IMAP4 Compatibility with IMAP2 and IMAP2bis (RFC1732)
Original Publication Date: 1994-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-12
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
This is a summary of hints and recommendations to enable an IMAP4 implementation to interoperate with implementations that conform to earlier specifications. None of these hints and recommendations are required by the IMAP4 specification; implementors must decide for themselves whether they want their implementation to fail if it encounters old software.
Network Working Group M. Crispin
Request for Comments: 1732 University of Washington
Category: Informational December 1994
IMAP4 COMPATIBILITY WITH IMAP2 AND IMAP2BIS
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of
this memo is unlimited.
This is a summary of hints and recommendations to enable an IMAP4
implementation to interoperate with implementations that conform to
earlier specifications. None of these hints and recommendations are
required by the IMAP4 specification; implementors must decide for
themselves whether they want their implementation to fail if it
encounters old software.
IMAP4 has been designed to be upwards compatible with earlier
specifications. For the most part, IMAP4 facilities that were not in
earlier specifications should be invisible to clients unless the
client asks for the facility.
In some cases, older servers may support some of the capabilities
listed as being "new in IMAP4" as experimental extensions to the
IMAP2 protocol described in RFC 1176.
This information may not be complete; it reflects current knowledge
of server and client implementations as well as "folklore" acquired
in the evolution of the protocol.
IMAP4 client interoperability with old servers
In general, a client should be able to discover whether an IMAP2
server supports a facility by trial-and-error; if an attempt to use a
facility generates a BAD response, the client can assume that the
server does not support the facility.
A quick way to check whether a server implementation supports the
IMAP4 specification is to try the CAPABILITY command. An OK response
that includes the IMAP4 capability value indicates a server that
supports IMAP4; a BAD response or one without the IMAP4 capability
value indicates an older server.
The following is a list of facilities that are only in IMAP4, and
suggestions for how new clients might interoperate with old servers:
A BAD response to this command indicates that the server
implements IMAP2 (or IMAP2bis) and not IMAP4.
Use the LOGIN command.
LSUB and LIST commands
Try the RFC 1176 FIND command.
* in a sequence
Use the number of messages in the mailbox from the EXISTS
SEARCH extensions (character set, additional criteria)