Internet Programming with Java Course

1.9. SMTP/POP3 JavaMail API

Introducing the JavaMail API

The JavaMail API is an optional package (standard extension) for reading, composing, and sending electronic messages. You use the package to create Mail User Agent (MUA) type programs, similar to Eudora, Pine, and Microsoft Outlook. Its main purpose is not for transporting, delivering, and forwarding messages like sendmail or other Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) type programs. In other words, users interact with MUA-type programs to read and write emails. MUAs rely on MTAs to handle the actual delivery.

The JavaMail API is designed to provide protocol-independent access for sending and receiving messages by dividing the API into two parts:

Reviewing Related Protocols

Before looking into the JavaMail API specifics, step back and take a look at the protocols used with the API. There are basically four that you'll come to know and love:

You will also run across NNTP and some others. Understanding the basics of all the protocols will help you understand how to use the JavaMail API. While the API is designed to be protocol agnostic, you can't overcome the limitations of the underlying protocols. If a capability isn't supported by a chosen protocol, the JavaMail API doesn't magically add the capability on top of it. (As you'll soon see, this usually is a problem when working with POP.)

SMTP

The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the mechanism for delivery of email. In the context of the JavaMail API, your JavaMail-based program will communicate with your company or Internet Service Provider's (ISP's) SMTP server. That SMTP server will relay the message on to the SMTP server of the recipient(s) to eventually be acquired by the user(s) through POP or IMAP. This does not require your SMTP server to be an open relay, as authentication is supported, but it is your responsibility to ensure the SMTP server is configured properly. There is nothing in the JavaMail API for tasks like configuring a server to relay messages or to add and remove email accounts.

POP

POP stands for Post Office Protocol. Currently in version 3, also known as POP3, RFC 1939 defines this protocol. POP is the mechanism most people on the Internet use to get their mail. It defines support for a single mailbox for each user. That is all it does, and that is also the source of most confusion. Much of what people are familiar with when using POP, like the ability to see how many new mail messages they have, are not supported by POP at all. These capabilities are built into programs like Eudora or Microsoft Outlook, which remember things like the last mail received and calculate how many are new for you. So, when using the JavaMail API, if you want this type of information, you have to calculate it yourself.

IMAP

IMAP is a more advanced protocol for receiving messages. Defined in RFC 2060, IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, and is currently in version 4, also known as IMAP4. When using IMAP, your mail server must support the protocol. You can't just change your program to use IMAP instead of POP and expect everything in IMAP to be supported. Assuming your mail server supports IMAP, your JavaMail-based program can take advantage of users having multiple folders on the server and these folders can be shared by multiple users.

Due to the more advanced capabilities, you might think IMAP would be used by everyone. It isn't. It places a much heavier burden on the mail server, requiring the server to receive the new messages, deliver them to users when requested, and maintain them in multiple folders for each user. While this does centralize backups, as users' long-term mail folders get larger and larger, everyone suffers when disk space is exhausted. With POP, saved messages get offloaded from the mail server.

MIME

MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. It is not a mail transfer protocol. Instead, it defines the content of what is transferred: the format of the messages, attachments, and so on. There are many different documents that take effect here: RFC 822, RFC 2045, RFC 2046, and RFC 2047. As a user of the JavaMail API, you usually don't need to worry about these formats. However, these formats do exist and are used by your programs.

NNTP and Others

Because of the split of the JavaMail API between provider and everything else, you can easily add support for additional protocols. Sun maintains a list of third-party providers that take advantage of protocols that Sun doesn't provide support for, out-of-the-box. There, you'll find support for NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol) [newsgroups], S/MIME (Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), and more.

Installing

There are two versions of the JavaMail API commonly used today: 1.2 and 1.1.3. All the examples in this course will work with both. While 1.2 is the latest, 1.1.3 is the version included with the 1.2.1 version of the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE), so it is still commonly used. The version of the JavaMail API you want to use affects what you download and install. All will work with JDK 1.1.6+, Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE) version 1.2.x, and J2SE version 1.3.x.

Note: After installing Sun's JavaMail implementation, you can find many example programs in the demo directory.

 

Installing JavaMail 1.2

To use the JavaMail 1.2 API, download the JavaMail 1.2 implementation, unbundle the javamail-1_2.zip file, and add the mail.jar file to your CLASSPATH. The 1.2 implementation comes with an SMTP, IMAP4, and POP3 provider besides the core classes.

After installing JavaMail 1.2, install the JavaBeans Activation Framework.

