Forum OpenACS Development: Re: Extend Forums to suport Email List archives

Posted by Daniël Mantione on
On we use Mailman. I'm currently using static pages to make my mailing list archives searchable. That's a killer feature for the website, but it doesn't work ideal since the "presentation" around each e-mail is also considered by the search system, it affects both the search results (some words appear on all pages) as the summary that is shown after each result (includes presentation).

So I'm quite interrested in this feature. However, I would make a separate package, because:

  • Not all features of forums make sense for mailinglists
  • There is metadata in e-mails which can be put to good use (message-id, references). The database tables for forums have not been designed for this purpose.
  • User interface issues. E-mail might need a slightly different user interface than forums.

Mailman stores all its e-mail archives both in html format as in mbox format. The mbox format could be nicely used to build an user interface uppon and provide a search wide search service contract.

Of course the situation could be very different in a different mailinglist manager. What mailinglist manager were you thinking about?

Posted by Andrew Piskorski on
Daniël, of course I would prefer to save all useful mail header metadata so that going from email file archive to database and back does not lose anything significant. That will need investigation.

Mailing list managers should be more or less irrelevant. AFAIK they all store any archived emails just like a client email reader does, in one of three or four different standard file formats. At least for the first pass that's all that matters. As the project actually gets going we'd want to look into that more, as it's likely that different mailing list manager programs insert additional headers into the emails which may contain useful metadata.

I have no opinion yet whether this new functionality should be added into the existing Forums package, constructed as a second package, or what. I definitely think that the existing Forums data model, code, and especially UI should be re-used as much as is possible and practical. Web-based forums, email lists, and Usenet groups are all merely differently flavored implementations of the same basic concept, the "discussion list", and the software design should reflect that. I seek to unify them.