Protocol Action: A MIME Content-Type for Directory Information to Proposed Standard

The IESG <> Thu, 20 August 1998 11:39 UTC

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From: The IESG <>
Subject: Protocol Action: A MIME Content-Type for Directory Information to Proposed Standard
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 07:20:06 -0400

The IESG has approved publication of the following two Internet-Drafts
as Proposed Standards:

o A MIME Content-Type for Directory Information

o vCard MIME Directory Profile

These documents are the product of the Access, Searching and Indexing
of Directories Working Group. The IESG contact persons are Patrik
Faltstrom and Keith Moore.

Technical Summary

 The text/directory MIME Content-type is a reusable format for
 representing directory information.  It allows attributes
 (name-value pairs) to be represented in a text format, using
 lines of limited length.  It provides specific formats for
 several attribute types (text, uri, date, boolean, integer, float),
 a means of encoding both binary data and textual data that is
 longer than a single line.  It is intended to be used as an
 format for exchange of directory information, using any of a
 variety of schema.

 The vCard MIME directory profile is a profile of the text/directory
 content type, specifying a particular schema, for a "white pages"
 description of a person.  The schema is derived from X.520 and X.521,
 with several embellishments.  Among other things, this profile is
 intended for use as an "electronic business card".

Working Group Summary

 There was considerable discussion at the beginning of the work in
 this working group regarding the standardization of vCard.
 Consensus eventually supported a two-layer design, with
 the text/directory container format separate from a next-generation
 vCard-compatible profile of text/directory of white pages.

Protocol Quality
 The text/directory format is inherited from the earlier "vCard"
 specifications, which some feel to be a bit awkward.  However,
 it appears to be technically sound, it solves the problem, and
 is probably no worse than other attempts to encode name-value
 pairs, with arbitrary values, as plain text.  The separation of
 the text/directory format from the vCard schema allows the format
 to be reused for other schema, so that we don't have to solve this
 problem over and over again.

 This vCard specification benefits from experience with deployment
 of earlier versions of vCard.

 The definition of the TZ (timezone) encoding for vCard is overly
 simplistic, since many (most?) timezones don't have fixed offsets
 from GMT.  However, it's probably harmless for this application.
 Other profiles can define a different timezone encoding if they
 need to do so.

 Keith Moore reviewed the spec for IESG.