Installing JavaMail 1.1.3

To use the JavaMail 1.1.3 API, download the JavaMail 1.1.3 implementation, unbundle the javamail1_1_3.zip file, and add the mail.jar file to your CLASSPATH. The 1.1.3 implementation comes with an SMTP and IMAP4 provider, besides the core classes.

If you want to access a POP server with JavaMail 1.1.3, download and install a POP3 provider. Sun has one available separate from the JavaMail implementation. After downloading and unbundling pop31_1_1.zip, add pop3.jar to your CLASSPATH, too.

After installing JavaMail 1.1.3, install the JavaBeans Activation Framework.

Installing the JavaBeans Activation Framework

All versions of the JavaMail API require the JavaBeans Activation Framework. The framework adds support for typing arbitrary blocks of data and handling it accordingly. This doesn't sound like much, but it is your basic MIME-type support found in many browsers and mail tools, today. After downloading the framework, unbundle the jaf1_0_1.zip file, and add the activation.jar file to your CLASSPATH.

For JavaMail 1.2 users, you should now have added mail.jar and activation.jar to your CLASSPATH.

For JavaMail 1.1.3 users, you should now have added mail.jar, pop3.jar, and activation.jar to your CLASSPATH. If you have no plans of using POP3, you don't need to add pop3.jar to your CLASSPATH.

If you don't want to change the CLASSPATH environment variable, copy the JAR files to your lib/ext directory under the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) directory. For instance, for the J2SE 1.3 release, the default directory would be C:\jdk1.3\jre\lib\ext on a Windows platform.

Using with the Java 2 Enterprise Edition

If you use J2EE, there is nothing special you have to do to use the basic JavaMail API; it comes with the J2EE classes. Just make sure the j2ee.jar file is in your CLASSPATH and you're all set.

For J2EE 1.2.1, the POP3 provider comes separately, so download and follow the steps to include the POP3 provider as shown in Installing JavaMail 1.1.3. J2EE 1.3 users get the POP3 provider with J2EE so do not require the separate installation. Neither installation requires you to install the JavaBeans Activation Framework.

Reviewing the Core Classes

Before taking a how-to approach at looking at the JavaMail classes in depth, the following walks you through the core classes that make up the API: Session, Message, Address, Authenticator, Transport, Store, and Folder. All these classes are found in the top-level package for the JavaMail API: javax.mail, though you'll frequently find yourself using subclasses found in the javax.mail.internet package.

Session

The Session class defines a basic mail session. It is through this session that everything else works. The Session object takes advantage of a java.util.Properties object to get information like mail server, username, password, and other information that can be shared across your entire application.

The constructors for the class are private. You can get a single default session that can be shared with the getDefaultInstance() method:

Properties props = new Properties();
// fill props with any information
Session session = Session.getDefaultInstance(props, null);

Or, you can create a unique session with getInstance():

Properties props = new Properties();
// fill props with any information
Session session = Session.getInstance(props, null);

In both cases here the null argument is an Authenticator object which is not being used at this time. More on Authenticator shortly.

In most cases, it is sufficient to use the shared session, even if working with mail sessions for multiple user mailboxes. You can add the username and password combination in at a later step in the communication process, keeping everything separate.

Message

Once you have your Session object, it is time to move on to creating the message to send. This is done with a type of Message. Being an abstract class, you must work with a subclass, in most cases javax.mail.internet.MimeMessage. A MimeMessage is a email message that understands MIME types and headers, as defined in the different RFCs. Message headers are restricted to US-ASCII characters only, though non-ASCII characters can be encoded in certain header fields.

To create a Message, pass along the Session object to the MimeMessage constructor:

MimeMessage message = new MimeMessage(session);

Note: There are other constructors, like for creating messages from RFC822-formatted input streams.

Once you have your message, you can set its parts, as Message implements the Part interface (with MimeMessage implementing MimePart). The basic mechanism to set the content is the setContent() method, with arguments for the content and the mime type:

message.setContent("Hello", "text/plain");

If, however, you know you are working with a MimeMessage and your message is plain text, you can use its setText() method which only requires the actual content, defaulting to the MIME type of text/plain:

message.setText("Hello");

For plain text messages, the latter form is the preferred mechanism to set the content. For sending other kinds of messages, like HTML messages, use the former. More on HTML messages later though.

For setting the subject, use the setSubject() method:

message.setSubject("First");
 

Address

Once you've created the Session and the Message, as well as filled the message with content, it is time to address your letter with an Address. Like Message, Address is an abstract class. You use the javax.mail.internet.InternetAddress class.

