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MIME type versus stand-alone format?

  • From: "Costello, Roger L." <costello@mitre.org>
  • To: "xml-dev@lists.xml.org" <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:59:59 +0000

MIME type versus stand-alone format?

Hi Folks,


In Microsoft Outlook you can create "contacts." You can export a contact. The exported contact is formatted as a vCard (virtual card). It contains things like name, address, email, telephone, etc.


The vCard specification had its origins way back in 1996. Since then there have been several versions of the vCard specification. The latest version is vCard 4.0.


The specification for vCard 4.0 has an Appendix which states the differences between 4.0 and the previous versions. In that Appendix it says this:


                vCard is now not only a MIME type

                but a stand-alone format.


What does that mean?


A colleague told me that “MIME is a transport encoding.”


I believe the implication of his statement is that earlier versions of vCard described how to format (encode) vCard data for shipping (transporting) whereas the latest version of vCard describes how to format vCard data for storage on a computer. Yes?


Let’s relate that to XML …


Scenario: you format your data as XML, UTF-8 text for storage in a file. Do you then ship your data in a different format? Have you ever written two different specifications: A “MIME specification” describing how the data is to be formatted when shipped around, and a “storage specification” describing how the data is to be formatted when stored on a computer?




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