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.Dd March  4, 2021
.Dt MAILING-LIST 7
.Os "Causal Agency"
.
.Sh NAME
.Nm Mailing List
.Nd a small-scale approach
.
.Sh DESCRIPTION
When I initially published
some software I expected
other people to use,
I just asked that patches
be mailed directly to me,
but I figured that
if more people were interested,
it would be better
to have a mailing list.
Unfortunately
email software,
mailing list options in particular,
are quite daunting.
I wanted a light-weight option
that would require me to host
as little software as possible.
.
.Pp
My regular email is hosted by Fastmail,
and I poked around its settings
to see what I could do.
It turns out Fastmail lets you
configure address aliases to
.Dq also send to all contacts in
a contacts group.
That's a mailing list!
I created a group called
.Dq List
and an alias called
.Mt list@causal.agency
configured to deliver to that group.
So it's really just an alias
for my regular address
that happens to also
deliver to another group of people.
.
.Pp
It's easier to just configure
and manage one mailing list,
so what I do is ask patches and feedback
to be sent to
.Mt list+catgirl@causal.agency ,
for example.
Fastmail treats any
.Ar +suffix
the same as the base address,
but the full address can be used
by subscribers to filter mail by topic
if they wish.
.
.Pp
To subscribe someone to the list,
I add their contact to the group.
For a long time I was planning
to write some software
to manage these subscriptions.
It should be possible
to process subscription requests from IMAP
and manipulate the contact group with CardDAV.
When I went to start implementing this,
however,
I found CardDAV (and WebDAV in general)
completely inscrutable.
It's the kind of protocol
that is split across like 20
different RFCs
and you can't understand anything
by just reading
the one you actually care about.
So I've given up on that
and will keep manually subscribing people
on request.
.
.Pp
The only thing missing, then,
is a way for people to read
mail sent to the list
while they aren't subscribed.
All the existing
mailing list archive software
I know of
expects to have the mail locally,
but I'd rather keep all my mail in IMAP.
First,
in order to make sure
I keep a complete archive
of the mailing list in IMAP,
I added a small amount
of Sieve code
to my Fastmail filters configuration:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
if address :matches ["To", "Cc"] "list*@causal.agency" {
	fileinto :copy :flags "\e\eSeen" "INBOX.List";
}
.Ed
.
.Pp
Sieve is a small standard language
specifically for filtering mail.
This bit of code matches
anything sent to the list
and adds a copy of it
(the original is going into my inbox)
to the
.Dq List
folder
and marks the copy as read.
.
.Pp
With a pristine IMAP mailbox
to export from,
I wrote a new archive generator.
It's called
.Xr bubger 1
kirg (have it in a way).
My goal was to render directly from IMAP
and produce only static files as output,
making it not only easy to serve,
but also to run in one place
and copy the files elsewhere.
That's important to me
because it has access to my email,
so I'd rather run it
on my local network and
.Xr rsync 1
its output into The Cloud.
The static files are in
HTML, Atom and mboxrd formats.
.
.Pp
The architecture of
.Xr bubger 1
is that for each piece of mail,
identified by its UID in the mailbox,
HTML and Atom fragments
are exported along with the mboxrd.
Those fragments are then stitched together
using the IMAP SORT and THREAD extensions
to make full pages and feeds
for each thread.
The fragments act as a cache
for subsequent runs.
.
.Pp
I admit I did some
pretty questionable things
to achieve this.
Namely,
I wrote a small string templating engine in C.
I use it to produce the HTML
and XML for Atom,
as well as to generate URLs
and paths.
I'm really happy with how it works, actually.
This is also where
I really started using
one of my favourite C hacks:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
#define Q(...) #__VA_ARGS__
.Ed
.
.Pp
I quote all my HTML/XML templates
with this and it's lovely.
.
.Pp
I've been working on
.Xr bubger 1
on and off for almost a year now,
and it's been interesting.
I learned a lot about how email
works from having to deal with
all the ways a message can be.
Thankfully a lot of that dealing
is done by the IMAP server.
.
.Pp
As for running it,
I initially just ran it with
.Xr cron 8 ,
and that's still a good way to go.
To hook it up to
.Xr rsync 1 ,
pipe it like so:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
bubger -C list [...] | rsync -a --files-from=- list remote:list
.Ed
.
.Pp
Later,
I got a little annoyed
with having to wait
for the next run
if I wanted to link
to some mail I just received.
I added an option
to use IMAP IDLE
to wait for new mail continuously
and I started running it
under my process supervisor,
.Xr catsitd 8 .
.
.Pp
The setup is a little more complex
to feed the list of updated files to
.Xr rsync 1 .
I added the
.Xr catsit-watch 1
utility to run a command
when a file changes,
and in my
.Xr catsit.conf 5
I have the following:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
bubger	~/.local/libexec/bubger
rsync	catsit-watch -i -f ~/list/UIDNEXT ~/.local/libexec/rsync
.Ed
.
.Pp
The
.Pa ~/.local/libexec/bubger
script runs
.Xr bubger 1 ,
writing the list of updated paths to
.Pa ~/list/FILES :
.Bd -literal -offset indent
exec bubger -i -C ~/list [...] >~/list/FILES
.Ed
.
.Pp
And the
.Pa ~/.local/libexec/rsync
script gets run each time a
.Xr bubger 1
update completes
.Po
.Pa UIDNEXT
is always the last file written
.Pc
and copies the listed files
to the remote host:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
exec rsync -a --files-from=$HOME/list/FILES ~/list remote:list
.Ed
.
.Pp
I haven't tagged any
.Xr bubger 1
releases yet
because it hasn't gotten
a huge amount of testing,
and I'm not sure anyone but me
would even want to use it.
But I'm happy
with how it's working right now,
so I might tag 1.0 soon
just for fun.
.
.Sh SEE ALSO
.Bl -item -compact
.It
.Lk https://causal.agency/list/
.It
.Lk https://git.causal.agency/bubger/about
.It
.Lk https://git.causal.agency/catsit/about
.El
.
.Sh AUTHORS
.An june Aq Mt june@causal.agency
.
.Sh BUGS
Almost every time
I try to type
.Dq mailing list
I instead type
.Dq mailist list .