To create an address with just the email address, pass the email address to the constructor:

Address address = new InternetAddress("president@whitehouse.gov");

If you want a name to appear next to the email address, you can pass that along to the constructor, too:

Address address = new InternetAddress("president@whitehouse.gov", "George Bush");

You will need to create address objects for the message's from field as well as the to field. Unless your mail server prevents you, there is nothing stopping you from sending a message that appears to be from anyone.

Once you've created the addresses, you connect them to a message in one of two ways. For identifying the sender, you use the setFrom() and setReplyTo() methods.

message.setFrom(address)

If your message needs to show multiple from addresses, use the addFrom() method:

Address address[] = ...;
message.addFrom(address);

For identifying the message recipients, you use the addRecipient() method. This method requires a Message.RecipientType besides the address.

message.addRecipient(type, address)

The three predefined types of address are:

So, if the message was to go to the vice president, sending a carbon copy to the first lady, the following would be appropriate:

Address toAddress = new InternetAddress("vice.president@whitehouse.gov");
Address ccAddress = new InternetAddress("first.lady@whitehouse.gov");
message.addRecipient(Message.RecipientType.TO, toAddress);
message.addRecipient(Message.RecipientType.CC, ccAddress);

The JavaMail API provides no mechanism to check for the validity of an email address. While you can program in support to scan for valid characters (as defined by RFC 822) or verify the MX (mail exchange) record yourself, these are all beyond the scope of the JavaMail API.

Authenticator

Like the java.net classes, the JavaMail API can take advantage of an Authenticator to access protected resources via a username and password. For the JavaMail API, that resource is the mail server. The JavaMail Authenticator is found in the javax.mail package and is different from the java.net class of the same name. The two don't share the same Authenticator as the JavaMail API works with Java 1.1, which didn't have the java.net variety.

To use the Authenticator, you subclass the abstract class and return a PasswordAuthentication instance from the getPasswordAuthentication() method. You must register the Authenticator with the session when created. Then, your Authenticator will be notified when authentication is necessary. You could popup a window or read the username and password from a configuration file (though if not encrypted it is not secure), returning them to the caller as a PasswordAuthentication object.

Properties props = new Properties();
// fill props with any information
Authenticator auth = new MyAuthenticator();
Session session = Session.getDefaultInstance(props, auth);

Transport

The final part of sending a message is to use the Transport class. This class speaks the protocol-specific language for sending the message (usually SMTP). It's an abstract class and works something like Session. You can use the default version of the class by just calling the static send() method:

Transport.send(message);

Or, you can get a specific instance from the session for your protocol, pass along the username and password (blank if unnecessary), send the message, and close the connection:

message.saveChanges(); // implicit with send()
Transport transport = session.getTransport("smtp");
transport.connect(host, username, password);
transport.sendMessage(message, message.getAllRecipients());
transport.close();

 

This latter way is best when you need to send multiple messages, as it will keep the connection with the mail server active between messages. The basic send() mechanism makes a separate connection to the server for each method call.

Note: To watch the mail commands go by to the mail server, set the debug flag with session.setDebug(true).

Store and Folder

Getting messages starts similarly to sending messages, with a Session. However, after getting the session, you connect to a Store, quite possibly with a username and password or Authenticator. Like Transport, you tell the Store what protocol to use:

// Store store = session.getStore("imap");
Store store = session.getStore("pop3");
store.connect(host, username, password);

After connecting to the Store, you can then get a Folder, which must be opened before you can read messages from it:

Folder folder = store.getFolder("INBOX");
folder.open(Folder.READ_ONLY);
Message message[] = folder.getMessages();

For POP3, the only folder available is the INBOX. If you are using IMAP, you can have other folders available.

Note: Sun's providers are meant to be smart. While Message message[] = folder.getMessages(); might look like a slow operation reading every message from the server, only when you actually need to get a part of the message is the message content retrieved.

Once you have a Message to read, you can get its content with getContent() or write its content to a stream with writeTo(). The getContent() method only gets the message content, while writeTo() output includes headers.

System.out.println(((MimeMessage)message).getContent());

Once you're done reading mail, close the connection to the folder and store.

folder.close(aBoolean);
store.close();

The boolean passed to the close() method of folder states whether or not to update the folder by removing deleted messages.

