Mail addresses as URLs

Tim Berners-Lee <>
Date: Tue, 11 May 93 12:02:01 +0100
From: Tim Berners-Lee <>
Message-id: <>
To:, uri@
Subject: Mail addresses as URLs

This is not the first time a mail address has been suggested as a URL
and I think it is so useful that it should go in.

It IS the first time that mail header fields have been suggested as  
part of the URL.  I am not so sure about that one -- it would have to
be well defined.

I like the idea of the mail address, as I can see a sophisticated  
browser not just opening a mail send window, but representing the
mail endpoint with for example a list of mail messages which the guy  
has written.  Creating a link between
a document and the "person" would mail the document to the person,
just as creating a link between a document and a newsgroup would
post the document, etc..

In this case the additional fields in the URL would rather confuse
things, as they wouldn't in fact define a more specific mail  
location, they would be more of a template or a script.  I would
prefer to see that sort of thing handled properly with forms in HMML.

What to you URI folks think of this? The simplest form is
to specify


where the LHS is a regular Internet mail address.

* This would nicely integrate mail address servers, as a form for  
returning mail address info

* The To: and From: fields of messages would be treatable
as hypertext links, just as the Newsgroup: and Reference: fields
are now.

* A link type <LINK REL="AUTHOR" HREF=""> would be
 a formal way of attributing responsability.

* etc etc

I think this would be pretty neat, really useful, not too much sweat.
What do you think?

<A HREF="">Tim</A>

Peter's original message was to www-talk, I enclose it for those
only on the uri list. 

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: Automatic reply in HTML
Date: Tue, 11 May 93 10:33:30 BST
From: "Peter Lister, Cranfield Computer Centre"  

This functionality was suggested by a colleague; it sounds good to  

We would like to publish our prospectus in HTML. At the back of the
printed copies of the prospectus, ther are details of how to contact
Cranfield by post or email for further information on particular  

In the HTML version, it would be nice to have a URL like

<a HREF=" \nAddress:  
\nref: \n">Send an enquiry</a>

This would have the effect that when the anchor is activated, clients
display a window (initialised with the optional text following the  
When finished, the user confirms the contents, and the client sends a
mail message to the address shown.

This URL equates to a paper reply-paid card; it is an invitation to
reply automatically with no hassle or need to use local resources. A
more general form of this URL might well include telnet or any other
remote service which requires may need initial information. If
variables can be used, then one could include the sender's details in
the initial text.

It occurs to me that code already exists to do this in Xmosaic, as
Whine (or Mail Developers as it is now). If you fancy adding a new  
type that kicks off the whine code, Marc, that would be a very nice  

Peter Lister                            
Computer Centre,
Cranfield Institute of Technology,        Voice: +44 234 754200 ext  
Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL England    Fax: +44 234 750875