I just wanted to post back to the group with my potential solution for receiving inbound email and creating data in my Rails application, including attached images. Hope this will be helpful for others. Of course, suggestions for improving my ideas is always welcome.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to post helpful responses to my original (multiple) inquiries.
I needed a feature in my Rails application that would receive inbound emails (from a Palm Treo 680, in particular) including an attached image. I wanted to use this data to create an entry in a product database for an online shopping web site. This requirement supports a small business owner who travels, finds products to buy and resell, and wanted immediate (easy) posting of available items on the site using a mobile device.
I decided to use a plain text email, with a defined format…
- Subject = product title
- 1st line = product description
- 2nd line = product price
- 3rd line = product cost (for accounting application sync)
- 4th line = product quantity
- Attachment = product image
I created a “mailer” model inheriting from ActionMailer. The mailer model had two important methods (among others). The first was the “check” method which will use Net::IMAP to poll the INBOX folder for new mail. The check method would then call the “receive” method which will take an individual mail, create a product, and create an associated image in the database. Finally, there is a “delete” method which removes the processed mail from the inbox.
I could not get IMAP to allow deletion of the old messages. I actually
had to use POP3 to do it. Something wacky here that may just be my
ignorance on this topic.
One of the bigger questions for me was how to periodically process the mail. There were several possibilities here and may well be others that I didn’t know about or consider. Here are a couple of the more popular ones…
- Use a server script to periodically “push” the mail into the Rails app using cron
- Use BackgroundRb to create a Rails background process for reading the mail periodically
However, I chose something a little simpler and possibly weird. I used the application controller to call the check mail function once per user/browser session. So inside the application.rb I have a before filter that calls a method. The method checks for a session variable that indicates whether mail has been checked yet or not. If not, it calls the model method for doing so. I don’t know the complete implications or trade-offs here, so this is an area where I would be happy to get input from Ruby/Rails experts. Given the low usage of the site and small number of products being entered, I chose to use this given that the only downside seemed to be a small wait (1-2 seconds) on the initial site load for the mail to be checked and the parts/images loaded.
class Mailer < ActionMailer::Base
begin imap = Net::IMAP.new('mail.***.com') if RAILS_ENV == "production" imap.authenticate
(‘LOGIN’, ‘prduser’, ‘prdpasswd’)
imap.authenticate('LOGIN', 'devuser', 'devpasswd') end imap.examine('INBOX') imap.search(['FROM', 'validuser@***.com']).each do |message_id| msg = imap.fetch(message_id,'RFC822').attr['RFC822'] envelope = imap.fetch
end imap.logout return true rescue RAILS_DEFAULT_LOGGER.error("Mailer Import Error: " + $!) return false end
def receive(email) return unless email.has_attachments?
emailbody = email.body.to_s.gsub(/\r/, ' ') part = Part.new part.description = email.subject part.notes = emailbody.split(/\n/) part.sellprice = emailbody.split(/\n/).to_f part.lastcost = emailbody.split(/\n/).to_f part.onhand = emailbody.split(/\n/).to_i part.partsgroup_id = 10280 if part.save! email.attachments.each do |attachment| next unless attachment.original_filename[-4..-1] == '.jpg' picture = Picture.new [picture.name](http://picture.name) = email.subject picture.part_id = [part.id](http://part.id) picture.imagedata = attachment.read picture.content_type = 'image/jpeg' picture.save! end end
if RAILS_ENV ==“production”
Net::POP3.delete_all('mail.***.com', 110, 'prduser', 'prdpasswd') else Net::POP3.delete_all('mail.***.com', 110, 'devuser', 'devpasswd') end
RAILS_DEFAULT_LOGGER.error("Mailer Import Error: " + $!)
class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
session[:checked_mail] = true Mailer.delete_mail end end
So far, this solution seems to work pretty well. I have not tested large numbers of emails or large numbers of concurrent users. This is only a potential solution and not one I would recommend for a larger site. Let’s have it…what do you think? How can this be improved?