Single API for Email access

Scott Penrose scottp at
Wed Jun 12 20:34:14 CDT 2002

On Thursday, June 13, 2002, at 11:25 , Jeremy Howard wrote:

> Scott Penrose wrote:
>> <...>
>> Does anyone have experience using these. If so, with which ones. There 
>> is Mail::Box, but it does not seem to do IMAP and does not give  you a 
>> list of folders etc. It is more about doing things like MH vs MBox etc.
>> There is also Mail::Folder, but all the work involved around that is 
>> for local mail folders, and only supports a dot lock on the local mail 
>> folder.
> The problem I see is that you're forcing yourself to support the lowest 
> common denominator of functionality this way. POP3 only supports 
> logging in, listing ids, and getting a message (or the 'TOP' of a 
> message). IMAP supports a complex query language for searches, multiple 
> folders in a tree, multiple namespaces, MIME parsing and getting 
> specific MIME parts, instant message notification, pipelined 
> operations, etc.

That is always a problem. The way around that I think is to emulate 
functions where necessary.
For example - the login and location etc should be done as a scalar like 
that of DBI.

Then lets pick a simple example like POP folders and POP writing 
message. It can't do either. So a good starting point for those is to 
have a method in the drivers called ->folders. It returns the list of 
folders, in the case of pop that would be just 'inbox'. For a write IO 
handle you get back undef.

So like that of DBI you try and write for the middle to high ground, and 
return undef for some unsupported methods and have some special driver 
specific methods (eg: DBD::Excel has a list_sheets (I think)).

If you think about how some of the webmail programs do this. There are 
some that support both POP and IMAP servers. They do this by coping with 
the differences all the way through their code. Why not abstract that 
logic so that it can be reused again.

Does this sound insane? interesting?

Scott Penrose
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scottp at

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