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December 22, 2002

Email - no tiers

With the mass awareness about the importance of separating content from presentation, how come no one is up in arms about the fact that email doesn't have this? Email- the Internet app we rely on most- is missing this fundamentally important piece. When I reply to an email, my email client actually modifies the content of message to indicate quoted text. Outrageous! That is to say, content, metadata, and presentation are not separated in the domain of email.

Come to think of it, it would probably be useful to have a business logic layer, also, for the administration of an email conversation. This would allow you to do things like "ignore person", "invite person", "take a poll", "rename thread" and I'm just scratching the surface here.

As pervasive as it is, I don't think that email, as we know it today, is long for the world.

Posted by tbailen at December 22, 2002 04:55 PM

Two things. One, the separation of content from presentation is generally only referred to on the backend, ie for programmers. As in having separate data, business and presentation layers. On the frontend, what the users see, they are usually entangled. Witness HTML. Granted you can get around that in various ways, eg CSS + XML, or XML + XSLT, but nobody does.

Thing #2: They are (sort of) separated, depending on your email format. If you're using HTML email you could have different replies be in different colors. In fact, Outlook will do that automatically, even to the point of having each separate reply be in a different color from all the others.

Of course, if you're using plain text email then there is no way to separate content from presentation, because there is nothing but content there.

I've gotta say I disagree with you about email not being long for this world. It's one of the relatively few major "hits" on the internet, up there with HTTP. Ironically, these two protocols which are probably the most used were both just hacked together as a side project by someone with better things to do.

Posted by: Brian on January 9, 2003 02:06 PM

Hey, Timmy's starting to get random surfers! Congratulations Tim!

Now if only you could get random surfers that make intelligent comments....

Posted by: BKR on January 30, 2004 04:54 PM
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