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TidBITS & Eudora

My main complaint about Steve Dorner’s excellent email program Eudora is that it suffers from the 32K text limit so common to Macintosh programs. This isn’t inherently Eudora’s fault – after all, Steve currently uses TextEdit (a component of the Mac operating system essentially designed to handle minimal text editing in dialog boxes, scrolling lists, and so on) to provide text services, and TextEdit causes the 32K text limit. (Rumor has it that the next version of Eudora, at least the commercial version, will eliminate the 32K limit entirely). Eudora handles this limitation as gracefully as possible, by splitting large messages into multiple chunks, and joining them together seamlessly if you select all of the chunked messages and use Save As from the File menu. Unchecking the Include Headers and Guess Paragraphs checkboxes in the Save dialog ensures that nothing but the original text ends up in the resulting file.

However, it’s still a pain to read long messages by opening two windows, and TidBITS has always fallen into the category of messages that Eudora splits. I asked Steve why TidBITS ends up split, since almost all of our issues are under 32K of text. It turns out that for safety, Steve has Eudora set to chunk files at 24K rather than 32K, but as an example of Eudora’s flexibility, he also provided a simple method of upping that number to the limit. So, if you read TidBITS in Eudora, and would like to receive it in a single message each week, fire up ResEdit and follow along with me.

Eudora uses two settings to determine where to split files, SPLIT_THRESH and FRAGMENT_SIZE. The rule that governs them is that FRAGMENT_SIZE must be smaller than SPLIT_THRESH, which in turn must be smaller than 32000. In my instructions below, I set the variables 100 bytes apart. This will work fine in most cases, but a problem may crop up if you forward or redirect a long message. Since there will be additional header information in the forwarded message, the recipient’s copy of Eudora may split the message, even though it was small enough for a single piece when sent. With really long messages, such as Info-Mac Digests, forwarding may result in odd splitting on the receiving end, since each sent chunk may be split into two pieces when received, doubling the number of chunks received. Thus, it’s probably safer, if you plan to forward large messages such as TidBITS issues, to set the difference between SPLIT_THRESH and FRAGMENT_SIZE to 1,000 bytes, or even 2,000. Of course, if you get too close on the low end to the 30,000 character size that most issues come in at, you’re likely to have them break into one 30,000 character chunk and one 12 character chunk, or some such nonsense. So, I recommend that you try it my way, and if it doesn’t work for some reason, fiddle with the two settings until it works acceptably.

Once you’re in ResEdit, choose New from the File menu to create a new resource file. Name it "TidBITS plug-in" and save it somewhere – it will eventually go in your Eudora Folder.

Then, from the Resource menu, choose Create New Resource, choose "STR " (not STR# – Eudora uses "STR " resources to override the STR# resources in it or its settings file) from the scrolling list, and click the OK button. ResEdit promptly creates a new STR resource, ID 128, and opens the window for editing. The window contains an entry with two text fields, titled "The String" and "Data." In the "The String" field, enter 31800 for the FRAGMENT_SIZE setting, and leave the Data field blank. Once you’ve entered the FRAGMENT_SIZE setting, close the STR ID 128 window. Make sure that resource is selected, and from the Resource menu, choose Get Resource Info. In the Info window, change the ID field from 128 to 6408, and if you wish, enter "FRAGMENT_SIZE" for the name so you’ll know what it is if you ever have to go back.

One down, one to go. With the STR resource window still open, choose Create New Resource from the Resource menu again. ResEdit creates another STR resource ID 128 (since we just renumbered the last one). In the "The String" field, enter the SPLIT_THRESH setting of 31900, and again, leave the Data field blank. Close that window, select STR ID 128, choose Get Resource Info, and change the ID to 7619 and the name, if you wish, to "SPLIT_THRESH". Close that window, close the STR window, and save the file.

Note that if you enter something other than a valid number in the "The String" field, you’ll seriously confuse Eudora and may cause crashes. I know, since that’s what I did the first time I tried this.

One final step. Eudora will only recognize the plug-in if it has the proper creator code, so from the File menu, choose Get Info for TidBITS plug-in (your menu may be slightly different depending on the file name you gave the file). In the window that appears, change the Creator to "CSOm" (without the quotes of course, and that’s a capital O, not a zero). Leave the Type field alone. Close the Info window, saving the changes when prompted, and quit out of ResEdit.

Quit Eudora if it was running, and make sure the TidBITS plug-in is located in the Eudora folder. Launch Eudora again, and from now on, files will be chunked at the new sizes. The next time you receive an issue of TidBITS, it should arrive in one piece, and larger files, like the Info-Mac Digest, will arrive in fewer, larger chunks.

If you’re a ResEdit weenie, or are feeling lazy, you can simply email away for a copy of this plug-in. Just send email to <[email protected]> and my machine will send you a copy. When you get it, debinhex it (if Eudora hasn’t already done that for you for some reason), and pop it in the Eudora folder. Quit and relaunch Eudora and you’re on your way to getting issues of TidBITS intact. Do keep in mind that if for some reason mail to your site has a lot of header information attached to it, issues may grow too large and will still be split.

Like most things relating to Eudora, the plug-in should work equally well on both Eudora 1.5.1, the free version, and Eudora 2.1.1, the latest commercial version.

Information from:
Steve Dorner
Eudora Q&A stack documentation/Eudora_QA.hqx

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