NOTE: This charter is accurate as of the 30th IETF Meeting in Toronto. It may now be out-of-date. (Consider this a "snapshot" of the working group from that meeting.) Up-to-date charters for all active working groups can be found elsewhere in this Web server.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) Charter


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Description of Working Group

The Interactive Mail Access Protocol (IMAP) Working Group is chartered to refine and extend the current IMAP2 protocol as a candidate standard for a client-server Internet e-mail protocol to manipulate remote mailboxes as if they were local. An explicit objective is to retain compatibility with the growing installed base of IMAP2-compliant software. It is expected that the resulting specification will replace both RFC 1176 and the more recent (as yet unplublished) IMAP2bis extensions document.

The IMAP Working Group will also investigate how to provide for ``disconnected operation'' capabilities similar to the DMSP protocol (RFC 1056, with Informational status) with a goal of making it possible for IMAP to replace DMSP.

An e-mail access protocol provides a uniform, operating system-independent way of manipulating message data (e-mail or bulletin board) on a remote message store (repository). Mail user agents implementing such a protocol can provide individuals with a consistent view of the message store, regardless of what type of computer they are using, and regardless of where they are connected in the network. Multiple concurrent sessions accessing a single remote mailbox, and single sessions accessing multiple remote mailboxes, are both possible with this approach.

This differs from POP3 (RFC 1225) in that POP is a store-and-forward transport protocol that allows an MUA to retrieve pending mail from a mail drop (where it is then usually deleted automatically), whereas IMAP is focused on remote mailbox manipulation rather than transport. IMAP differs from various vendor-specific remote access approaches in that IMAP is an open protocol designed to scale well and accommodate diverse types of client operating systems.

Security-related tasks include how to incorporate secure authentication mechanisms when establishing a session, and possible interactions with Privacy Enhanced Mail.

It is expected that most of the work of this group will be conducted via e-mail. A goal is to integrate and update RFC 1176 and the existing IMAP2bis draft, then submit the result as an Internet-Draft well before the November 1993 IETF meeting, which would then focus on detailed review of the text in preparation for submission as a Proposed Standard before the end of 1993.

Goals and Milestones

Post an Internet-Draft of the revised IMAP 2 protocol.
Hold an interim working meeting at UW or CMU.
Hold a working group meeting to review the IMAP document.
Hold a working group meeting at the November IETF meeting.
Submit the IMAP protocol to the IESG for consideration as a Proposed Standard.

NOTE: The Internet-Draft(s) listed below may have been deleted since they are only good for six months.