.

>Adding this to nmh is doable, but it's not
>something you can design by committee. If we're going to implement a VFS
>abstraction layer, a couple of people need to step up and volunteer to
>design and implement a prototype. This needs working code to shake out
>architecture bugs, and to provide scaffolding to work out the best way
>to expose this to the user commands.

Well, here's where I think we are regarding that:

- Paul suggested what such an API should look like (specifically, he
  said "man 3 db".  He said he'd do some work on designing this API
  if people thought it would be a good idea.

- My judge of the consensus of the list was that it was a good idea;
  okay, there weren't many responses.  I (and maybe a few others) said
  we thought it was a good idea.  No one said they thought it was a
  bad idea.

- That's where things stopped.  I've been busy, so I didn't want to
  bug Paul about it.  I suspect Paul's been busy too, and didn't want
  to work on it until he had a chunk of time free.

- My gut tells me that even thought there is a danger of the "design by
  committee" problem, we should discuss this on nmh-workers.  I think there
  is enough good ideas here that it would be useful to solicit input
  from people.  I could be persuaded otherwise.


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