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[Nmh-workers] Responding to calendar requests

From: Ken Hornstein
Subject: [Nmh-workers] Responding to calendar requests
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2013 10:42:48 -0400

At $REALJOB today, I got a calendar request via email for some training
I have to do, and I was requested to respond to the calendar request so
they could easily track who was coming.

I guess my shame had reached a point where I felt that simply replying
saying my MUA couldn't handle that wasn't quite reasonable, so I looked
at how hard it would be to actually handle that.  It turns out that
stuff is reasonably documented in RFCs (see RFC 5545 and RFC 5546 for
starters), and I was able to hand-construct a text/calendar reply message
that I think did the right thing (I haven't actually heard back yet
to see if it worked).  nmh helped here in that I was able to create a
mhbuild directive that had the right magic in it.

But this got me thinking ... how hard would this be to handle natively?
It turns out that it's not hard to handle the right bits; seems like
a Perl program could handle that (there is iCal::Parser).  But that brings
up a related question: how exactly would that work?

It seems to me that putting "native" text/calendar handling in the core
of nmh is wrong; that seems like something that should be handled by
an external script/program.  I think most everyone would agree with that.
But exactly what would that look like?  If we get a text/calendar object,
do we convert that to "plain text" to display to the user?  Okay, that's
not so hard; I think we can do that today without any changes to nmh.
But to me the interesting part is when you want to reply to that message
saying "accept" or "decline".  How does the user do that?  Do they have
some wrapper to repl?  I've always viewed wrappers to programs like
repl as working around deficiencies.  Maybe an alternate replyfilter
that knows how parse a text/calendar and output a response?  Okay, but
how does a user pass down arguments to say "accept" or "decline"?
That gets into larger meta-questions about how much nmh should do out
of the box versus requiring user configuration.

I don't know the right answers here, but I'm interested in hearing
what people think.


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