Solution for IMAP Headaches Out of Beta

Kin Lane, December 22nd, 2011

I don’t think you have to be a developer to know that IMAP is a pain in the ass.  Anyone who has used IMAP knows how wonky the experience can be, and as a developer if you have done more that basic folder listing and message display, you know IMAP is a headache. The Context.IO API is working to alleviate common IMAP headaches and it’s now out of beta.

The company is aiming to provide a much more solid way to integrate a user’s email into any application:

In IMAP, folders are separate, and to fetch desired data, it’s necessary to search each folder individually to extract what’s needed–with Context.IO the whole mailbox is one database and folders are optional filters.

In IMAP, there are no fixed/persistent message IDs, just a sequence ID and UID, but the sequence ID is reset every time a client deletes a message and the UID is set on a per-folder basis, and can be invalidated by the server at any time–context.IO assigns a unique and persistent ID to every message.

Using IMAP as a live datasource is not realistic when a simple query like history of messages with a contact turns into long sequence of IMAP commands–Context.IO takes care of that by maintaining its own metadata index exposed via an HTTPS interface that can be used as a live datasource.

Context.IO goes beyond what IMAP exposes, and provides five key resources on top of standard email boxes: contacts, files, messages, threads and webhooks.  Emails are much more than just folders and lists of messages, your email is a knowledgebase.

Context.IO API replaces multiple complex IMAP requests with simple RESTful API requests with JSON responses, providing a much more  stable connection with mailboxes that scales and provides more flexibility than standard IMAP.

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