Configuration: The Bat
NOTE: I haven't been getting around to updating these "configuration" articles nearly as often as I should. Mail programs and webmail interfaces are constantly coming out with new versions, often radically different from earlier ones, and regrettably, often less compliant with traditional standards and practices of mail formatting with each revision. If this article is out of step with the current version, my apologies; I'll try to update it one of these days.
If you've been looking all over Gotham City for a well-behaved, standards-compliant mail program, follow the signal in the sky to Ritlabs' The Bat. Or just tune in to the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, and same Bat-website. Holy mail-client, Batman!
Configuring The Bat
Fortunately, The Bat is one of the minority of mail programs that produces well-formatted messages by default, requiring no complex trickery of reconfiguration. However, a few configuration choices are offered that affect mail formatting. Some of them are in the Options menu under Editor Preferences:
The main standards-related item here is the checkbox to "Auto-wrap", and the number of characters at which to wrap lines. You're best off leaving this checked and using a number of 79 or less, since otherwise lines will run on longer than the standards suggest (unless you manually hit Enter after each line). The default is to wrap at 70 characters, a conservative number which allows for people replying to you to add quote prefixes and still keep line length within the 79-character limit.
Other options are in the Account menu under Properties. The main things of interest are the "templates", which are used to define many attributes of message format including signature blocks, reply quoting format, and more. The template for new messages looks like this:
The default value of this template has the odd feature of indenting the message body; move the "%Cursor" element to the left margin if you don't want this. The signature block has the standard separator (two dashes and a space) built in; don't change this if you want to stick to network tradition.
The template for replies looks like this:
As you can see, you can specify the relative position of quotes, signature blocks, and the cursor to type in your reply; the default setup is for a well-formatted bottom post, but top posters can set up a template suiting their wishes as well. Bottom-posters might also want to remember to scroll up from the initial cursor position in order to trim excess stuff from the quotes. The "Sender Information" section determines how the quoted material is prefixed; "None" causes the standard ">" prefix to be used, while the other choices cause various things derived from the sender's name to be inserted (the default is the initials). This idea of prefixing the sender's initials to their quoted text was common on FidoNet bulletin board systems back in the '80s, but I haven't seen it in other Internet mail programs so it may look strange to many users.
The Bat will display incoming HTML messages (including attached images, but not remote images from the Web), but will only generate plain text outbound messages, even when you're replying to an HTML message.
Next: The program-by-program configuration instructions continue with Dialog, a news reader that also does e-mail.
This page was first created 10 Oct 2004, and was last modified 10 Oct 2004.