GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkGathering And Exchanging Email Threads
05:27:16 PM

Jon Udell wrote an article describing how he wrote a script to gather information out of threads stored in his gMail account:

Twice in the past few weeks, once for business and once for a personal matter, I've had to collect and transmit a set of related email threads. In both cases, the Gmail query that produced these collections searched tags (what Gmail calls labels) as well as Subject: or From: fields. For example, one of the queries looked like this in Gmail's user interface:

in:school teacher1 teacher2

where in:school refers to the virtual folder created by assigning the school tag, and teacher1 and teacher2 are the names of teachers. Gmail is terrifically handy for this kind of thing. I've gone back and reviewed three popular mail clients -- Outlook 11, OS X Mail, and Thunderbird -- and it's not at all clear how to achieve the same result using those programs. It would be interesting to collect and compare recipes for doing this, actually.

I can't help Jon with any information about Outlook, OS X Mail, or Thunderbird, but I can talk about Lotus Notes.

In Lotus Notes, we don't have tags. Well, actually, we do. Or we did, back in the old days. Before we had folders, we had "Categories" which could be applied to any message -- and it would be a piece of cake to resurrect this if anybody really wanted to... and given the popularity of tagging, perhaps we should. I'll stick to using what Notes users normally do use these days, though.

So the manual solution for Notes users would be to just go into the "School" folder and enter the query "teacher1 and teacher2" in the full text search box. To manually get the information out of the messages quickly, I would just select all messages in the result set and click the "Forward" action, which would concatenate all the results together into one message.

For a scripted solution, there are plenty of ways to do it but there's nothing that I know of that would be quite as simple as the script that Jon published, but that's only because nobody has built the equivalent of libGmail for Lotus Notes. Gary Devendorf had something called Lotus Collaboration Objects (I think) years ago, but I don't think that quite got to this level of simplicity. It certainly wouldn't be hard to use either VB or Java to build a general purpose Notes mail object with the needed capabilities. I'm not a scripting wonk (I don't even recognize what scripting language Jon is using in his example), but I imagine that any scripting language worth using probably has some way of working with COM objects, Java classes, or both. And as an alternative, a little time spent with Domino Web Access and a protocol analyzer would undoubtedly reveal a way to do this with DXL, and that could be built into a native object for any scripting language that can process http requests and XML.

This is all cool, but pretty doggone obvious to tell the truth. So why did I write this post? Because of one last point that I want to make: just about everything I've talked about here has been true for years. COM support goes back to Notes 5.02 (if I recall correctly) in 1999. Java support goes back to 4.6 in 1997. And Notes API programmers made data available to scripting languages even well before that. There was a VB interface called HiTest around 1995, and there was another one even earlier whose name I don't recall, and two additional scripting interfaces that I remember vaguely -- one that was callable from Rexx, and another that I think ran in it's own scripting environment. So, it's nice to know that the rest of the world is catching up

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Comments :v

1. John Head02/08/2006 10:59:57 AM

What was CDO seems to live in, thanks to Bob "Mr. Tux" Balaban, in the OpenNTF code bin:

Java and VB versions of what CDO was

2. Richard Schwartz02/09/2006 10:36:09 AM

Thanks, John. Come to think of it, I remember Bob mentioning that at one point.

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