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Re: [Nmh-workers] 78 column limit

From: Ken Hornstein
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] 78 column limit
Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2012 14:01:55 -0500

>I send text/plain with lines no longer than 72 and blank lines between
>paragraphs.  I've not had complaints of jaggedness but it certainly
>wouldn't adjust to fit the width of the recipient's window.  The
>long-lined emails you're receiving may say in the MIME-headers that the
>text is to be `flowed', i.e. re-formatted to fit the viewer's display;
>I'm not sure which part of nmh can handle that, mhl through mhshow?

So, let me speak a bit on that.

The canonical standard here is RFC 3676.  That explains how to deal with
format=flowed.  According to that standard EVEN WITH format=flowed you're
supposed to send <78 columns (the whole point is that "older" email
clients, e.g. nmh :-), will be able to display them without issues).

Now what I've seen is many times email clients will used quoted-printable
encoding and send paragraphs as one line, but they'll still break at 76
columns using the = at the end of the line (which means do a soft
line break).  So it's a "long" line but it's not that way on the wire.
I think in practice quoted-printable means you're doing reflowing.

I will note that exmh seems to automatically reflow all long lines so
that seems like a reasonable default behavior.

Now, who's RESPONSIBLE for handling that in nmh?  Well, good question.

Most of the formatting "smarts" is in mhl.  Looking at the mhl man page
shows a bunch of quaint options that seem appropriate for people on
ADM3A terminals, like "bell" or "uppercase".  So mhl is kinda behind
the times.  Also, all it knows about is components, and specifically a
"body" component.

mhshow is slightly better .... it shows the headers first (with mhl)
then it handles each part seperately.  It doesn't handle reflowing, but
it occurs to me that it wouldn't be hard to add.  The big problem I
always have with mhshow is that it seperates the headers from the body
when displying it, but perhaps that could be easily cureable.


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