GROUP MAIL SPECIFICATIONS
                             by Dale W. Lovell

Group Message Files

A Group  Message File is  a file which  contains messages for  a particular
group conference. The file is named as follows:


     <id> is the GroupMail ID name
     xxx  is the minute of the month that  the last packet was added to the
          file in base  36 (0..9,A..Z).  The following  extensions are  NOT
          used ARC, BAT,  COM, DOC, EXE, PKT,  TXT. If a packet  is created
          would normally have this name,  the minute is "bumped up" one  to
          avoid using  these names.  (This is  also the  extension used  by

Each file can contain several packets of messages. Packets should be in the
Fido type 2  packet. The packets start  off with a packet  header. Messages
follow  the  packet header.  Each message  starts  off with  an abbreviated
packetized message header. Following the header are several variable length
fields. The structures is as follows:

     struct pkthdrs {              /* packet header structure */
          int ph_onode;            /* Originating node number */
          int ph_dnode;            /* Destination node number */
          int ph_yr,ph_mo,ph_dy;   /* Date packet was assembled */
          int ph_hr,ph_mn,ph_sec;  /* Time packet was assembled */
          int ph_rate;             /* packet baud rate */
          int ph_ver;              /* packet version */
          int ph_onet;             /* Originating net */
          int ph_dnet;             /* destination net */
          int ph_rsvd[17];         /* Reserved for possible future use */

     struct pktmsgs {              /* packetized message headers */
          int pm_ver;              /* message version */
          int pm_onode;            /* Originating node */
          int pm_dnode;            /* Destination node */
          int pm_onet;             /* Originating net */
          int pm_dnet;             /* Destination net */
          int pm_attr;             /* Message attributes */
          int pm_cost;             /* message cost in cents */

The variable length data that follows is:
     Field Description             Maximum length (in characters)
          Date                          20
          To whom                       36
          Who From                      36
          Subject                       72
          Message text                  8192

The packet is finished when in place of the packetized message header there
are two null characters.

Message Attributes

Message  headers  contain an  integer  field holding  "message attributes."
These are bit  values that select various  properties of the  message. They
are defined as follows:

     #define MSGPRIVATE  0x0001    /* Private message */
     #define MSGCRASH    0x0002    /* Crash priority message */
     #define MSGREAD     0x0004    /* Read by addressee */
     #define MSGSENT     0x0008    /* Sent okay */
     #define MSGFILE     0x0010    /* file attached */
     #define MSGFWD      0x0020    /* being forwarded */
     #define MSGORPHAN   0x0040    /* Unknown destination */
     #define MSGKILL     0x0080    /* Kill after mailing */
     #define MSGLOCAL    0x0100    /* True if message entered here */
     #define MSGHOLD     0x0200    /* true if hold for pickup */
     #define MSGX2       0x0400    /* reserved -- sent */
     #define MSGFREQ     0x0800    /* Requesting a file */
     #define MSGRREQ     0x1000    /* Return Receipt requested */
     #define MSGRRCT     0x2000    /* Return Receipt */
     #define MSGAREQ     0x4000    /* Request audit trail */
     #define MSGUREQ     0x8000    /* Requesting a file update */

The following attribute bits are included in the packetized message header.


All other attributes are masked off and are not sent to other systems.

Packet files names are as follows:


     dd   is the day of the month the packet was created
     hh   is the hour (24 hour clock) the packet was created
     mm   is the minute the packet was created
     ss   is the second the packet was created

For example if a GroupMail file in the conference SAMPLE is  created on the
22nd of a month at 08:15 the Groupmail name would be SAMPLE.NPR.

          21 full days                  8.25 hours
     x  1440 minutes per day       x      60 minutes per hour
     -------                       ---------
       30240 minutes                     495 minutes
     +   495 minutes in today
       30735 minutes into the month     Convert to base 36: NPR

Note that at most there are 44640 minutes in a month and this naming scheme
has the capability  to handle up to  46656 file names. The  remaining names
(2015 files or an average of 65 files per day) may be used for distributing
other files in a conference (anything over YG0, hint if it starts with Z it
makes it easy  to identify, still leaves 1296 different files or average of
41 files per day).

Disk Directories

GroupMail  uses two  special directories for  distributing it's  files. The
first of  these directories contains  what I will  be calling a  group date
file  and any unprocessed,  inbound group files.  The Group Date  File is a
zero length file in the format:


     <id> is the Group conference name

When new files  are update requested, the  mailer should only obtain  those
files whose time/date stamps are later than this file's time/date stamp (or
any unprocessed group files with a later time/date stamp).

This directory will be referred to as the Group Inbound Directory.