Moving On

Essentially, understanding how to use these seven classes is all you need for nearly everything with the JavaMail API. Most of the other capabilities of the JavaMail API build off these seven classes to do something a little different or in a particular way, like if the content is an attachment. Certain tasks, like searching, are isolated, and are discussed later.

Using the JavaMail API

You've seen how to work with the core parts of the JavaMail API. In the following sections you'll find a how-to approach for connecting the pieces to do specific tasks.

Sending Messages

Sending an email message involves getting a session, creating and filling a message, and sending it. You can specify your SMTP server by setting the mail.smtp.host property for the Properties object passed when getting the Session:

String host = ...;
String from = ...;
String to = ...;
 
// Get system properties
Properties props = System.getProperties();
 
// Setup mail server
props.put("mail.smtp.host", host);
 
// Get session
Session session = Session.getDefaultInstance(props, null);
 
// Define message
MimeMessage message = new MimeMessage(session);
message.setFrom(new InternetAddress(from));
message.addRecipient(Message.RecipientType.TO, 
new InternetAddress(to));
message.setSubject("Hello JavaMail");
message.setText("Welcome to JavaMail");
 
// Send message
Transport.send(message);

 

You should place the code in a try-catch block, as setting up the message and sending it can throw exceptions.

Fetching Messages

For reading mail, you get a session, get and connect to an appropriate store for your mailbox, open the appropriate folder, and get your message(s). Also, don't forget to close the connection when done.

String host = ...;
String username = ...;
String password = ...;
 
// Create empty properties
Properties props = new Properties();
 
// Get session
Session session = Session.getDefaultInstance(props, null);
 
// Get the store
Store store = session.getStore("pop3");
store.connect(host, username, password);
 
// Get folder
Folder folder = store.getFolder("INBOX");
folder.open(Folder.READ_ONLY);
 
// Get directory
Message message[] = folder.getMessages();
 
for (int i=0, n=message.length; i<n; i++) {
 System.out.println(i + ": " + message[i].getFrom()[0] 
+ "\t" + message[i].getSubject());
}
 
// Close connection 
folder.close(false);
store.close();

 

What you do with each message is up to you. The above code block just displays who the message is from and the subject. Technically speaking, the list of from addresses could be empty and the getFrom()[0] call could throw an exception.

To display the whole message, you can prompt the user after seeing the from and subject fields, and then call the message's writeTo() method if they want to see it.

BufferedReader reader = new BufferedReader (
 new InputStreamReader(System.in));
 
// Get directory
Message message[] = folder.getMessages();
for (int i=0, n=message.length; i<n; i++) {
 System.out.println(i + ": " + message[i].getFrom()[0] 
+ "\t" + message[i].getSubject());
 
 System.out.println("Do you want to read message? " +
 "[YES to read/QUIT to end]");
 String line = reader.readLine();
 if ("YES".equals(line)) {
 message[i].writeTo(System.out);
 } else if ("QUIT".equals(line)) {
 break;
 }
}

Deleting Messages and Flags

Deleting messages involves working with the Flags associated with the messages. There are different flags for different states, some system-defined and some user-defined. The predefined flags are defined in the inner class Flags.Flag and are listed below:

Just because a flag exists doesn't mean the flag is supported by all mail servers/providers. For instance, besides deleting messages, the POP protocol supports none of them. Checking for new mail is not a POP task but one built into mail clients. To find out what flags are supported, ask the folder with getPermanentFlags().

To delete messages, you set the message's DELETED flag:

message.setFlag(Flags.Flag.DELETED, true);

Open up the folder in READ_WRITE mode first though:

folder.open(Folder.READ_WRITE);

Then, when you are done processing all messages, close the folder, passing in a true value to expunge the deleted messages.

folder.close(true);

There is an expunge() method of Folder that can be used to delete the messages. However, it doesn't work for Sun's POP3 provider. Other providers may or may not implement the capabilities. It will more than likely be implemented for IMAP providers. Because POP only supports single access to the mailbox, you have to close the folder to delete the messages with Sun's provider.

To unset a flag, just pass false to the setFlag() method. To see if a flag is set, check with isSet().

Authenticating Yourself

You previously learned that you can use an Authenticator to prompt for username and password when needed, instead of passing them in as strings. Here you'll actually see how to more fully use authentication.

