[neomutt-devel] eight default flags - one for marks

Sven Guckes neomutt-lists at guckes.net
Tue Dec 6 04:37:46 CET 2016

flags indicate valuable information about messages.
these should not be hidden, but displayed fully.
a default list of eight characters is highly useful.
and an additional five flags can show the main
crypto info and the number of attachments.

* Richard Russon <rich at flatcap.org> [2016-12-06 02:27]:
> > such a list of flags takes up a lot of space - 12 chars!
> > however, i am quite unhappy that some flags take the
> > position of other flags and thus "hide" information. :-/
> Which order do the flags appear?

  on/off:  5 *!DNr | *      tag - for use with tag-prefix,
                   | X      mark, eg '[a-zA-Z0-9!]',
                   | d/D    to-be-deleted,
                   | N/O/-  new-old-read,
                   | r      has been replied to.
  header:  4 FTCL  | F      from myself
                   | tT     t: me on To: | T: only to me
                   | cC     c: me on Cc: | C: only to me
                   | L      via any known list
  crypto:  3 eSK   | e=encrypted [s=signed S=good_sig] K=contains_key
  attach:  1       | number of attachments/parts [1-9]. maybe "1" shown as "-".

the first five flags may keep changing.
the "tag" (*) is used for operations with
following command through tag-prefix (;).

in this suggestion the "mark" *includes* the exclamation mark
which so far has been used for "important" messages.
so it simply becomes a special case of "marks".
(keeping it as a special add another flag, of course.)

the command flag-message then simply chooses
the "mark" to become an "!". nothing lost here.
those messages are indicated with "X-Status: F".
another line could be used for marks, eg "X-Marks: x".
it could later also be used to hold multiple marks.
the 'D' flag shows whether the next update
shall move this message into a trash folder or
actually deletes/purges them away completely.

a 'd' is shown when only parts of the message
are to be deleted, ie removable attachments.
(attachments are not removale when there is
 a crypto-signature around them, of course.)

the N/O shows new/old messages where
"new" means "new since mutt has opened this folder" and
"old" means "still unread".
(many users dont seem to know this.)

the 'r' for "replied" can also be taken away again.
so that's why it is grouped here, too.  it's at the
end because it comes alphabetically after 'D' and 'N'.

the following 8 flags for messages are *fixed* -
unless the user edits the message, of course.
they indicate properties of the message itself.

the header indication for the address lines (To+Cc)
could also reflect whether all addresses belong
to the user and are thus "personal" with a 'p'.

we could use 'p' to reflect the limit pattern "~p".
and we might use flag 'P'  to reflect pattern "~P".


    flags   header lines
    P       From: me at me@home
    p       To:   me at work, me at project
    p       Cc:   me at home

the crypto flags are about the contents in the message body.
the flag 'e' indicates encrypted data, and 's' is for a signature.
the 's' changes to an 'S' once the signature has been verified.
and 'K' indicates the presense of an included key. 3 flags here.

the last one is an indicator to the number of attachments,
so it is zero (or a '-'), 1 up to 9 (and maybe A-Z above).
the limit pattern "~X min-max" catches those nicely.

so.. altogether: 13 flags.

> Do the flags appear in fixed columns (or left justified)?

a fixed width is good to show them in columns.
however, all the flags makes it 12 chars wide.

> Is the order configurable?

a configurability of order is always desired
as it allows for the subset the user wants.
this asks for more code and documentation.

> Which flags override which others?
> Are the overrides configurable?

overriding flags always create problems
because some information may be missing.
making this configurables, however,
makes it harder for some users as well.

> How can the letters be translated for other languages?

adaptation to other languages is always problematic,
different letters, words and meanings everywhere.
it either means hard-code changes all over the place
or a lot more options and specific explanations.

but.. we have ignored this in the last
two decades now, anyway, haven't we? ;)

some people dont use crypto at all
and wont care about the crypto flags.
and maybe do want to the number
of attachments, either.
the index_format can indicate whether
the message is from myself, too.
so it might be dropped as well.

but i'd choose the first eight flags (*!DNTCLr)
as they are really useful.  here is why:

the '*' should be visible because you must see
these for your next command on tagged messages.

the 'D' must be shows - otherwise you might
miss this on the next sync/purge/update.

the '!' for your messages is useful
because you can select these by "~F".

the 'N' tells you about new mails.
this has always been important. :)

"TCL" - most people dont see whether messages
are for just for them or others as well.
so these flags are highly useful -
especially when operating in groups.

and i suppose the 'r' flag, telling them whether
they have already replied, is very useful, too.
no need to look for replies in various folders.

so this is how the default would look:

  index flags    date  from/to         subject
  12345 *!DNTCLr Dec05 To NEOMUTT-LIST Marks in folder index

you might see the '!' still as "important"
as you are used to.  however, it also adds
this as a nice way to introduce "marks".
you can assign these as various levels
of importance as well as projects. :-)

and when you limit your folder to a pattern like
"~D ~N ~l" then you can these in the flags, too.



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