Click here to close now.


You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Use the JavaMail API to Build an IMAP Custom Tag

Use the JavaMail API to Build an IMAP Custom Tag

Don't reinvent the wheel." We've all heard, and perhaps uttered, this maxim many times during our programming careers. ColdFusion MX has introduced new features to help CF developers avoid reinventing the wheel, including tag-based user-defined functions (UDFs) and ColdFusion components (CFCs).

As more CF developers begin to use these features, more code will be available for other developers to download and use. However, code reuse in ColdFusion is not limited to ColdFusion code. Integrating with Java is easier than ever with MX. Since the developer base for Java is large and it has been around much longer than ColdFusion UDFs and CFCs, there is a lot of code already out there that CF developers can use. I discovered this firsthand on a recent project when I didn't think about using existing Java libraries before starting down another path.

This project required me to programmatically access e-mail messages in a subfolder of an e-mail inbox. I couldn't use the CFPOP tag to do this because the protocol implemented by CFPOP - the "Post Office Protocol" - is designed to allow users to download messages from the "inbox" folder only. Another protocol is required to access subfolders - the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP).

After discovering that I needed to use IMAP to accomplish my task, I looked for a way to use it with ColdFusion. Unfortunately, since there is no built-in ColdFusion tag that implements IMAP, and I had been looking for an excuse to play around with Java, my first reaction was "Cool! I'll write my own!"

I learned a few IMAP commands and started playing around with the low-level Java networking libraries. Two days and many lines of code later, I had written a marginal IMAP client. Although it mostly worked, it still needed additional functionality and I wasn't at all confident in its stability. I knew there had to be a better way.

JavaMail API
Fortunately, I discovered that there is a much better way - use the JavaMail API. According to Sun's JavaMail Web site (, this API "provides a set of abstract classes that model a mail system" including support for IMAP - the same functionality (plus a lot more) that I had been struggling with for two days. Best of all, since it's included in the J2EE platform, on which ColdFusion MX is built, I didn't have to download anything or make any configuration changes to use it. This was the option I should have considered from the start.

Design Goals
Now that I had found a library, I wanted to make it simple to use from ColdFusion. Since I was already comfortable using the CFPOP tag, I decided to encapsulate some of JavaMail's functionality into a custom tag that, as much as possible, provides the same interface as CFPOP. The tag's full code is shown in the code listing. Listing 1 shows the functions that interact with the API.

Listing 2 shows the tag's main logic. For the sake of brevity, the code shown in the listing includes only one of the actions provided by CFPOP's interface - the "GETHEADERONLY" action. This excludes the "GETALL" action, which provides the ability to view a message's contents and attachments, and the "DELETE" action.

The Code
The JavaMail API consists of a bunch of classes that model a mail system. The highest-level class is the "Session" class. The session class allows you to specify properties like "port" and "timeout." To specify properties, first create and set a "Properties" object. The following sets the protocol to IMAP and the port to 143:

obj_Properties =

Now create the session object and pass in the properties object:

cls_Session =
obj_Session =

The session class also provides a method for getting the "store." The store class abstracts the underlying protocol (in this case IMAP) and provides methods for logging into the mailbox.

obj_Store = createObject("Java",
obj_Store =

Now you are ready to start accessing folders. The only folder that you can access using POP is the "inbox" folder. With IMAP, you can access subfolders below the inbox. The following code accesses and opens the folder "test," which is a subfolder of "inbox":

obj_Folder =

Note that this code opens the folder with read permissions only. This is a good idea if you only want to browse the contents of the folder. If you want to delete, move, or update messages, open the folder with read and write permissions:

The next step is to get a list of messages in the folder. With the JavaMail API, this is done by retrieving an array of "Message" objects.

ar_Messages =

This code returns all messages in the folder. If you only need a subset of the messages, you must pass an array of message numbers to the "getMessages" function. Because I modeled my IMAP tag after the CFPOP tag, I wanted to allow the user to pass a list of message numbers to the tag. This discrepancy was easily remedied by using the built-in "ListToArray" ColdFusion function.

ar_Messages =

Once you have the messages, you are ready to read the message headers using methods of the "Message" object. The following shows how to access the "subject" and "to addresses" of the first message in the folder (which is located at position 1 of the messages array):

// Get the received date
str_Subject =

// Get the to addresses
cls_RecipientType =
ar_To =
lst_ToAddresses =

Note that the "getRecipients" method of the "Message" object returns an array of addresses since an e-mail message can be addressed to more than one person. This is also true when getting the "from", "reply-to", "CC", and "BCC" addresses. Also note the dollar sign ($) syntax used to invoke the "RecipientType" class. RecipientType is an "inner class" of the "Message" class. Although you can access inner classes in Java code by using dot notation (e.g., "Message.RecipientType"), this doesn't work in ColdFusion code.

Now that you have read the messages, the next step is to delete the unwanted ones. To do this, you set the "deleted" flag of the message and then call the folder object's "expunge" method:

cls_Flag =

Where to Go from Here
The code presented here only scratches the surface of the functionality provided by IMAP. Most obviously, it lacks the ability to read message contents and attachments. Another useful feature would allow users to retrieve a listing of subfolders. If you are interested in adding these or other features, check out the JavaMail tutorial at onlineTraining/JavaMail/contents.html and the API specification at javamail/1.3/docs/javadocs/index.html.

With the release of MX, ColdFusion developers have more options for code reuse, including native access to a wide array of predeveloped Java software. Sometimes, especially for developers who don't have extensive Java experience, using existing Java libraries is not always the most obvious option. However, in ColdFusion MX, it can be a very worthwhile option to consider. It certainly is one that I strongly recommend the next time you start a project and think "Cool, I'll just write it myself..."

More Stories By Christian Thompson

Christian Thompson is a certified advanced Macromedia ColdFusion MX developer. He is a senior software engineer for Inserso, a technology consulting firm headquartered in Annandale, VA, where he has specialized in ColdFusion application development for over two years.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Christian Thompson 05/27/03 10:53:00 AM EDT

As it is, the tag does not allow you to connect with NNTP servers. With a little configuration (getting and setting up an NNTP provider), though, JavaMail does. Once you got this set up, you would have create a tag similar to CF_IMAP that performs the necessary actions. I have included a link that talks a little about accessing NNTP servers with JavaMail.

Craig Rosenblum 05/26/03 11:17:00 PM EDT

Does this allow us to do nntp reading and posting?

Christian Thompson 05/12/03 02:25:00 PM EDT

According to the documentation, BlueDragon's CFIMAP implements the following actions: list folders, list messages, mark message as read, delete message, move message, delete folder, and move folder. Since the tag presented in this article currently only lists messages, you would need to add the rest of the functions. The good news is that they are all implemented in JavaMail. You would just need to write the CF code to call the functions.

Abraham 05/08/03 12:24:00 PM EDT

Nice article.

I'm planning to write a email app and want IMAP support.

I've been playing with BlueDragon lately, which offers a tag called CFIMAP. Would it take much extra code to get the same functionality?

@ThingsExpo Stories
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.