Dreams and aspirations

Inspired by ZOË, and motivated partly by the fact that Mutt is still the best go-anywhere remote mail reader, I’ve been daydreaming about a cross-platform client-server GUI (not web based) java mail program with built in smart indexing and context sensitive threading and dynamic linking.

What have I achieved so far? I’ve got some very simplistic code that scans an mbox file and creates EmailMessage objects.

On the way I discovered that:

  • There appear to be no open source java libraries for parsing mbox mail files.
  • Mozilla starting work on a java email reader, called Grendel in 1997, but it seems to have died. There appears to be a lot of code in CVS, but most of it seems to be pre-java 1.2, and it requires netscape jars which probably aren’t open source.
  • There is apparently no official spec for the mbox format hence…
  • …the implementation varies significantly between applications and platforms. About the only thing you can assume is that each message starts with ‘From ‘ preceded by a blank line or the start of the file.
  • The ‘From ‘ address at the start of each message isn’t necessarily the same as the ‘From:’ header.
  • Jamie Zawinski (ex-Mozillian) has lots of useful and eclectic information on his site.
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