EXTRA and JMAP: Improving Mailstore Access

By: Bron Gondwana

Date: October 31, 2017

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There are presently two IETF Working Groups looking at email mailstore client protocols. Chartered in late 2017, Email mailstore and eXtensions To Revise or Amend (EXTRA) is tasked with maintaining existing standards related to email stores. This includes both creating new extensions and correcting and clarifying existing standards and extensions where needed.

To begin, we are processing the backlog of proposed extensions to the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) that have already been written. Once that is complete, we will look for existing vendor-specific behaviour that can be generalised, and coordinate with the JSON Mail Access Protocol (JMAP) WG on common data-model needs. EXTRA will hold our first meeting at IETF 100 in Singapore.

JMAP is a new JSON-based protocol for interactions with a mailstore. The charter aims to retain data-model compatibility with IMAP, so a server can provide both JMAP and IMAP access to the same mail. JMAP specifically focuses on simplicity for client authors and efficient synchronisation primitives, including over constrained channels.

The JMAP WG held meetings at IETF 98 in Chicago and IETF 99 in Prague, and has an active mailing list. Both the core protocol and the mail-specific drafts have undergone significant revisions, and new drafts are expected to be presented before IETF 100 in Singapore. Many of the significant areas of debate have been resolved, however some ongoing churn is expected before we reach consensus.

Both groups look forward to new members and more feedback, particularly from client or server implementers, who are willing to  share how their own data models could implement proposed drafts. Please come by our sessions in Singapore (in person or remotely) and join our mailing lists.

EXTRA mailing list:

JMAP mailing list: