Re: [apps-discuss] Mail client configuration via something, maybe WebFinger

Phillip Hallam-Baker <> Wed, 10 February 2016 21:46 UTC

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Sender: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 21:46:34 +0000 (UTC)
From: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
To: <>, John Levine <>
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Subject: Re: [apps-discuss] Mail client configuration via something, maybe WebFinger
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The complexity of the Netscape protocol from 1997 is only partly due to the complexity of the problem. 
The much bigger problem is the architecture. An email account config is ultimately going to end up in some sort of file/registry setting. And so it is going to be a collection of structured data. 
The way we go about that problem today is to write an XML schema or a description of a JSON structure (which is of course a schema but we don't call it that as it frightens the horses). Then we poke or pull data blobs that contain data structures according to the schema. All the complexity of the problem goes into the schema design. And so do any extensions to meet future needs, proprietary purposes, etc. etc.
The Netscape protocol isn't written that way. The complexity that these days we contain in the schema has escaped into the network protocol which is loosely speaking a mechanism for editing the data structure by sending diffs for each branch.
So, I think it is a distraction and not very helpful.

The Mesh follows the schema approach but with layers of cryptography to protect confidentiality and integrity. There may be common network config elements that should be shared by email and xmpp config for example. In fact I am sure there are or we are doing something wrong.