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January 27, 1998

VENDORS PROPOSE MAKING MULTI-THREADED EMAILS SIMPLER

By CBR Staff Writer

A proposal from Lotus Development Corp, Microsoft Corp and Qualcomm Inc to enable readers of email to track properties of text from various sources in a single email message has been submitted to, and acknowledged by, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The acknowledgement is not any form of endorsement, but it does mean the specification will go through one or more of the W3C’s working groups – either the HTML or meta-data work areas in this case. The specification deals with how a combination of HTML threading and eXtensible Markup Language (XML) can be used to provide data about a messages author, rearrange segments of the message in chronological or hierarchical order or display text from each author in a different way. Anybody who has tried to read long messages being sent back and forth between groups of people will know how useful this could be. The proposal uses standard HTML 4.0, in particular its Cite attribute to associate properties to text. Microsoft says it will include the technology in future releases of its Outlook messaging client; Lotus plans to use it in future releases of Notes and Qualcomm already includes basic support in its recently-announced Eudora 4.0 client. In a separate submission to the W3C, Microsoft, teamed with ArborText Inc, DataChannel and Inso Corp has submitted extensions to XML to describe schemas for XML documents and a way of extending XML elements. Schemas are rules, including element names, in which elements can appear in combination and in which attributes are available for the elements. The second part of the proposal enables developers to extend schemas with information on such things as inheritance, data types and presentation rules.

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