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message-mode / mail-mode (was: Sending attachments)

From: Teemu Likonen
Subject: message-mode / mail-mode (was: Sending attachments)
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 2009 10:44:18 +0300
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.50 (gnu/linux)

On 2009-07-03 11:37 (+0900), Miles Bader wrote:

> Do you have any technical (UI/interfaces/functionality/code-quality/etc)
> objections to message-mode?  Is the code ugly?  Does it not work well
> with rmail?  Do you not like the name?

You asked Richard but I'll voice my opinion or point anyway. I mostly
use only Gnus and message-mode but there is (at least) one thing in
mail-mode which is not very well supported in message-mode: editing raw
mbox or mail files.

Sometimes I need to edit raw mail/mbox files manually. Similar situation
is composing a mail with a mail user agent like Mutt [1]. In
message-mode there's command M-q (fill-paragraph) which works
differently when cursor is in message's header and when it's on
message's body. There's also C-a which is context sensitive, probably
there are others.

Context-sensitive commands are good but in message-mode they seem to
require that the "--text follows this line--" separator line exists.
This fact pretty much ties message-mode to only Emacs internal mail/news
applications. If header and body is separated only by an empty line
(which is the case with raw mail files) then message-mode's
context-sensitive commands like M-q seem to always operate in "header
mode". This makes M-q quite useless as it indents the second line of a
paragraph with a TAB character.

I wish there was just a simple mode for editing raw mail files. Just
highlighting messages' headers and recognizing ">" as a comment char
would suffice. Functions like sending mail don't make much sense with
raw mail files. Currently mail-mode is a bit better on this area,
perhaps because it's not too clever, I don't know. With Gnus
message-mode is much better.

 1. http://www.mutt.org/

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