faqs.org - Internet FAQ Archives

RFC 5267 - Contexts for IMAP4

Or Display the document by number

Network Working Group                                        D. Cridland
Request for Comments: 5267                                       C. King
Category: Standards Track                                  Isode Limited
                                                               July 2008

                           Contexts for IMAP4

Status of This Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


   The IMAP4rev1 protocol has powerful search facilities as part of the
   core protocol, but lacks the ability to create live, updated results
   that can be easily handled.  This memo provides such an extension,
   and shows how it can be used to provide a facility similar to virtual

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Conventions Used in This Document  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  Extended Sort Syntax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
     3.1.  ESORT Extension  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.2.  Ranges in Extended Sort Results  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.3.  Extended SORT Example  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   4.  Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     4.1.  Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     4.2.  Context Hint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     4.3.  Notifications of Changes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       4.3.1.  Refusing to Update Contexts  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
       4.3.2.  Common Features of ADDTO and REMOVEFROM  . . . . . . .  8
       4.3.3.  ADDTO Return Data Item . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
       4.3.4.  REMOVEFROM Return Data Item  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
       4.3.5.  The CANCELUPDATE Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     4.4.  Partial Results  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     4.5.  Caching Results  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   5.  Formal Syntax  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   6.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   7.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   8.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   9.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
     9.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
     9.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
   Appendix A.  Cookbook  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     A.1.  Virtual Mailboxes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     A.2.  Trash Mailboxes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     A.3.  Immediate EXPUNGE Notifications  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     A.4.  Monitoring Counts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     A.5.  Resynchronizing Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   Appendix B.  Server Implementation Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

1.  Introduction

   Although the basic SEARCH command defined in [IMAP], and as enhanced
   by [ESEARCH], is relatively compact in its representation, this
   reduction saves only a certain amount of data, and huge mailboxes
   might overwhelm the storage available for results on even relatively
   high-end desktop machines.

   The SORT command defined in [SORT] provides useful features, but is
   hard to use effectively on changing mailboxes over low-bandwidth

   This memo borrows concepts from [ACAP], such as providing a windowed
   view onto search or sort results, and making updates that are
   bandwidth and round-trip efficient.  These are provided by two
   extensions: "ESORT" and "CONTEXT".

2.  Conventions Used in This Document

   In examples, "C:" and "S:" indicate lines sent by the client
   messaging user agent and IMAP4rev1 ([IMAP]) server, respectively.
   "//" indicates inline comments not part of the protocol exchange.
   Line breaks are liberally inserted for clarity.  Examples are
   intended to be read in order, such that the state remains from one
   example to the next.

   Although the examples show a server that supports [ESEARCH], this is
   not a strict requirement of this specification.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [KEYWORDS].

   Other capitalized words are typically names of IMAP extensions or
   commands -- these are uppercased for clarity only, and are case-

3.  Extended Sort Syntax

   Servers implementing the extended SORT provide a suite of extensions
   to the SORT and UID SORT commands defined in [SORT].  This allows for
   return options, as used with SEARCH and specified in [IMAP-ABNF], to
   be used with SORT in a similar manner.

   The SORT and UID SORT commands are extended by the addition of an
   optional list of return options that follow a RETURN atom immediately
   after the command.  If this is missing, the server will return
   results as specified in [SORT].

   The extended SORT command always returns results in the requested
   sort order, but is otherwise identical in its behaviour to the
   extended SEARCH command defined in [IMAP-ABNF], as extended by
   [ESEARCH].  In particular, the extended SORT command returns results
   in an ESEARCH response.

3.1.  ESORT Extension

   Servers advertising the capability "ESORT" support the return options
   specified in [ESEARCH] in the SORT command.  These return options are
   adapted as follows:

      Return the message number/UID of the lowest sorted message
      satisfying the search criteria.

      Return the message number/UID of the highest sorted message
      satisfying the search criteria.

      Return all message numbers/UIDs which match the search criteria,
      in the requested sort order, using a sequence-set.  Note the use
      of ranges described below in Section 3.2.

      As in [ESEARCH].

3.2.  Ranges in Extended Sort Results

   Any ranges given by the server, including those given as part of the
   sequence-set, in an ESEARCH response resulting from an extended SORT
   or UID SORT command, MUST be ordered in increasing numerical order
   after expansion, as per usual [IMAP] rules.

