Mime - Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension

By: Jesse Miller

MIME is an extension to the RFC 822 framework that is intended to address some of the problems and limitations of the use of SMTP. SMTP is also called as Simple mail transfer protocol.

SMTP cannot transmit executable files or other binary objects. A number of schemes are in use for covering binary files into a text form that can be used by SMTP mail systems, including the popular UNIX Uuencode/Uudecode scheme. However, none of these is a standard or even a de facto standard. SMTP cannot transmit text data that includes a national language characters because these are represented by 8-bit codes with values of 128 decimal or higher, and SMTP is limited to 7-bit ASCII. SMTP servers may reject mail messages over a certain size. SMTP gateways that translate between ASCII and the character code EBCDIC do not use a consistent set of mappings, resulting in translation problems. SMTP gateways to X.400 electronic mail networks cannot handle any textual data included in X.400 messages. Some SMTP implementations do not adhere completely to the SMTP standards defined in RFC 821.

Common problems are Deletion, addition, or reordering of carriage return and linefeed, truncating or wrapping lines longer than 76 characters, removal of trailing white space, padding of lines in a message, conversion of tab characters into multiple space characters.

MIME is intended to resolve these problems in a manner that is compatible with existing RFC 822 implementations. Some of the MIME specification includes the following elements they are five new message header files are defined, which may be included in an RFC 822 header. These fields provide information about the body of the message. A number of content formats are defined, thus standardizing representations that support multimedia electronic mail. Transfer encodings are defined that enable the conversion of any content format into a form that is protected from alteration by the mail system.

The five header files defined in the MIME are MIME-Version, Content type, Content-Transfer-Encoding, Content-ID, and Content-Description. MIME-Version must have the parameter value 1.0. This field indicates that the message conforms to RFCs 2045 and 2046.

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Content-type describes the data contained in the body with sufficient detail that the receiving user agent can pick an appropriate agent or mechanism to represent the data to the user or otherwise deal with the data in an appropriate manner. Simple mail transfer protocol is used by all business for their mails.

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