Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Side project, or a tale of paranoia and python

This starts with a post to clug-tech (, titled "Make automatic backups of gmail account". This extracted several obvious solutions using getmail or fetchmail & gmail's IMAP service. There are obvious weaknesses with using IMAP to backup mail, though - exposing all the labels as folders is not desirable when you regularly use multiple labels per message, and any re-arrangement of mail into per month mailboxes or the like needs to be handled client side, which seems a waste given that gmail has a rather nice search engine as a major selling point.

Combine this with the following ingredients:
  • I'm prone to sporadic bursts of data paranoia
  • I've wanted to play with libgmail (a python interface to gmail) for ages
  • I don't have a backup of my gmail account's mail
  • work has involved lots of meetings & academic proposal writing, and not much of actual interest of late.
The result is Gparanoia, a simple little python program for pulling down mail. It's currently far from robust, and far from complete, but kinda-sorta-maybe does some of what I want some of the time, which seems the perfect point at which to turn it loose into the wild. It may very well eat your data, start a land war in Asia, or generally behave in an ill-mannered way at the dinner table, but it's available if people want to play with it.

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