REST Questions

Lisa Dusseault
Thu, 30 Aug 2001 21:46:20 -0700

> Is anyone working on this? e.g. "Conventions for using HTTP in Email
> Clients". "Conventions for using HTTP for mail transfer".

I've done some thinking about this, as have many others, independently, like
Joe Orton.  WebDAV is nicely suited for mailbox access (IMAP/POP3
 - mailbox is a DAV collection; each mail is a DAV resource
 - other folders are likewise DAV collections
 - GET to download a mail
 - metadata (date sent, date received, read/unread): use PROPFIND/PROPPATCH
 - POST or PUT to "outbox" on server to send mail
 - MOVE, COPY, DELETE work the way you'd expect
 - DASL is quite nice to find unread, to find new mail, to sort by date
received, etc.

One of the slightly tricky things is that email clients expect the email
headers to be inside the document, whereas WebDAV model is that metadata
like that is more useful "outside" the document (so that a view of a folder
can be sorted, etc.).

Another slightly tricky thing is to let the client know when it has new mail
because polling doesn't cut it in many email situations.

I'd point out Exchange 2000 supports email access mostly using WebDAV; it
has some documentation to this effect.

SMTP may be even easier to replace, but there's less reason to IMHO.