An efficient IMAP client library, with SSL and streaming

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BSD3 licensed by Michal Kawalec
Maintained by

This is an IMAP library for Haskell that aims to be efficient, easy to use, transparent when it comes to underlying libraries and support results streaming. To this end it employs ListT, so you can use it with any concurrency management library of your choosing.

It tries to implement RFC-3501 as faithfully as possible, diverging from it where we noticed that servers have different ideas. If you want to understand this library, it's highly recommended to skim through that RFC first.


For a description of types used in this tutorial or an in-depth description of functions presented, please check the documentation or the source code.

All of the commands will output their results in ListT and MonadIO. Results consist of a list of UntaggedResults followed by a single TaggedResult that describes the command state (if it succeeded or failed).

We provide a helper function that simplifies the output types for the cases when you don't care about the streaming and just want a list of UntaggedResults or an error message. Depending on your needs you will probably use it for all the commands that are not FETCH.

Also, remember that you probably have to keep the connection alive so that the server doesn't disconnect you. Send a noop from time to time to achieve that.

Simple, no streaming

You need a connection object first, so that you can execute commands on it. It's produced by connectServer, which accepts parameters from Network.Connection. Say you want to connect to gmail:

import Network.Connection
import Network.IMAP
import Network.IMAP.Types
let tls = TLSSettingsSimple False False False
let params = ConnectionParams "" 993 (Just tls) Nothing
conn <- connectServer params Nothing

From now on you can run commands on this connection. The second parameter to connectServer is `Maybe IMAPSettings`. If settings are not provided, sane defaults will be used. We will use the simpleFormat helper function to convert from ListT to IO. Let's log in:

  simpleFormat $ login conn "mylogin" "mypass"
   Right [Capabilities [CIMAP4,CUnselect,CIdle,CNamespace,CQuota,CId,CExperimental "XLIST",CChildren,CExperimental "X-GM-EXT-1",CUIDPlus,CCompress "DEFLATE",CEnable,CMove,CCondstore,CEsearch,CUtf8 "ACCEPT",CListExtended,CListStatus,CAppendLimit 35882577]]

You can see that the server replied with a CAPABILITIES reply and the login was successful. Next, let's select an inbox:

  simpleFormat $ select conn "inbox2"
   Left "[NONEXISTENT] Unknown Mailbox: inbox2 (Failure)"

Oh, let's fix that

  simpleFormat $ select conn "inbox"
   Right [Flags [FAnswered,FFlagged,FDraft,FDeleted,FSeen,FOther "$NotPhishing",FOther "$Phishing",FOther "NonJunk"],PermanentFlags [FAnswered,FFlagged,FDraft,FDeleted,FSeen,FOther "$NotPhishing",FOther "$Phishing",FOther "NonJunk",FAny],UIDValidity 1,Exists 65,Recent 0,UIDNext 1050,HighestModSeq 251971]

Again you can use the metadata if you wish to. Let's see what messages we have (consult the RFC if you're unsure about the parameter to uidSearch):

  simpleFormat $ uidSearch conn "ALL"
   Right [Search [105,219,411,424,425,748,763,770,774,819,824,825,..]]

Fetching a message is straigtforward as well:

  simpleFormat $ uidFetch conn "219"
  Right [Fetch [MessageId 2,UID 219,Body "Delivered-To:\r\nReceived: by...

If you need more control on the parameters of fetch, there is a more general function available:

  simpleFormat $ uidFetchG conn "219 ALL"

Do you want multiple messages in one reply? That's easy with UID ranges!

  simpleFormat $ uidFetchG conn "219:9000 RFC822.SIZE"
  Right [Fetch [MessageId 2,UID 219,Size 4880],Fetch [MessageId 3,UID 411,Size 7392],...]

That's where streaming comes in handy - if these were message bodies you would probably like to do something with them before all are downloaded.

Replies we didn't expect

IMAP protocol allows for messages pushed to the client at any time, even when they're not requested. This is used to notify the client that a new message had arrived, or as status of a message had changed as it was read by another client. These server messages wait for you in a bounded message queue and you can read them like:

   import qualified Data.STM.RollingQueue as RQ
   msgs <- atomically . . untaggedQueue $ conn

Where conn is the connection from previous step.


There's an excellent article by Gabriel Gonzalez you should read :)

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