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Last update: 2004-01-12

End: 2003-01

Mail::Box phase 2, last progress report

software for e-mail handling in Perl

December 5, 2003, Mark Overmeer.

Report on the progress of the Mail::Box phase 2 project in the last weeks of the project. A final report, with an overview of what was achieved during Mail::Box phase 1 and 2, is expected soon.

1. Tasks

The following tasks where described in the project plan of phase 2. For each task, the final status is described.

User support
This consumes a lot of time, and will continue to do so. The current state of documentation is much better than before, which has reduced the number of simple questions. The current support needs are much more complicated, and need more time to solve.
Replacing old modules
Converting old code to MailBox is quite simple now, but that doesn't mean that many people are doing this. It mainly helps people with experience with the old code to understand Mail::Box better.
No major documentation rewrite in this period. The documentation is in good shape, with all of the (about 1000) methods are described.
IMAP4 support
IMAP4 is now partially functional: opening a connection to the server, reading and writing messages, and modifying labels is now possible. This was a major effort, because IMAP is smart and MailBox too, which means that they both want to control over the activities. Many configuration parameters are introduced to speed-up IMAP access.
Outlook support
No changes in this final period, it simply works.
Database folders
The idea on what this documentation should become has shaped, but the text has not been written yet. This is still an open item.
Digital Signing
No progress has been made on signing messages. I have reports of people using external modules to check signatures, but a nice integration needs more studying first: especially about different practices.
Unicode support
Some people are using it, and a some progress has been made. Unicode itself is working, but this comes with the need to have high-level understanding of all the different kinds of header fields. That is complex task, which is progressing, but not at high speed.
Mailing list construction
Again, two more kinds of mailing list software can be detected. This is specially useful to remove the related fields from messages which are displayed or stored (these fields are often numerous and of little use: only the name of the list is of interest).
Browser support
HTML::FromMail implements a template system which connects to Mail::Box. You can develop powerful web-mail clients, with only little knowledge about Mail::Box. This modules needs promotion, probably at the some German Perl Workshop, in February 2004.

2. Releases

In these final two months, only three releases for Mail::Box

version 2.053: Thu Dec 4 00:13:50 CET 2003
version 2.052: Wed Dec 3 21:04:45 CET 2003
version 2.051: Mon Nov 3 16:16:09 CET 2003

Release 2.052 is a major one, introducing IMAP and many speed improvements. There have been some minor developments in spin-off modules, but they have not been released yet.

Tim Sellar, Matthew Darwin, Nick Ing-Simmons, Anthony D. Urso, 'asta', and Lutz Gehlen contributed code and ideas.

3. Promotion

There was no time left to develop more promotional activities.

4. Mailing list

The mailing list sees weird fluctuations in activity: when someone starts asking things, many follow the same day... and then it dies out again. The activity of the last months:

  December 32 (first 4 days!)
  November 47  
  October 26  
( September 34 )

A larger part of the communication is NOT going via the list, simply to avoid boring people too much. Since the previous evaluation, September 30st, about 270 messages where exchanged.

The number of subscribers on the mailing list has steadily grown to 118, with about one new subscriber a week. However, many support requests are (initially) not made through the mailing list.

5. Plans for the near future

Before the end of this year, the IMAP code will be tested for the remaining untested features, as there are the access to sub-folders and various authentication protocols. The required software is present, but it needs more testing.

An attempt will be made to enter one or more talks to the German Perl Workshop in February. The HTML::FromMail module will probably be promoted on that meeting, and the OODoc spin-off will be published there as well.

No major new folder back-ends are planned, although some smaller extentions well take place. For instance, the NMH format is simular to MH and can therefore be supported without too much hassle. Improving existing back-ends will get preference in the coming months.

Of course, user support (and the related fixes) will consume most of my spare time.

Project Mail::Box

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