Friday, 27 April, 2001

Email Standards Documents Get An Overhaul

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)  Network Working Group this week released RFC2821 (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) and RFC2822 (Internet Message Format).  These RFCs obsolete the 20-year-old RFC821 and RFC822, respectively.  RFC2821, according to the Abstract, "is a self-contained specification of the basic protocol for the Internet electronic mail transport. It consolidates, updates and clarifies, but doesn't add new or change existing functionality of the following."  It goes on to list the RFCs that it incorporates.  Similarly, RFC2822 "specifies a syntax for text messages that are sent between computer users, within the framework of 'electronic mail' messages. This standard supersedes the one specified in Request For Comments (RFC) 822, 'Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet Text Messages', updating it to reflect current practice and incorporating incremental changes that were specified in other RFCs."

I'm happy to see consolidation of the multiple SMTP RFCs into a single document.  One of the most difficult parts of understanding current standards is simply locating all of the relevant documents and understanding how they fit together.  Consolidation of this sort makes that task much easier.