Date: Fri, 18.11.11 23:10
T h e F i d o G a z e t t e! Vol 5 No 18 Toolbox
By Richard Webb, 1:116/901
More about group
For those more interested in this topic a good start is Jack
Decker's tutorial on adding group to a binkleyterm confmail system,
published in Fidonews volume 6 issue 8. Confmail is one of those
products no longer seen in Fidonet, but a lot of the information
contained in that article is germane to using groupmail with your
echomail processor of choice in a binkley style environment.
There are still some assumptions made then which may not be valid
now however. One of the most problematic is that you won't run
with a bad messages area. Many of us who use processes associated
with areafix that automatically link and unlink echoes are not able
to kill off our bad messages areas, because our processes later
toss messages from the bad area to the appropriate echomail area if
received from an uplink given permission to create new areas.
However, since you probably would unpack echomail and netmail
archives before processing groups then those messages would end up
in your bad area, instead of in your netmail area where group would
When giving further study to Jack's discussion of the topic I find
that the best approach may be to have a look at group and its
operation with an eye toward a total rewrite which would resolve
some of the biggest gotchas I've discussed in this and previous
articles. One fix would be to point the group processor at the
bad messages area, which would probably necessitate using *.msg
format for your bad area.
Is it worth the effort? In my opinion it is. Note our editor's
discussion recently of some of the leading lights in Fidonet
development who are active on facebook and their discussion of
adding such capabilities as message threading, offline reader
capability and all this other stuff we take for granted here in
Fidonet. Adding a modern group capability would give these folks
just what they seek, no seen-by lines needed, and none of the
drawbacks as seen from a forum moderator's point of view that are
inherent in echomail. In other words, filter that twit before the
flame war starts, and not after it's a full blown conflagration and
you have to do the dreaded feed cut shuffle. For those web forum
users who don't like the interface, web forum moderators could
steer those users to systems offering telnet, web or even nntp
access to their forum. They get the "we don't do java" and "we
want our threading and offline capability" users they want, Fido
gets valuable forums.
So, if you're looking for a coding project that would offer some
real potential to Fidonet, and you're looking for a challenge have
a look at Jack Decker's articles pointed to above in the Fidonews,
find somebody who has group from system enhancement associates
still in their file base, download it, and have a look. I'd be
willing to bet money that the thing isn't y2k friendly either.
Again let's look at some of the things I've discussed previously
that really need an update.
First and foremost, nobody uses arc as their archiver of choice
these days, and if they do, chances are good they've got pkpak.
Group was hard coded to use the SEA product, of course.
Few know what a config.dog is either, sure, it's just a text file,
but that might need to be changed.
For some folks such as myself there is no areas.bbs either. Squish
which I use doesn't require one. It will read it if your bbs
package of choice uses it, but Maximus uses msgarea.ctl, and the
formats are quite different.
The other stumbling block for binkd systems is no file update
request mechanism, but with binkd's mailbox subdirectory system
this can easily be worked around with a bit of batch or other
scripting magic. When your link gets his mail that group bundle
for a given area is nuked after the session, as you get more group
bundles in new bundles are created for downlinks, and placed in his
mailbox, or pointers to them in the usual way.
Again, if you're looking for a challenge, grab an archive of
groupmail, (be sure you've got the product created by System
Enhancement Associates) and read Jack Decker's fidonews article
referenced above, then start hacking. You never know, you might
just provide a real spark of life for ol' Fido here.
Fidonet groupmail specs can be found by referencing
Fidonet's technical standards from the old days: fsc-0036,
often available as FSC-0036.ZIP, by Dale Lovell.
FIDOGAZETTE Vol 5 No 18 Page 5 November 15th, 2011
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