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Safari | Python Developer's Handbook -> MIME Parsing and Manipulation





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MIME Parsing and Manipulation

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is a standard for sending multipart multimedia data through Internet mail. This standard exposes mechanisms for specifying and describing the format of Internet message bodies.

A MIME-encoded message looks similar to the following:

					
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;  boundary="====_238659232=="
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 18:30:23 -0400
From: Andre Lessa <alessa@lessaworld.com>
To: Renata Lessa <rlessa@lessaworld.com>
Subject: Python Book

====_238659232==
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Sorry Honey, I am late for dinner. I am still writing Chapter 13. Meanwhile,
take a look at the following Cooking material that you've asked me to find in
the Internet.

====_238659232==
Content-Type: application/msword;  name="cookmasters.doc"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: attachment, filename=" cookmasters.doc"

GgjEPgkwIr4G29m1Lawr7GgjEPgkwIr4G29m14tifkAb3qPgGgjEPgkwIr4G29m1La29m14tifkAb
3qPgGgjEPgkwIr4G29m1Law29m14tifkAb3qPgGgjEPgkwIr4G29m1Lawr629m14tifkAb3qPgIr4
G29m1Lawr2GgjEPgkwIr4G29m1Lawr29m14tifkAb3qPg29m14tifkAb3qPgGgjEPgkwIr4G29m1L
awr8Ab3qPgGgjEPgkwIr4G29m1GgjEPgkwIr4G29m1Lawr7GgjEPgkwIr4G29m1Hawr0==
====_238659232==
				

Note that the message is broken into parts, and each part is delimited by a boundary. The boundary itself works like a separator, and its value is defined in the first line of the message, right next to the first content-type.

Every part starts with a boundary mark, and then it is followed by a set of RFC822 headers telling you what is the content-type and the encoding format of the data for that part, and next, separated by a blank line, we have the data itself.

Check out the last line of the message. Do you see the trailing after the boundary? That's how the message identifies the final boundary.

The next couple of modules are tools for mail and news message processing that use MIME messages. For more information, check out

RFC 1521

http://info.internet.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc/files/rfc1521.txt

rfc822

The rfc822 module parses mail headers that are defined by the Internet standard RFC 822. This standard specifies the syntax for text messages that are sent among computer users, within the framework of electronic mail. These headers are used in a number of contexts including mail handling and in the HTTP protocol. For more information, check out

Internet standardsStandard for ARPA Internet Text Messages

http://info.internet.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc/files/rfc822.txt

This module defines a class, Message, which represents a collection of email headers. It is used in various contexts, usually to read such headers from a file. This module also defines a helper class AddressList for parsing RFC822 addresses. A dictionary-like object represents the Message object, where the message headers are the dictionary keys.

mimetools

The mimetools module provides utility tools for parsing and manipulation of MIME multipart and encoded messages. This module contains a special dictionary-like object called Message that collects some information about MIME encoded messages. mime-version,content-type,charset,to,date,from, and subject are some examples of dictionary keys that the object possesses. This module also implements some utility functions. The choose_boundary() function creates a unique boundary string.

The next two functions encode and decode file objects based on the encoding format, which can be "quoted-printable", "base64", or "uuencode".

  • decode(inputfileobject, outputfileobject, encoding)

  • encode(inputfileobject, outputfileobject, encoding)

The functions copyliteral(input, output) and copybinary(input, output) read the input file (until EOF) and write them to the output file object. Note that the objects must be opened.

Take a look at the message = mimetools.Message(fileobject) function. This function returns a Message object derived from the rfc822.Message class. Therefore, it supports all the methods supported by rfc822.Message, plus the following ones:

message.gettype() Returns the type/subtype from the content-type header. The default value is text/plain.

message.getencoding() Returns the message encoding method. The default value is 7bit.

message.getplist() Returns the list of parameters from the content-type header.

message.getmaintype() Returns the main type of the content-type header. The default value is text.

message.getsubtype() Returns the subtype of the content-type header. The default value is plain.

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