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You are reading about af, an advanced, self-documenting, customisable, real-time display-oriented mail reader and composer. If you think that sounds rather like the Emacs editor, you're correct; af is designed to follow the Emacs paradigm as closely as possible.
We say that af is display-oriented because normally the messages being read are visible on the screen and are updated automatically as you type your commands. See section Display.
We call it a real-time mail reader because the display is updated very frequently, usually after each character or pair of characters you type. This minimises the amount of information you must keep in your head as you process your mail. See section 5. Basic af Commands.
We call af advanced because it provides facilities that go beyond simple reading of messages: viewing multiple mail folders at once, searching and sorting mailboxes, and dealing with groups of messages in one operation.
Similarly, we have tried to take care that af complies with any relevant standards: it conforms closely to RFC822, the Internet Standard for Mail Messages, and will work with such standard Mail Transfer Agents as UUCP, sendmail, and MMDF; and supports the POP3 protocol for reading mail from a remote server. Af also has good support for reading MIME mail, and limited support for composingl MIME mail, although this is still being improved. (1).
Self-documenting means that help about af is available from within af itself. You can find out what any command does, or find all the commands that are relevant to a topic. See section 10. Help.
Customisable means that you can change the definitions of af commands in little ways. For example, if you prefer to include the text of the original message into the text of a reply to that message, then you can tell af to do so. Another sort of customisation is rearrangement of the command set. For example, if you prefer the four basic cursor motion commands (up, down, left and right) on keys in a diamond pattern on the keyboard, you can rebind the keys that way. See section 21. Customisation.
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