Re: [webfinger] [art] Auto-configuring Email Clients via WebFinger

"Paul E. Jones" <> Thu, 18 July 2019 14:12 UTC

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To: Dave Cridland <>
CC: "" <>, "" <>
From: "Paul E. Jones" <>
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Subject: Re: [webfinger] [art] Auto-configuring Email Clients via WebFinger
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RFC 6186 is the DNS-based one to which I referred below. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow setting various configuration options and wouldn't work at all for my wife's use case where employees use different mail servers based on the country in which they reside.


-------- Original Message --------
From: Dave Cridland <>
Sent: July 18, 2019 4:40:41 AM EDT
To: "Paul E. Jones" <>
Cc: "" <>rg>, "" <>
Subject: Re: [art] Auto-configuring Email Clients via WebFinger

Obviously I'd prefer ACAP.

But also, please note the existence of RFC 6186. It's not widely deployed,
but if we were to open this can of worms, and not simply reuse
Thunderbird's autoconfig XML format (which, if I recall, is also supported
by various other Open Source MUAs), then I'd be keen to get SRV up and
running properly.


On Mon, 15 Jul 2019 at 20:31, Paul E. Jones <paulej=> wrote:

> ART folks,
> Several years ago when I was working on WebFinger, one of the use cases I
> presented was using WebFinger to facilitate auto-configuring email
> clients.  It was and still is a problem I deal with today.
> For my own family, I have to manually configure several different clients
> on several different platforms for each member of the family.  It's time
> consuming and really needs to be made simpler.
> My wife also has to deal with this issue where she works, because her
> company, while just 100 or so employees, has offices in two different
> countries and the mail server settings an employee uses depends on his or
> her geographic location.  To use standard IETF protocols, it means a lot of
> manual provisioning.
> I see the same sort of challenges with service providers. If one wants to
> have his or her own domain, but isn't technically savvy, they're in for a
> lot of "fun" trying to figure out the various settings. Seriously, no
> normal person should have to understand what SMTP or IMAP means, and
> definitely what port numbers or security settings to fill in.
> While there has been a generic DNS-based method for email provision for a
> while, it doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for my wife's company,
> either. It also doesn't define everything one might need to define (e.g.,
> required security settings or policies).
> So we put together a very simple example to show how this might be done
> with WebFinger.  See the draft here:
> The example in that document should make it clear how we intend this to
> work, though the detailed procedures and syntax are missing.  We first want
> to see what interest exists and if this general approach will work for
> everyone before getting into too much detail.
> We'd love to have some dialog on this to see how we can address this
> problem of auto-configuring email clients.
> Paul
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