Tag Archives: email

Here’s A Useful Testing Application

So, a few years back, I consulted at NASA doing some work on a really cool system for storing and retrieving documentation on systems in flight. Basically, it was a very customized Bugzilla that winds up saving the American taxpayer millions of dollarsĀ every year. There’s a post I wrote at the time about how to print to PDF from Perl that is still the single most popular blog post I’ve ever written. It still gets traffic, and that tells me that the library is still terrible at telling you how to use it. Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today, I’m advertising another application that arose from the same gig: a dummy SMTP/POP3 server.

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Stupid Email Tricks

I’ve been working on adding play-by-email support to my turn-based game server. The first problem I hit was that the PGP signatures on the server’s messages were invalid when I checked them on my email client. This led to lots of debugging and unit tests in my crypto utility. That’s not really wasted effort, but it also wasn’t the problem.

It turns out that even though the RFC limit on line length is 1000 characters and there are well-known implementation limits that are only slightly lower, there exists somewhere in the chain from Google AppEngine to Apple Mail some chunk of code that inserts newlines into lines that are much shorter. I didn’t do exhaustive testing, but it seems to happen before 80. The perfectly valid signatures were being rendered invalid because somebody was altering the message after the server signed it and handed it off to the transport agent.

The solution I chose was to use WordUtils from commons-text and to wrap the message at 70 characters before signing. This seems to work. It’s just kind of dumb that it’s necessary, but it’s a good reminder that the thing in your inbox may not actually be the thing sent to you by whomever, and that PGP signing your messages is a good idea even if you don’t encrypt them.

Hey, I Built a Thing

My new job involves hacking on Bugzilla and part of that involves email. Bug email, system administration email, yadda yadda. I wanted a way to test that email without it ever leaving my development system. We had a mechanism in place where the emails would just get written to a plain file, but that doesn’t help with HTML email. I wanted to be able to see the email rendered all nice and tidy in Mail.app. A couple of jobs ago, one of my coworkers put something together out of Python and it worked great, but I couldn’t find an already-done example online anywhere. Other servers were GUI or Mac-only and therefore wouldn’t work on a headless Linux test server. Whatever solution I picked, I’d have to write some code.

Well, I found a Java SMTP test server and wrote a simple POP3 server into it. So now I’ve modified dumbster and made my modifications available to the world. Use it, improve it, do as you like. It’ll make my life easier, and I hope it makes yours a little better, too.