[Dovecot] Thinking Outside the Box - Extending IMAP

Marc Perkel marc at perkel.com
Sun May 13 16:55:59 EEST 2007

Here's some thoughts I'd like to throw out there. I know it's not 
standard IMAP protocol but someone has to try new ideas first and I want 
to see what people (Timo) think of this.

IMAP establishes a connection between the client and the server. 
Wouldn't it be great if it could be a conduit to let custom Thunderbird 
plugins talk to custom server application over the IMAP interface? For 
example, personalized server settings. Suppose for example I want 
Thunderbird to edit my server side white lists or black lists or any 
other setting? Wouldn't it be nice if IMAP supported these changes? The 
connection is made. It's a secure connection that's been authenticated. 
Lets use it!

Here's my initial thoughts on this. Suppose we extended IMAP to include 
an EXECUTE command as follows:

EXECUTE command parameter, parameter ....

On the server side is a config file that has the commands that execute 
will allow and what programs they run. When the execute command is seen 
by Dovecot then Dovecot runs the program in the list with the parameters 
passed. For example, suppose there is a command to add a user to a 
server side blacklist.

100 execute blacklist add joe at smith.com
100 ok

Dovecot would open a two way connection to the server application 
allowing the client to talk to any application that is configured and 
can send and receive text. The connection persists until the server end 
terminates or the client closes the connection.

With a tool like this one can write generic applications easily that 
would greatly expand what email clients can do interacting with the 
server. Not only can setting be changes but you could interact with 
server side calendars, pick up voice messages from phone systems, run 
any sort of groupware, all over a generic IMAP connection with this 
simple extension.


100 EXECUTE calendar
100 ok
100 list schedule today 8:00 10:00
100 8:00 make coffee
100 9:00 meeting with boss
100 9:30 Call Joe Blow at 415-555-1212
100 ok
100 quit
100 ok

One thing I'd like to use it for is an outgoing SMTP connection to send 
outgoing email over IMAP. A session might look like this:

999 EXECUTE smtp
999 220 darwin.ctyme.com ESMTP Exim 4.67 Sun, 13 May 2007 06:52:26 -0700
999 helo ctyme.com
999 250 darwin.ctyme.com Hello localhost []
999 mail from:marc at perkel.com
999 250 OK
999 rcpt to:dovecot at dovecot.org
999 250 Accepted
999 quit
999 OK

Who likes this idea?

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