   In particular this means that 10:12 is equivalent to 12:10, and
   10,11,12.  To avoid confusion, servers SHOULD present ranges only
   when the first seq-number is lower than the second; that is, either
   of the forms 10:12 or 10,11,12 is acceptable, but 12:10 SHOULD be

3.3.  Extended SORT Example

   If the list of return options is present but empty, then the server
   provides the ALL return data item in an ESEARCH response.  This is
   functionally equivalent to an unextended UID SORT command, but can
   use a smaller representation:

            UNKEYWORD $Junk
         S: * ESEARCH (TAG "E01") UID ALL 23765,23764,23763,23761,[...]
         S: E01 OK Sort completed

   Note that the initial three results are not represented as the range
   23765:23763 as mandated in Section 3.2.

4.  Contexts

4.1.  Overview

   The Contexts extension is present in any IMAP4rev1 server that
   includes the string "CONTEXT=SEARCH", and/or "CONTEXT=SORT", within
   its advertised capabilities.

   In the case of CONTEXT=SEARCH, the server supports the extended
   SEARCH command syntax described in [IMAP-ABNF], and accepts three
   additional return options.

   Servers advertising CONTEXT=SORT also advertise the SORT capability,
   as described in [SORT], support the extended SORT command syntax
   described in Section 3, and accept three additional return options
   for this extended SORT.

   These additional return options allow for notifications of changes to
   the results of SEARCH or SORT commands, and also allow for access to
   partial results.

   A server advertising the CONTEXT=SEARCH extension will order all
   SEARCH results, whether from a UID SEARCH or SEARCH command, in
   mailbox order -- that is, by message number and UID.  Therefore, the
   UID SEARCH, SEARCH, UID SORT, or SORT command used -- collectively
   known as the searching command -- will always have an order, the
   requested order, which will be the mailbox order for UID SEARCH and
   SEARCH commands.

   All of the return specifiers have no interaction with either each
   other or any return specifiers defined in [ESEARCH] or Section 3.1;
   however, it is believed that implementations supporting CONTEXT will
   also support ESEARCH and ESORT.

4.2.  Context Hint

   The return option CONTEXT SHOULD be used by a client to indicate that
   subsequent use of the search criteria are likely.  Servers MAY ignore
   this return option or use it as a hint to maintain a full result
   cache, or index.

   A client might choose to obtain a count of matching messages prior to
   obtaining actual results.  Here, the client signals its intention to
   fetch the results themselves:

          UNKEYWORD $Junk
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "A01") COUNT 23765
       S: A01 OK Search completed.

4.3.  Notifications of Changes

   The search return option UPDATE, if used by a client, causes the
   server to issue unsolicited notifications containing updates to the
   results that would be returned by an unmodified searching command.
   These update sets are carried in ADDTO and REMOVEFROM data items in
   ESEARCH responses.

   These ESEARCH responses carry a search correlator of the searching
   command, hence clients MUST NOT reuse tags, as already specified in
   Section 2.2.1 of [IMAP].  An attempt to use UPDATE where a tag is
   already in use with a previous searching command that itself used
   UPDATE SHALL result in the server rejecting the searching command
   with a BAD response.

   Both ADDTO and REMOVEFROM data items SHOULD be delivered to clients
   in a timely manner, as and when results change, whether by new
   messages arriving in the mailbox, metadata such as flags being
   changed, or messages being expunged.

   Typically, this would occur at the same time as the FETCH, EXISTS, or
   EXPUNGE responses carrying the source of the change.

   Updates will cease when the mailbox is no longer selected, or when
   the CANCELUPDATE command, defined in Section 4.3.5, is issued by the
   client, whichever is sooner.

   Unlike [ACAP], there is no requirement that a context need be created
   with CONTEXT to use UPDATE, and in addition, the lack of UPDATE with
   a CONTEXT does not affect the results caused by later searching
   commands -- there is no snapshot facility.

   There is no interaction between UPDATE and any other return options;
   therefore, use of RETURN (UPDATE MIN), for example, does not notify
   about the minimum UID or sequence number, but notifies instead about
   all changes to the set of matching messages.  In particular, this
   means that a client using UPDATE and PARTIAL on the same search
   program could receive notifications about messages that do not
   currently interest it.

   Finally, as specified in the errata to [IMAP], any message sequence
   numbers used in the search program are evaluated at the time the
   command is received; therefore, if the messages referred to by such
   message sequence numbers change, no notifications will be emitted.