Instead of connecting to the Store with the host, username, and password, you configure the Properties to have the host, and tell the Session about your custom Authenticator instance, as shown here:

// Setup properties
Properties props = System.getProperties();
props.put("mail.pop3.host", host);
 
// Setup authentication, get session
Authenticator auth = new PopupAuthenticator();
Session session = Session.getDefaultInstance(props, auth);
 
// Get the store
Store store = session.getStore("pop3");
store.connect();

 

You then subclass Authenticator and return a PasswordAuthentication object from the getPasswordAuthentication() method. The following is one such implementation, with a single field for both. As this isn't a Project Swing tutorial, just enter the two parts in the one field, separated by a comma.

import javax.mail.*;
import javax.swing.*;
import java.util.*;
 
public class PopupAuthenticator extends Authenticator {
 
 public PasswordAuthentication getPasswordAuthentication() {
 String username, password;
 
 String result = JOptionPane.showInputDialog(
 "Enter 'username,password'");
 
 StringTokenizer st = new StringTokenizer(result, ",");
 username = st.nextToken();
 password = st.nextToken();
 
 return new PasswordAuthentication(username, password);
 }
 
}

Since the PopupAuthenticator relies on Swing, it will start up the event-handling thread for AWT. This basically requires you to add a call to System.exit() in your code to stop the program.

Replying to Messages

The Message class includes a reply() method to configure a new Message with the proper recipient and subject, adding "Re: " if not already there. This does not add any content to the message, only copying the from or reply-to header to the new recipient. The method takes a boolean parameter indicating whether to reply to only the sender (false) or reply to all (true).

MimeMessage reply = (MimeMessage)message.reply(false);
reply.setFrom(new InternetAddress("president@whitehouse.gov"));
reply.setText("Thanks");
Transport.send(reply);

To configure the reply-to address when sending a message, use the setReplyTo() method.

Forwarding Messages

Forwarding messages is a little more involved. There is no single method to call, and you build up the message to forward by working with the parts that make up a message.

A mail message can be made up of multiple parts. Each part is a BodyPart, or more specifically, a MimeBodyPart when working with MIME messages. The different body parts get combined into a container called Multipart or, again, more specifically a MimeMultipart. To forward a message, you create one part for the text of your message and a second part with the message to forward, and combine the two into a multipart. Then you add the multipart to a properly addressed message and send it.

That's essentially it. To copy the content from one message to another, just copy over its DataHandler, a class from the JavaBeans Activation Framework.

// Create the message to forward
Message forward = new MimeMessage(session);
 
// Fill in header
forward.setSubject("Fwd: " + message.getSubject());
forward.setFrom(new InternetAddress(from));
forward.addRecipient(Message.RecipientType.TO, 
new InternetAddress(to));
 
// Create your new message part
BodyPart messageBodyPart = new MimeBodyPart();
messageBodyPart.setText(
 "Here you go with the original message:\n\n");
 
// Create a multi-part to combine the parts
Multipart multipart = new MimeMultipart();
multipart.addBodyPart(messageBodyPart);
 
// Create and fill part for the forwarded content
messageBodyPart = new MimeBodyPart();
messageBodyPart.setDataHandler(message.getDataHandler());
 
// Add part to multi part
multipart.addBodyPart(messageBodyPart);
 
// Associate multi-part with message
forward.setContent(multipart);
 
// Send message
Transport.send(forward);

 

Working with Attachments

Attachments are resources associated with a mail message, usually kept outside of the message like a text file, spreadsheet, or image. As with common mail programs like Eudora and pine, you can attach resources to your mail message with the JavaMail API and get those attachments when you receive the message.

Sending Attachments

Sending attachments is quite like forwarding messages. You build up the parts to make the complete message. After the first part, your message text, you add other parts where the DataHandler for each is your attachment, instead of the shared handler in the case of a forwarded message. If you are reading the attachment from a file, your attachment data source is a FileataSource. Reading from a URL, it is a URLDataSource. Once you have your DataSource, just pass it on to the DataHandler constructor, before finally attaching it to the BodyPart with setDataHandler(). Assuming you want to retain the original filename for the attachment, the last thing to do is to set the filename associated with the attachment with the setFileName() method of BodyPart. All this is shown here:

// Define message
Message message = new MimeMessage(session);
message.setFrom(new InternetAddress(from));
message.addRecipient(Message.RecipientType.TO, 
new InternetAddress(to));
message.setSubject("Hello JavaMail Attachment");
 
// Create the message part 
BodyPart messageBodyPart = new MimeBodyPart();
 
// Fill the message
messageBodyPart.setText("Pardon Ideas");
 
Multipart multipart = new MimeMultipart();
multipart.addBodyPart(messageBodyPart);
 
// Part two is attachment
messageBodyPart = new MimeBodyPart();
DataSource source = new FileDataSource(filename);
messageBodyPart.setDataHandler(new DataHandler(source));
messageBodyPart.setFileName(filename);
multipart.addBodyPart(messageBodyPart);
 
// Put parts in message
message.setContent(multipart);
 
// Send the message
Transport.send(message);

 

When including attachments with your messages, if your program is a servlet, your users must upload the attachment besides tell you where to send the message. Uploading each file can be handled with a form encoding type of multipart/form-data.