If a  system is holding  any conferences for  others to update  request, it
will need another directory. This directory  holds all processed Group Mail
Files.  These files  can be  held for  up to  31 days.  After a  file whose
conference is  being held for  others is processed,  it should be  moved to
this directory. This  move MUST leave the  time/date stamp as it  was. If a
system deviates this for ANY reason WOE unto they who wrote  the Group Mail
processor.  This  directory  will  be  referred  to as  the  Group  Holding

Message files

In theory  (and  almost always  in practice)  you can  store the  processed
messages in  any format  you desire.  New messages  must be  put into  your
network mail area as a message your mailer can handle and send  properly to
other Fido compatible  bulletin board systems/mailers.  The structure of  a
Fido message is as follows:

     struct msghdrs {              /* Message header structure */
          char m_from[36];         /* Who from */
          char m_to[36];           /* to whom */
          char m_subj[72];         /* subject of message */
          char m_date[20];         /* Date of message */
          int  m_times;            /* Number of times read */
          int  m_dnode;            /* Destination node */
          int  m_onode;            /* Originating node */
          int  m_cost;             /* Cost of message in cents */
          int  m_onet;             /* Originating net */
          int  m_dnet;             /* Destination net */
          int  m_caca;             /* extra space */
          int  unsigned m_rep;     /* Thread to previous */
          int  m_attr;             /* Message attributes */
          int  m_up;               /* Thread to next */

The header is followed by the text of the message. This text is stored as a
string of characters ending  with a null. The  text may or may  not contain
carriage returns, each  of which may or may not be  followed by a linefeed.
Any of  these carriage returns may be "soft."  If the high order bit (0x80)
of the carriage  return is set,  then it is a  soft return. Line  feeds and
soft returns should be ignored.

More on the actual messages later on.

Processing inbound messages

For conferences where you are NOT the top star

Unprocessed  Group  Message Files  are in  the  Group Inbound  Directory. A
processor should go through  all Group Message Files which  are conferences
that the  system actually caries  (as opposed to  just passing  through for
other  systems). The  file's name  should  be used  to determine  for which
conference  these messages  are  destined. While  most processors  have the
first line  of text  read as  ^AAREA:<id> (no  spaces), this  is meant  for
compatibility to those systems which do not yet have GROUP capabilities. In
packets should  be extracted from the archived  message file, put into your
message  base. The packet files  should then be  deleted. Messages put into
your message base from these Group  Message Files should be marked in  some
way so  that they are not processed as  newly entered messages. SEA's GROUP
utility uses the  message sent flag for  this purpose and we  recommend the
use of the same flag wherever possible.

After  all Group  Message Files have  been processed, the  Group Date Files
should have their time/date stamp changed  to that of the most recent  file
processed. Any Group  Message Files  for conferences being  held for  other
systems should be moved to the Group Holding Directory so other systems can
request these files.  When the Group  Message File is moved,  the time/date
stamp on the file MUST NOT be changed. Group Message Files  for conferences
not being held for others should be deleted.

It is also desirable  at this time to delete any Group  Message Files which
are over one month old, or whatever period of time  less than one month the
system operator of that board desires.

For conferences where you ARE the top star

You  should check for  any new netmail  messages whose  ^AAREA:<id> line is
"your" conference ID. These  messages should be imported into  your message
base with  the message sent  flag (or your  own equivalent) turned  OFF. At
such a time as you "PACK" new Group Message Files you should turn the  sent
flag ON. 

Processing new outbound messages

For conferences where you ARE NOT the top star

Your  group  processor should  scan through  all  group conferences  on the
system and  locate any  messages which  have been  entered. These  messages
should be prepared to be sent  out via network mail. The first line  of the
network mail message should read:


     <id> is the Group conference name

There should be no spaces in  this area, although your processor should  be
tolerant of any spaces if they are present.

The message should be "from" your address and addressed to your upward link
in  the  conference. In  addition  the  message  should  be  marked  to  be
deleted/killed after being sent.

You should also  check to  see if any  messages in  your netmail area  from
other systems are for a GroupMail conference (either one you carry, or pass
on to other systems). Any of  these messages should be readdressed to  your
upward link in the conference. Under no circumstances should you change the
from fields, they should contain the address  of the person who entered the
message into the conference.

For conferences where you ARE the top star

Messages should  be "copied" from your  message base into a  properly named
Group Message File. This  Group Message File must have a  correct time/date
stamp and  be in  your Group  Holding Directory.  Once a  message has  been
copied into a  Group Message File, it is  necessary to mark it  so the same
message is not placed into another Group Message File. SEA's GROUP uses the
message sent flag  for this purpose and  we recommend the  use of the  same
flag whenever possible.

I think that's it.  Everything else is handled by your  mailer. In order to
get new  Group Mail  messages, you do  a file  update request of  the GROUP
conference name (<id>.*)  with the  update pointing to  your Group  Inbound
Directory. Your mailer  will then get any new Group Message Files from your
upward link in  the conference. As new  Group Message Files are  processed,
those who are obtaining their conferences from you will perform file update
requests from your Group Holding Directory.