Mail Message  

The Mail Message control can be used to create and process messages in the format defined by the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) standard. When a message is parsed, it is broken into parts, each consisting of two sections. The first part is called the header section and it describes the format of the data and how it should be represented to the user. The second section is the data itself. A typical mail message without file attachments has one part, with the body of the message being the data. Messages with attachments have multiple parts, each with a header describing the type of data. The control can be then used to extract the data from a multipart message and save it to a file on the local system, delete the part from the message, or add additional parts to the message, such as attaching a file.

The control can also be used to create new multipart messages with alternative content, such a message with both plain text and styled HTML text. Once a message has been created, files can be attached to the message and the application can make any other changes that are needed. The control provides complete access to all headers and content in a multipart message, including the ability to create your own custom headers and make modifications to specific sections.

The following properties, methods and events are available for use by your application:

Initialize the control for the current process. This method is normally not used if the control is placed on a form in languages such as Visual Basic. However, if the control is being created dynamically using a function similar to CreateObject, then the application must call this method to initialize the component before setting any properties or calling any other methods in the control.

Compose a new message using the specified header field values and content. Using this method, you can create a message with the From, To, Cc and Subject headers already defined, along with any text for the message. You can also optionally provide both plain and styled HTML text versions of the message and the method will automatically create a multipart message.

Releases the memory allocated for the current message, including any file attachments, and creates a new, empty message.

Release any resources that have been allocated for the current process. This is the last method call that the application should make prior to terminating.

Message Headers

Each message has one or more headers fields which provide information about the contents of the message. For example, the "From" header field specifies the email address of the person who sent the message. There are a fairly large number of header fields defined by the MIME standard, and applications can also create their own custom headers if they wish. The control gives the application complete access to the header fields in a message. Headers can be examined, modified, created or removed from the message as needed.

This method copies the value of a header field into a string buffer that you provide. To return the value of the common header fields such as "From", "To" and "Subject", you should specify a message part of zero by setting the MessagePart property.

This method returns the value of the first header defined in the current message part, copying it into the string buffer that you provide. This is used in conjunction with the GetNextHeader method to enumerate all of the headers that have been defined.

This method returns the value of the next header defined in the current message part. It should be called in a loop until it returns a value of zero (False) which indicates that the last message header has been returned.

Set a message header field to the specified value in the current message part. If the value is an empty string, the message header will be deleted from the message.

Delete the specified message header from the current message part.

Message Contents

The content or body of a message contains the text that is to be read or processed by the recipient. It may be a simple, plain text message or it may be more complex, such as a combination of plain and styled HTML text or the data for a file attachment. The control provides complete access to the contents of the message, enabling the application to modify, extract, replace or delete specific sections of the message.

This property returns the current message, including the headers and all message parts, as a string. Setting this property will cause the current message to be cleared and replaced by the new value. The string contents must follow the standard specifications for a message. If the property is set to an empty string, the current message is cleared.

This property returns the body of the current message part. Setting this property replaces the entire message body with the new text.

SelLength, SelStart, SelText
The SelText property returns the selected message body text as specified by the SelStart and SelLength properties. Setting this property replaces text in the message body starting at the byte offset specified by the SelStart property.

Multipart Messages

Most typical messages contain a single part, which consists of the message headers followed by the contents of the message. However, when files are attached to a message or alternative content types such as HTML are used, a more complex multipart message is required. With a multipart message, the contents of the message are split into logical sections with each section containing a specific part of the message. For example, when a file is attached to a message, one part of the message contains the text to be read by the recipient and another part contains the data for the file.

The first of a multipart message is called part 0, and contains the main header block. This is what defines the headers that you are most familiar with, such as "From", "To" and "Subject". The body of this message part is typically a plain text message that indicates that this is a multipart message. This is done for the benefit of older mail clients that cannot parse MIME messages correctly. Next part, part 1, typically contains the actual body of the message that would be displayed by the mail client. Additional parts may contain file attachments and other information. In the case of a multipart message that contains both plain and styled HTML text versions of a message, part 1 is typically the plain text version of the message while part 2 contains the HTML version. The mail client can then make a decision based on its own configuration as to which version of the message it displays.

This property returns the current message part index. All messages have at least one part, which consists of one or more header fields, followed by the body of the message. The default part, part 0, refers to the main message header and body. If the message contains multiple parts (as with a message that contains one or more attached files), this property can be set to refer to that specific part of the message.

This property returns the number of parts in the current message. All messages have at least one part, referenced as part zero. Multipart messages will consist of additional parts which may be accessed by setting the Part property.

Create a new, empty message part. If the message was not originally a multipart message, it will be restructured into one. Otherwise, the new part is simply added to the end of the message. This method will cause the current message part to change to the new part that was just created.

Delete the message part from the message. If the message part is in the middle of the message, it will cause the subsequent parts of the message to be reordered. You should not delete part zero to delete a message; use the MimeDeleteMessage method instead.