   This time, the client will require notifications of updates and
   chooses to obtain a count:

          KEYWORD $Junk
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "B01") COUNT 74
       S: B01 OK Search completed, will notify.
       // Note that the following is rejected, and has no effect:
       S: B01 BAD Tag reuse

4.3.1.  Refusing to Update Contexts

   In some cases, the server MAY refuse to provide updates, such as if
   an internal limit on the number of update contexts is reached.  In
   such a case, an untagged NO is generated during processing of the
   command with a response-code of NOUPDATE.  The response-code
   contains, as argument, the tag of the search command for which the
   server is refusing to honour the UPDATE request.

   Other return options specified SHALL still be honoured.

   Servers MUST provide at least one updating context per client, and
   SHOULD provide more -- see Appendix B for strategies on reducing the
   impact of additional updating contexts.  Since sorted contexts
   require a higher implementation cost than unsorted contexts, refusal
   to provide updates for a SORT command does not imply that SEARCH
   contexts will also be refused.

   This time, the client will require notifications of updates, and
   chooses to obtain a count:

          KEYWORD $Junk
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "B02") COUNT 74
       S: * NO [NOUPDATE "B02"] Too many contexts
       S: B02 OK Search completed, will not notify.

   Client handling might be to retry with a UID SEARCH command, or else
   cancel an existing context; see Section 4.3.5.

4.3.2.  Common Features of ADDTO and REMOVEFROM

   The result update set included in the return data item is specified
   as UIDs or message numbers, depending on how the UPDATE was
   specified.  If the UPDATE was present in a SEARCH or SORT command,
   the results will be message numbers; in a UID SEARCH or UID SORT
   command, they will be UIDs.

   The client MUST process ADDTO and REMOVEFROM return data items in the
   order they appear, including those within a single ESEARCH response.
   Correspondingly, servers MUST generate ADDTO and REMOVEFROM responses
   such that the results are maintained in the requested order.

   As with any response aside from EXPUNGE, ESEARCH responses carrying
   ADDTO and/or REMOVEFROM return data items MAY be sent at any time.
   In particular, servers MAY send such responses when no command is in
   progress, during the processing of any command, or when the client is
   using the IDLE facility described in [IDLE].  Implementors are
   recommended to read [NOTIFY] as a mechanism for clients to signal
   servers that they are willing to process responses at any time, and
   are also recommended to pay close attention to Section 5.3 of [IMAP].

   It is anticipated that typical server implementations will emit ADDTO
   when they normally emit the causal FETCH or EXISTS, and similarly
   emit REMOVEFROM when they normally emit the causal FETCH or EXPUNGE.

4.3.3.  ADDTO Return Data Item

   The ADDTO return data item contains, as payload, a list containing
   pairs of a context position and a set of result updates in the
   requested order to be inserted at the context position.  Where the
   searching command is a SEARCH or UID SEARCH command, the context
   position MAY be zero.  Each pair is processed in the order that it

   Note that an ADDTO containing message sequence numbers added as a
   result of those messages being delivered or appended MUST be sent
   after the EXISTS notification itself, in order that those sequence
   numbers are valid.

   If the context position is non-zero, the result update is inserted at
   the given context position, meaning that the first result in the set
   will occupy the new context position after insertion, and any prior
   existing result at that context position will be shifted to a later
   context position.

   Where the context position is zero, the client MAY insert the message
   numbers or UIDs in the result list such that the result list is
   maintained in mailbox order.  In this case, servers are RECOMMENDED
   to order the result update into mailbox order to produce the shortest
   representation in set-syntax.

       S: * 23762 FETCH (FLAGS (\Deleted \Seen))
       S: * 23763 FETCH (FLAGS ($Junk \Seen))
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "B01") UID ADDTO (0 32768:32769)

   Note that this example assumes messages 23762 and 23763 with UIDs
   32768 and 32769 (respectively) previously had neither \Deleted nor
   $Junk set.  Also note that only the ADDTO is included, and not the
   (now changed) COUNT.

   If the searching command "C01" initially generated a result list of
   2734:2735, then the following three responses are equivalent, and
   yield a result list of 2731:2735:

       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "C01") UID ADDTO (1 2733 1 2732 1 2731)
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "C01") UID ADDTO (1 2733) ADDTO (1 2731:2732)
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "C01") UID ADDTO (1 2731:2733)

   The last is the preferred representation.

4.3.4.  REMOVEFROM Return Data Item

   The REMOVEFROM return data item contains, as payload, a list
   containing pairs of a context position and a set of result updates in
   the requested order to be removed starting from the context position.
   Where the searching command is a SEARCH or UID SEARCH command, the
   context position MAY be zero.  Each pair is processed in the order
   that it appears.

