The Message File

The Message file contains the text of all messages in the folder.

It is a text file with some special formatting requirements:

  • It must use the Linux convention for end-of-line (LF with no CR character)
  • Each message is preceded by a short header containing VA index and threading information
  • The length of each message is contained in the header (as an ASCII decimal number)

Each header consists of a number of LF-terminated lines:

  • A line of 10 ASCII '=' (equals) characters.
  • A text line containing the following fields:
    • the VA foldername, e.g. "comp/lang.c++.moderated"
    • a space
    • The VA message number in the folder preceded by a '#' (hash) sign. and followed by a comma. e.g. "#56,"
    • a space
    • The word "From" followed by the messages sender's name (either a friendly name with any spaces replaced by underscores, or an EMail address), followed by a comma. e.g. "from Bjarne_Stroustrup," or "from,"
    • a space
    • The message length as an ASCII decimal number followed by a space and the word "chars" and a comma. e.g. "34123 chars,"
    • a space
    • The date in some format VA can recognize, such as "Apr 21 20:20 04" or " Thu, 19 Sep 2002 15:50:50 +0100"
  • An optional line showing the parent message number, in the format "Comment to 1234"
  • A line of 10 ASCII '-' (minus) characters

Here's a short section from a real message file:

uk/comp.homebuilt #28188, from Tony_Houghton, 1070 chars, Sun, 1 Jun 2008 14:25:21 +0100
Comment to 28183
From: Tony Houghton <>
Newsgroups: uk.comp.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Belkin Wireless Router
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2008 14:25:21 +0100
Organization: A well-installed InterNetNews site
Lines: 23
Message-ID: <20080601142521.44b0d161@tiber>
References: <484289c4$0$658$>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Trace: 1212327598 83010 (1 Jun 2008 13:39:58 GMT)
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sun, 1 Jun 2008 13:39:58 +0000 (UTC)
X-Newsreader: Claws Mail 3.3.1 (GTK+ 2.12.9; x86_64-pc-linux-gnu)
Xref: uk.comp.homebuilt:129811
X-VA-Origin: Aanews:uk/comp.homebuilt

Only the header of this message was collected
[Mark the message for collection]

uk/comp.homebuilt ...

Each of these lines is terminated with an LF character.

There are exactly 1070 chars between the LF after the line of '-' characters and the first '=' character of the next message.

The last message of the file is indicated by the fact that there is no following line of '=' characters (just a blank line).

devinfo/ffmt_msgbase.txt · Last modified: 06.04.2011 19:01 by daniel
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