Importing Messages

The control can be used to import existing messages, either from memory or from a file. Once the message has been parsed, the application can examine or modify specific parts of the message. The following methods are provided to import the contents of a message:

The simplest method of importing a message, this method reads the contents of the specified file and imports it into the current message. This method is typically called immediately after MimeCreateMessage to load a file into a new message context.

Exporting Messages

After a message has been created or modified, it can be exported to a file or to memory. Exporting the message to a memory buffer is particularly useful when using the control with another one of the SocketTools libraries. For example, the contents of a message can be exported to memory, and that memory address can be passed to the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) control for delivery to the recipient. The following methods are provided to export the contents of a message:

This method exports the current message to a file. When using this method, only certain headers are exported and they may be reordered. To force all headers to be included in the message or to preserve the order of the headers, set the Options property.

File Attachments

In addition to simple text messages, one or more files can be attached to a message. The process of attaching a file involves creating a multipart message, encoding the contents of the file and then including that encoded data in the message. The following methods are provided to manage files attached to the message, as well as attach files to an existing message:

A property which returns the name of a file attachment in the current message part. This property serves two purposes, to determine if the current message part contains a file attachment, and if so, what file name should be used when extracting that attachment.

This method attaches the contents of the file to the message. The file will be attached using the specified encoding algorithm and will become the current message part. If the message is not a multipart message, it will be converted to one; if it already is a multipart message, the attachment will be added to the end of the message.

This method works in similar fashion to MimeAttachFile, except that instead of the contents of a file, the data in a memory buffer will be attached to the message. If the message is not a multipart message, it will be converted to one; if it already is a multipart message, the attachment will be added to the end of the message.

This method attaches an inline image file to the message. It is similar to the AttachFile method, except that the image is designed to be referenced as an embedded graphic in an HTML message. This method will automatically set the correct header values for an inline image attachment, and enables the developer to specify a content ID which is used in the HTML message.

Extract the file attachment in the current message part, storing the contents in a file. The attachment will automatically be decoded if necessary. This method also recognizes uuencoded attachments that are embedded directly in the body of the message, rather than using the standard MIME format.

Mail Addresses

The Mail Message control also has methods which are designed to make it easier to work with email addresses. Addresses are typically in the format of "" however additional information can be included with the address, such as the user's name or other comments that aren't part of the address itself. The control can parse these addresses for you, returning them in a format that is suitable for use with other protocols such as the SMTP control.

Parse an email address that may include an address without a domain name or comments in the address, such as the user's name. For example, the From header field may return an address like "Joe Smith <>"; this method would parse the address and return "", the actual address for the user.

It is common for certain headers to contain multiple addresses separated by a comma. These addresses may also include comments such as the user's name. This property array returns a list of valid addresses defined in the current message. For example, the To header field may contain "Tom Jones <>, Jerry Lewis <>"; this property array would return "" and "" as the two addresses listed. The total number of addresses that are available is returned by the Recipients property.

Message Storage

The control has a collection of methods which makes it simple for an application to store a group of messages together in a single file, search for and retrieve specific message. The collection of messages is referred to as a "message store" and messages may either be stored in a plaintext format or in a compressed binary format.

This method is used to open an existing message store or creates a new storage file. If a storage file has been opened previously, it will be closed and the new storage file will be opened. The storage files may either be plaintext, or stored in a compressed format. It also supports opening storage files in the UNIX mbox format.

This property returns the total number of messages that currently in the message store, including deleted messages. Each message is referred to by an integer which is its index into the storage file.

This property specifies the current message index into the storage file. Messages are identified by an integer value that starts at one for the first message and increments for each additional message in the storage file. If no message store has been opened, this property will return a value of zero. Changing the value of this property changes the current message index for the message store.

An application can search the message store for messages that match any header value. Searches can be complete or partial, and may be case-sensitive or case-insensitive. For example, this method can be used to enumerate all of the messages in the storage file that were sent by a specific user or match a specific subject.

This method reads a message from the storage file and replaces the current message. If the application modifies the message, it can replace the message in the storage file or discard the changes.

This method writes the current message to the message store. Note that the message store must be opened for write access, and the message will always be appended to the storage file. The StoreIndex property is updated with the index value for the new message.

This method flags a message for deletion from the message store. Once a message has been flagged for deletion, it may no longer be accessed by the application. When the storage file is closed, the contents of the deleted message will be removed from the file.

This method replaces an existing message in the storage file, overwriting it with the current message. Unlike many of the other methods which do not permit the application to reference a deleted message, this method can be used to replace a previously deleted message.

The message store must be closed when the application has finished accessing it. This method updates the storage file with any changes, purges all deleted messages and closes the storage file. If the storage file is locked for exclusive access, this method will release that lock, allowing another process to open the file.