Running a PHP script on email arrival in an IMAP Server

I'm trying to implement a webmail in PHP. I would like to write a PHP CLI script which is run on every email arrival to store some parts of (not all of) incoming email into database for search purposes. Then when the user finished searching and chose an email to show, a connection is made to mail server to retrieve the complete email. In order to implement this scenario I need to make some sort of connection among emails within database and mail server.

Since my knowledge of working with mail servers is limited to Zend Framework's API, what I believe I need in order to retrieve an email from an IMAP server is a message number or a message unique id (this later one seems not to be supported by all mail servers).

To this point, I've managed to find .forward (and some other ways) to introduce my PHP CLI script to MTAs to be run on every email arrival. This way I can store emails to database. But this won't do since message unique id is created by MDA so MTA do not know of it and they can not provide it to me. This means I can not find emails later when I want to retrieve them from mail server.

At last, here's my question: Is there a way to introduce a PHP CLI script to a MDA for emails' arrival? If this is dependent on the mail server, which servers do support this and how? My personal choice would be Dovecot or Courier, but any other mail server would do as well.


This is tricky -- there are many ways on how to setup delivery. Some of them work with the underlying mail store directly, bypassing your IMAP server altogether, while others use e.g. Dovecot's facilities.

Have you considered building on top of the notify plugin which ships with Dovecot?

It seems like it's impossible to introduce such a PHP CLI script to IMAP server (at least I'm sure of Dovecot). Anyway, the work around I found for this problem is to use my own PHP script to insert the new mails into IMAP server and retrieve their id's and then store the id in database for future references. To be clear, email are given to my PHP CLI script by MTA, not MDA. As I said before this is done easily using .forward file.


Unfortunately it seems this solution can not be implemented as well. The way to insert a new email to IMAP server is APPEND command, and to have the UID of the recently added mail server must support UIDPLUS extension. Neither Dovecot nor Courier supports this extension at the moment! If they did it seems the server would return the UID with a APPENDUID response.


It is my bad since Courier does support UIDPLUS. So this solution is valid and the one I'm going to implement.

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