   If the context position is non-zero, the results are removed at the
   given context position, meaning that the first result in the set will
   occupy the given context position before removal, and any prior
   existing result at that context position will be shifted to an
   earlier context position.

   Where the context position is zero, the client removes the message
   numbers or UIDs in the result list wherever they occur, and servers
   are RECOMMENDED to order the result list in mailbox order to obtain
   the best benefit from the set-syntax.

   Note that a REMOVEFROM containing message sequence numbers removed as
   a result of those messages being expunged MUST be sent prior to the
   expunge notification itself, in order that those sequence numbers
   remain valid.

   Here, a message in the result list is expunged.  The REMOVEFROM is
   shown to happen without any command in progress; see Section 4.3.2.
   Note that EXPUNGE responses do not have this property.

       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "B01") UID REMOVEFROM (0 32768)
       C: B03 NOOP
       S: * 23762 EXPUNGE
       S: B03 OK Nothing done.

4.3.5.  The CANCELUPDATE Command

   When a client no longer wishes to receive updates, it may issue the
   CANCELUPDATE command, which will prevent all updates to the contexts
   named in the arguments from being transmitted by the server.  The
   command takes, as arguments, one or more tags of the commands used to
   request updates.

   The server MAY free any resource associated with a context so
   disabled -- however, the client is free to issue further searching
   commands with the same criteria and requested order, including
   PARTIAL requests.

       C: B04 CANCELUPDATE "B01"
       S: B04 OK No further updates.

4.4.  Partial Results

   The PARTIAL search return option causes the server to provide in an
   ESEARCH response a subset of the results denoted by the sequence
   range given as the mandatory argument.  The first result is 1; thus,
   the first 500 results would be obtained by a return option of
   "PARTIAL 1:500", and the second 500 by "PARTIAL 501:1000".  This
   intentionally mirrors message sequence numbers.

   A single command MUST NOT contain more than one PARTIAL or ALL search
   return option -- that is, either one PARTIAL, one ALL, or neither
   PARTIAL nor ALL is allowed.

   For SEARCH results, the entire result list MUST be ordered in mailbox
   order, that is, in UID or message sequence number order.

   Where a PARTIAL search return option references results that do not
   exist, by using a range which starts or ends higher than the current
   number of results, then the server returns the results that are in
   the set.  This yields a PARTIAL return data item that has, as
   payload, the original range and a potentially missing set of results
   that may be shorter than the extent of the range.

   Clients need not request PARTIAL results in any particular order.
   Because mailboxes may change, clients will often wish to use PARTIAL
   in combination with UPDATE, especially if the intent is to walk a
   large set of results; however, these return options do not interact
   -- the UPDATE will provide notifications for all matching results.

       // Recall from A01 that there are 23764 results.
          UNKEYWORD $Junk
          UNKEYWORD $Junk
          UNKEYWORD $Junk
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "A02") UID PARTIAL (23500:24000 ...)
       // 264 results in set syntax elided,
       // this spans the end of the results.
       S: A02 OK Completed.
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "A03") UID PARTIAL (1:500 ...)
       // 500 results in set syntax elided.
       S: A03 OK Completed.
       S: * ESEARCH (TAG "A04") UID PARTIAL (24000:24500 NIL)
       // No results are present, this is beyond the end of the results.
       S: A04 OK Completed.

4.5.  Caching Results

   Server implementations MAY cache results from a SEARCH or SORT,
   whether or not hinted to by CONTEXT, in order to make subsequent
   searches more efficient, perhaps by recommencing a subsequent PARTIAL
   search where a previous search left off.  However, servers MUST
   behave identically whether or not internal caching is taking place;
   therefore, any such cache is required to be updated as changes to the
   mailbox occur.  An alternate strategy would be to discard results
   when any change occurs to the mailbox.

5.  Formal Syntax

   The collected formal syntax.  This uses ABNF as defined in [ABNF].
   It includes definitions from [IMAP], [IMAP-ABNF], and [SORT].

   capability          =/ "CONTEXT=SEARCH" / "CONTEXT=SORT" / "ESORT"
       ;; <capability> from [IMAP]

   command-select      =/ "CANCELUPDATE" 1*(SP quoted)
       ;; <command-select> from [IMAP]

   context-position      = number
       ;; Context position may be 0 for SEARCH result additions.
       ;; <number> from [IMAP]

   modifier-context    = "CONTEXT"

   modifier-partial    = "PARTIAL" SP partial-range

   partial-range       = nz-number ":" nz-number
       ;; A range 500:400 is the same as 400:500.
       ;; This is similar to <seq-range> from [IMAP],
       ;; but cannot contain "*".

