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Apply mathematical or set operations to email addresses

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000198584D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-10
Document File: 2 page(s) / 81K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a system for applying simple mathematical operations to email addresses directly within the "To" field of an email client. The system allows users to express the target list of addressees in a relatively simple manner, without having to resort to the use of heavyweight mail merge or address query facilities. A common use case scenario is where a user wishes to email everyone in a department except for one particular person.

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Apply mathematical or set operations to email addresses

Background

When someone is about to leave a department, or a surprise event is being planned for them, it is common to email everyone in the department apart from that person to tell them about the event and to organise a leaving gift or card. Usually there will be a group user name which maps to the individual email addresses of everyone in the group. But it is not currently possible to have the semantic equivalent of "Email everyone in group X except this person". Instead users are expected to determine the email addresses of all the users in the group and then omit the address of the person of interest. Alternatively, users have to find some other, smaller group identifiers which exclude the person concerned. Both of these approaches can be tedious and time consuming.

    Some existing software products, especially those that offer a mail merge feature, provide advanced query facilities which can be used to find and filter email addresses. But these advanced find features typically involve multiple dialogs or wizards, an approach which is arguably too heavyweight for sending simple emails on an ad hoc basis. The same applies to rules-based workflow engines which may happen to process email messages.

    What is needed is a simple way of sending emails using simple expressions typed directly within the "To" field of an email message itself.

Solution

    The idea is to be able to apply mathematical and/or set operations to email addresses to allow users to email the addresses that result from applying the operation. Then a user could easily email everyone who is in department X except person P.

    One way to implement this would be simply to map each group name to the set of addresses it contains and then apply set theory to the resultant sets of addresses to obtain the result.

Consider these imaginary user groups:
Group G1 - comprises people A, B, C, D, E (where A, B, C, etc., are email addresses)

Group G2 - comprises people D, E, F

    Since the local part of an email address (the part before the @ symbol) allows certain characters (most notably ! + & - / *

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                              { | }), the notation used to denote the operations must restrict itself to characters that are not permitted in the local part. For example, "G1-D" is a valid local part of an em...