Three transformations are currently defined: identity, the "quoted- printable" encoding, and the "base64" encoding. The domains are "binary", "8bit" and "7bit".
The Content-Transfer-Encoding values "7bit", "8bit", and "binary" all mean that the identity (i.e. NO) encoding transformation has been performed. As such, they serve simply as indicators of the domain of the body data, and provide useful information about the sort of encoding that might be needed for transmission in a given transport system.
In keeping with this: as of MIME-tools 4.x, this class does no modification of its input when encoding; all it does is attempt to detect violations of the 7bit/8bit assertion, and issue a warning (one per message) if any are found.
"7bit data" refers to data that is all represented as relatively short lines with 998 octets or less between CRLF line separation sequences [RFC-821]. No octets with decimal values greater than 127 are allowed and neither are NULs (octets with decimal value 0). CR (decimal value 13) and LF (decimal value 10) octets only occur as part of CRLF line separation sequences.
"8bit data" refers to data that is all represented as relatively short lines with 998 octets or less between CRLF line separation sequences [RFC-821]), but octets with decimal values greater than 127 may be used. As with "7bit data" CR and LF octets only occur as part of CRLF line separation sequences and no NULs are allowed.
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