   modifier-update     = "UPDATE"

   search-return-opt   =/ modifier-context / modifier-partial /
       ;; All conform to <search-return-opt>, from [IMAP-ABNF]

   resp-text-code      =/ "NOUPDATE" SP quoted
       ;; <resp-text-code> from [IMAP]

   ret-data-addto      = "ADDTO"
                          SP "(" context-position SP sequence-set
                          *(SP context-position SP sequence-set)
       ;; <sequence-set> from [IMAP]

   ret-data-partial    = "PARTIAL"
                         SP "(" partial-range SP partial-results ")"
       ;; <partial-range> is the requested range.

   partial-results     = sequence-set / "NIL"
       ;; <sequence-set> from [IMAP]
       ;; NIL indicates no results correspond to the requested range.

   ret-data-removefrom = "REMOVEFROM"
                          SP "(" context-position SP sequence-set
                          *(SP context-position SP sequence-set)
       ;; <sequence-set> from [IMAP]

   search-return-data  =/ ret-data-partial / ret-data-addto /
       ;; All conform to <search-return-data>, from [IMAP-ABNF]

   sort                =/ extended-sort
       ;; <sort> from [SORT]

   extended-sort       = ["UID" SP] "SORT" search-return-opts
                         SP sort-criteria SP search-criteria
       ;; <search-return-opts> from [IMAP-ABNF]
       ;; <sort-criteria> and <search-criteria> from [SORT]

6.  Security Considerations

   This document defines additional IMAP4 capabilities.  As such, it
   does not change the underlying security considerations of [IMAP].
   The authors and reviewers believe that no new security issues are
   introduced with these additional IMAP4 capabilities.

   Creation of a large number of contexts may provide an avenue for
   denial-of-service attacks by authorized users.  Implementors may
   reduce this by limiting the number of contexts possible to create,
   via the protocol features described in Section 4.3.1; by reducing the
   impact of contexts by the implementation strategies described in
   Appendix B; and by logging context creation and usage so that
   administrative remedies may be applied.

7.  IANA Considerations

   IMAP4 capabilities are registered by publishing a Standards Track or
   IESG-approved Experimental RFC.

   This document defines the ESORT, CONTEXT=SEARCH, and CONTEXT=SORT
   IMAP capabilities.  IANA has added them to the registry accordingly.

8.  Acknowledgements

   Much of the design of this extension can be found in ACAP.  Valuable
   comments, both in agreement and in dissent, were received from Alexey
   Melnikov, Arnt Gulbrandsen, Cyrus Daboo, Filip Navara, Mark Crispin,
   Peter Coates, Philip Van Hoof, Randall Gellens, Timo Sirainen, Zoltan

   Ordogh, and others, and many of these comments have had significant
   influence on the design or the text.  The authors are grateful to all
   those involved, including those not mentioned here.

9.  References

9.1.  Normative References

   [ABNF]       Crocker, D. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
                Specifications: ABNF", STD 68, RFC 5234, January 2008.

   [ESEARCH]    Melnikov, A. and D. Cridland, "IMAP4 Extension to SEARCH
                Command for Controlling What Kind of Information Is
                Returned", RFC 4731, November 2006.

                4rev1", RFC 3501, March 2003.

   [IMAP-ABNF]  Melnikov, A. and C. Daboo, "Collected Extensions to
                IMAP4 ABNF", RFC 4466, April 2006.

   [KEYWORDS]   Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
                Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [SORT]       Crispin, M. and K. Murchison, "Internet Message Access
                Protocol - SORT and THREAD Extensions", RFC 5256,
                June 2008.

9.2.  Informative References

   [ACAP]       Newman, C. and J. Myers, "ACAP -- Application
                Configuration Access Protocol", RFC 2244, November 1997.

   [IDLE]       Leiba, B., "IMAP4 IDLE command", RFC 2177, June 1997.

   [NOTIFY]     Melnikov, A., Gulbrandsen, A., and C. King, "The IMAP
                NOTIFY Extension", Work in Progress, March 2008.

Appendix A.  Cookbook

A.1.  Virtual Mailboxes

   It is possible to use the facilities described within this memo to
   create a facility largely similar to a virtual mailbox, but handled
   on the client side.

