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Re: [Nmh-workers] What are and what should be the qualifications for a c

From: Ken Hornstein
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] What are and what should be the qualifications for a current nmh user
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:48:50 -0500

Wow, Norm, I was literally in the middle of typing a reply to David's
earlier email which contained some meta-discussion about long term
thinking ... and then your message came in.  How did you know I was in
"nmh mode" right now?

>>I've thought about the nmh target audience ... I guess my thinking is the
>>ideal nmh user be programmers who want a flexible MUA that can make use of
>>many of the features of the Unix command line.
>Have your ambitions changed in the intervening six months? Specifically, do
>you believe that nmh is now a "flexible MUA" for a user who does not know MIME
>and does not have access to somebody who knows both nmh and MIME. Or that such
>a MUA is even possible, in 2014?

Weeelll .... let's hedge things a bit.  I think we're getting there.

The core idea of MH still has power; the problem is that it treats messages
as "headers" and "text".  The problem is that's no longer the reality.  The
original idea, where you can use shell commands to process messages, still
works.  It's just that messages aren't text anymore (and even the messages
that are only text are more complicated).

So we need to figure out how to better handle messages that aren't text;
I think we're slowly getting there.

Now, as for needing to know about MIME ... well, depends.  What do you
mean by "knowing MIME"?  I think at this point most people know that
messages have "text", and can have "attachments".  We do okay with that
model; we can be a lot better, but it's at least "okay".  Do people that
know about attachments mean they know about MIME?  Sort of ... I mean,
that's MIME, but people don't know it's called that.  I don't think
most people know anything about base64, but you don't really need to
know about it to use nmh either (at least, I sure hope not).  Do you need
to know the difference between multipart/mixed and multipart/alternative?
No, MUAs just figure that out for you, and mostly we do okay with that
in nmh as well.

I think we can still do better, and I think there's a way forward.  So,
summary answers to your questions are:

- I believe nmh is a flexible MUA, but not as flexible as it should be.

- I believe one can use the default configuration on most modern systems
  and the right thing will happen in a lot of the most common cases.

- I believe you don't need to know MIME at any detailed level to make
  use of nmh.

- I believe that nmh can be a full-featured MIME MUA, but it's not there yet.

>>I'd still like a user be able to walk up to a nmh installation and the basic
>>commands be useful without any configuration, though.
>But is such a user better off wih nmh or with some GUI based MUA?

Well, I don't know how to define "better off" in this case.  If they're
not the kind of person comfortable at the command line, then nmh probably
isn't the right tool for them.


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