[Smaug] CR/LF, wordwrap, newline & ASCII

Karsten Wade phig at phig.org
Sun, 16 Jun 2002 01:28:32 -0700 (PDT)


On Fri, 14 Jun 2002, Paul Thomas wrote:

> Well that is what I'm trying to determine, that these hard-breaks
> are inserted by the Mac Eudora, or, if my GNU text pagers/editors
> are sticking them in there. 

Skipping all the other reasons given so far to prove that it was the
Mac/Eudora combination that put those EOL characters there, I want to
point back to the comment about Mac users in a Usenet world.

In my experience, GUI editors (especially including Webmail types such as
mail.yahoo.com) will do a forced line break at a fixed number of
characters or less.  IOW, if the setting for a maximum line length is 77
characters, then at 77 characters or less, the MUA will force a line
break.  However, this line break is happening _after_ you edit and send
the message.  While you are in edit mode, you get softwrap within the
editing window.  Once you send the message, the line breaks are inserted.

I believe that the mail client software authors are attempting to play
nice with an 80 character width world.

This experience is entirely trial and error.  I haven't actually saved the
messages to plain ASCII and seen if/when there are control characters.
But I do know that e.g. Outlook has a default line break at 76 characters,
so when you see those lines in a message that includes seveal levels of
reply characters (">"), the line will break at a specific point.

E.g.:

1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456
1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456

becomes

> > 123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012
3456
> > 123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012
3456

The fact that this can happen visually within Mac/Eudora with a message
sent and replied to only within instances of Mac/Eudora is a simple proof.

Have you friend try this experiment: write a piece of email with two or
three paragraphs of several sentences and lines each; email that to
himself, then reply with comments; reply several times; note how there are
line breaks.

This test assumes that his Eudora is set to use some kind of standard
original message marker (">") and not just leave the lines untouched.

- k'

'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`
 Karsten  Wade           "As sharp as the leading
 karsten@phig.org        edge of a ball bearing."
 http://phig.org/gpg/              - Dallas Dobro