ACS Messaging Design

ACS Messaging was born out of the design of the new bboard. One thing we discovered when researching requirements for bboard and discussion software in general was that there are a variety of ways one may wish to structure and organize threads of messages e.g. in discrete forums with tagged categories, attached to other user objects annotated with user ratings, etc.,. Our design addressed this by separating the store of messages from the organizational data model and any user interfaces.ACS Messaging is this separate layer. Built atop the content repository, it provides the storage and retrieval of messages. We take messages to be objects that consist of a sender (an ACS party), a text body, an optional reference to a parent message, optional file attachments, and some miscellaneous auditing data.With these constraining set of semantics, we can build a library of component functionality to operate on messages. For example: code that displays a message, forwards a message, compiles a set of messages into a digest, displays a specific attachment, etc., This functionality can then be reused across messaging applications such as bboard, webmail, and general comments. We can maintain user preferences on HTML vs. text email, inline attachments vs. URLs across the system, and have simple procedures that do the right thing when sending email. Another example: if we built the IMAP server functionality 3.4 webmail provides against acs-messaging, then bboard forums, pages of comments, and webmail folders could be viewed uniformly through your email client. The IMAP mapping isn't quite trivial, but you can see the idea.To reiterate, if applications are storing the same sort of data (a text-ish messages with optional attachments and replies), they should store them the same way. Then code from particular applications can possibly be refactored into generic functionality.spam/general alerts/etc isn't meant to be replaced by ACS Messaging, at least not with what is there currently. Currently it is just a store; but we intend it to be the canonical store for messages that need to be stored in the database. If messages are automatically generated from other user objects, they might need to be queue'd up or archived in the RDBMS. If so this should be done in the acs-messaging tables. We can implement the generic incoming email system by stashing messages in acs-messaging, then dispatching the message id to package specific code for processing.Currently (11/2000), ACS Messaging is very slim; it just supports bboard. We intend to add attachments (most likely implemented as content repository items that are children of the message), extensible headers (just like the webmail datamodel), and versioning as provided by the content repository.


ACS Messaging provides the acs_messages_all view as the primary mechanism for message queries.

create or replace view acs_messages_all as
    select m.message_id, m.reply_to, o.context_id, r.title, r.publish_date,
           r.mime_type, r.content, o.creation_user
ACS Messaging provides the PL/SQL function to add new messages.