   Initially, the client SELECTs the real "backing" mailbox.  Next, it
   can switch to a filtered view at any time by issuing a RETURN (COUNT
   UPDATE CONTEXT), and using RETURN (PARTIAL x:y) as the user scrolls,
   feeding the results into a FETCH as required to populate summary

   A typically useful view is "UID SORT (DATE) RETURN (...)  UTF-8
   UNSEEN UNDELETED", which can be used to show the mailbox sorted into
   INTERNALDATE order, filtered to only show messages which are unread
   and not yet deleted.

A.2.  Trash Mailboxes

   Certain contexts are particularly useful for client developers
   wishing to present something similar to the common trash mailbox
   metaphor in limited bandwidth.  The simple criteria of UNDELETED only
   matches undeleted messages, and the corresponding DELETED search key
   can be used to display a per-mailbox trash-like virtual mailbox.

A.3.  Immediate EXPUNGE Notifications

   The command "SEARCH RETURN (UPDATE) ALL" can be used to create a
   context that notifies immediately about expunged messages, yet will
   not affect message sequence numbers until the normal EXPUNGE message
   can be sent.  This may be useful for clients wishing to show this
   behavior without losing the benefit of sequence numbering.

A.4.  Monitoring Counts

   A client need not maintain any result cache at all, but instead it
   can maintain a simple count of messages matching the search criteria.
   Typically, this would use the SEARCH command, as opposed to UID
   SEARCH, due to its smaller representation.  Such usage might prove
   useful in monitoring the number of flagged, but unanswered, messages,

A.5.  Resynchronizing Contexts

   The creation of a context, and immediate access to it, can all be
   accomplished in a single round-trip.  Therefore, whilst it is
   possible to elide resynchronization if no changes have occurred, it
   is simpler in most cases to resynchronize by simply recreating the

Appendix B.  Server Implementation Notes

   Although a server may cache the results, this is neither mandated nor
   required, especially when the client uses SEARCH or UID SEARCH
   commands.  UPDATE processing, for example, can be achieved
   efficiently by comparison of the old flag state (if any) and the new,
   and PARTIAL can be achieved by re-running the search until the
   suitable window is required.  This is a result of there being no
   snapshot facility.

   For example, on a new message, the server can simply test for matches
   against all current UPDATE context search programs, and for any that
   match, send the ADDTO return data.

   Similarly, for a flag change on an existing message, the server can
   check whether the message matched with its old flags, whether it
   matches with new flags, and provide ADDTO or REMOVEFROM return data
   accordingly if these results differ.

   For PARTIAL requests, the server can perform a full search,
   discarding results until the lower bound is hit, and stopping the
   search when sufficient results have been obtained.

   With some additional state, it is possible to restart PARTIAL
   searches, thus avoiding performing the initial discard phase.

   For the best performance, however, caching the full search results is
   needed, which can allow for faster responses at the expense of
   memory.  One reasonable strategy would be to balance this trade-off
   at run-time, discarding search results after a suitable timeout, and
   regenerating them as required.

   This yields state requirements of storing the search program for any
   UPDATE contexts, and optionally storing both search program and
   (updated) results for further contexts as required.

   Note that in the absence of a server-side results cache, it may be
   impossible to know if an expunged message previously matched unless
   the original message is still available.  Therefore, some
   implementations may be forced into using a results cache in many

   UPDATE contexts created with SORT or UID SORT will almost certainly
   require some form of results caching, however.

Authors' Addresses

   Dave Cridland
   Isode Limited
   5 Castle Business Village
   36, Station Road
   Hampton, Middlesex  TW12 2BX

   EMail: dave.cridland@isode.com

   Curtis King
   Isode Limited
   5 Castle Business Village
   36, Station Road
   Hampton, Middlesex  TW12 2BX

   EMail: cking@mumbo.ca

Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2008).

   This document is subject to the rights, licenses and restrictions
   contained in BCP 78, and except as set forth therein, the authors
   retain all their rights.

   This document and the information contained herein are provided on an

Intellectual Property

   The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any
   Intellectual Property Rights or other rights that might be claimed to
   pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in
   this document or the extent to which any license under such rights
   might or might not be available; nor does it represent that it has
   made any independent effort to identify any such rights.  Information
   on the procedures with respect to rights in RFC documents can be
   found in BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Copies of IPR disclosures made to the IETF Secretariat and any
   assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of an
   attempt made to obtain a general license or permission for the use of
   such proprietary rights by implementers or users of this
   specification can be obtained from the IETF on-line IPR repository at

   The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
   copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary
   rights that may cover technology that may be required to implement
   this standard.  Please address the information to the IETF at


User Contributions:

Comment about this RFC, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: