Monday, February 3, 2014

Introducing MailKit, a cross-platform .NET mail-client library

Once I announced MimeKit, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I started getting asked about SMTP, IMAP, and/or POP3 support.

Let's just say,

Challenge... ACCEPTED!




I started off back in early December writing an SmtpClient so that developers using MimeKit wouldn't have to convert a MimeMessage to a System.Net.Mail.MailMessage in order to send it using System.Net.Mail.SmtpClient. This went pretty quickly because I've implemented several SMTP clients in the past. Implementing the various SASL authentication mechanisms probably took as much or more time than implementing the SMTP protocol.

The following weekend, I ended up implementing a Pop3Client. Originally, I had planned on more-or-less cloning the API we had used in Evolution, but I decided that I would take a different approach. I designed a simple IMessageSpool interface which more closely follows the limited functionality of POP3 and mbox spools instead of trying to map the Pop3Client to a Store/Folder paradigm like JavaMail and Evolution do (Evolution's mail library was loosely based on JavaMail). Mapping mbox and POP3 spools to Stores and Folders in Evolution was, to my recollection, rather awkward and I wanted to avoid that with MailKit.

At first I was loathe to do it, but over the past 2 weeks I ended up writing an ImapClient as well. I'm sure Philip van Hoof will be pleased to note that I have a very nice BODYSTRUCTURE parser, although that API is not publicly exported.

Unlike the SmtpClient and Pop3Client, the ImapClient does not have all of its functionality on a single public class. Instead, ImapClient implements an IMessageStore which has a limited API, mostly meant for getting IFolders. I imagine that those who are familiar with the JavaMail and/or Evolution (Camel) APIs will recognize this design.

The IFolder interface isn't designed to be exactly like the JavaMail Folder API, though. I've been designing the interface incrementally as I implement the various IMAP extensions (I've found at least 37 of them at the time of this blog post, although I don't think I'll bother with ACL, MAILBOX-REFERRAL, or LOGIN-REFERRAL), so the API may continue to evolve as I go, but I think what I've got now will likely remain - I'll probably just be including additional APIs for the new stuff.

So far, I've implemented the following IMAP extensions: LITERAL+, NAMESPACE, CHILDREN, LOGIN-DISABLED, STARTTLS, MULTIAPPEND, UNSELECT, UIDPLUS, CONDSTORE, ESEARCH, SASL-IR, SORT, THREAD, SPECIAL-USE, MOVE, XLIST, and X-GM-EXT1. Phew, that was exhausting listing all of those!

Also news-worthy is that MimeKit is now equally as fast as GMime, which is pretty impressive considering that it is fully managed C# code.

Download MailKit 0.2 now and let the hacking begin!
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