Steve Kemp's Blog Writings relating to Debian & Free Software

After you've started it seems like a bad idea?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

To recap: given the absence of other credible alternatives I had two options:

  • Re-hack mutt to give me a sidebar that will show only folders containing new messages.
  • Look at writing a "simple mail client". Haha. Ha. Hah.

I think there is room for a new console client, because mutt is showing its age and does feel like it should have a real extension language - be it guile, lisp, javascript(!), Lua, or something else.

So I distilled what I thought I wanted into three sections:

  • mode-ful. There would be a "folder-browsing mode", a "message-browsing mode" and a "read-a-single-message" mode.
  • There would be scripting. Real scripting. I chose Lua.
  • You give it ~/Maildir as the configuration. Nothing else. If the damn computer cannot find your mailboxes something is wrong.

So how did I do? I wrote a ncurses-based client which has Lua backed into it. You can fully explore the sidebar-mode - which lets you select multiple folders.

From there you can view the messages in a list.

What you can't do is anything "real":

  • Update a messages flags. new -> read, etc.
  • GPG-validation.
  • MIME-handling.
  • Attachment viewing.

For a two-day hack it is remarkably robust, and allowing scripting shows awesomeness. Consider this:

--
-- show all folders in the Maildir-list.
--
function all()
   -- ensure that the sidebar displays all folders
   sidebar_mode = "all";
   -- we're going to be in "maildir browsing mode"
   cmail_mode = "sidebar";
   reset_sidebar();
   refresh_screen();
end

--
-- Test code, show that the pattern-searching works.
--
-- To use this press ":" to enter the prompt, then enter "livejournal".
--
-- OR press "l" when in the sidebar-mode.
--
function livejournal()
   sidebar_pattern = "/.livejournal.2";
   sidebar_mode = "pattern";
   reset_sidebar();
   refresh_screen();
end

--
-- There is a different table for each mode.
--
keymap = {}
keymap['sidebar'] = {}
keymap['index']   = {}
keymap['message'] = {}

--
-- In the sidebar-mode "b" toggles the sidebar <-> index.
--
-- ":" invokes the evaluator.
-- "q" quits the browser and goes to the index-mode.
-- "Q" quits the program entirely.
--
keymap['sidebar'][':'] = "prompt-eval"
keymap['sidebar']['b'] = "toggle"
keymap['sidebar']['q'] = "toggle"
keymap['sidebar']['Q'] = "exit"

-- show all/unread/livejournal folders
keymap['sidebar']['a'] = "all"
keymap['sidebar']['u'] = "unread"
keymap['sidebar']['l'] = "livejournal"

Neat, huh? See the cmail.lua file on github for more details.

My decision hasn't really progressed any further, though I can see that if this client were complete I'd love to use it. Its just that the remaining parts are the fiddly ones.

I guess I'll re-hack mutt, and keep this on the back-burner.

The code is ropey in places, but should you wish to view:

And damn C is kicking my ass.

| No comments

 

 

Spiral Logo

Search

Recent Posts

Recent Tags

Links

RSS Feed

  • Subscribe to feed