<FORM ENCTYPE="multipart/form-data" 
method=post action="/myservlet"> 
<INPUT TYPE="file" NAME="thefile">
 <INPUT TYPE="submit" VALUE="Upload">
</FORM>

 

Note: Message size is limited by your SMTP server, not the JavaMail API. If you run into problems, consider increasing the Java heap size by setting the ms and mx parameters.

Getting Attachments

Getting attachments out of your messages is a little more involved then sending them, as MIME has no simple notion of attachments. The content of your message is a Multipart object when it has attachments. You then need to process each Part, to get the main content and the attachment(s). Parts marked with a disposition of Part.ATTACHMENT from part.getDisposition() are clearly attachments. However, attachments can also come across with no disposition (and a non-text MIME type) or a disposition of Part.INLINE. When the disposition is either Part.ATTACHMENT or Part.INLINE, you can save off the content for that message part. Just get the original filename with getFileName() and the input stream with getInputStream().

Multipart mp = (Multipart)message.getContent();
 
for (int i=0, n=multipart.getCount(); i<n; i++) {
 Part part = multipart.getBodyPart(i));
 
 String disposition = part.getDisposition();
 
 if ((disposition != null) && 
((disposition.equals(Part.ATTACHMENT) || 
(disposition.equals(Part.INLINE))) {
 saveFile(part.getFileName(), part.getInputStream());
 }
}

 

The saveFile() method just creates a File from the filename, reads the bytes from the input stream, and writes them off to the file. In case the file already exists, a number is added to the end of the filename until one is found that doesn't exist.

// from saveFile()
File file = new File(filename);
for (int i=0; file.exists(); i++) {
 file = new File(filename+i);
}

 

The code above covers the simplest case where message parts are flagged appropriately. To cover all cases, handle when the disposition is null and get the MIME type of the part to handle accordingly.

if (disposition == null) {
 // Check if plain
 MimeBodyPart mbp = (MimeBodyPart)part;
 if (mbp.isMimeType("text/plain")) {
 // Handle plain
 } else {
 // Special non-attachment cases here of 
// image/gif, text/html, ...
 }
...
}

 

Processing HTML Messages

Sending HTML-based messages can be a little more work than sending plain text messages, though it doesn't have to be that much more work. It all depends on your specific requirements.

Sending HTML Messages

If all you need to do is send the equivalent of an HTML file as the message and let the mail reader worry about fetching any embedded images or related pieces, use the setContent() method of Message, passing along the content as a String and setting the content type to text/html.

String htmlText = "<H1>Hello</H1>" + 
"<img src=\"http://www.jguru.com/images/logo.gif\">";
message.setContent(htmlText, "text/html"));

On the receiving end, if you fetch the message with the JavaMail API, there is nothing built into the API to display the message as HTML. The JavaMail API only sees it as a stream of bytes. To display the message as HTML, you must either use the Swing JEditorPane or some third-party HTML viewer component.

if (message.getContentType().equals("text/html")) {
 String content = (String)message.getContent();
 JFrame frame = new JFrame();
 JEditorPane text = new JEditorPane("text/html", content);
 text.setEditable(false);
 JScrollPane pane = new JScrollPane(text);
 frame.getContentPane().add(pane);
 frame.setSize(300, 300);
 frame.setDefaultCloseOperation(JFrame.DISPOSE_ON_CLOSE);
 frame.show();
}
Including Images with Your Messages

On the other hand, if you want your HTML content message to be complete, with embedded images included as part of the message, you must treat the image as an attachment and reference the image with a special cid URL, where the cid is a reference to the Content-ID header of the image attachment.

The process of embedding an image is quite similar to attaching a file to a message, the only difference is that you have to tell the MimeMultipart that the parts are related by setting its subtype in the constructor (or with setSubType()) and set the Content-ID header for the image to a random string which is used as the src for the image in the img tag. The following demonstrates this completely.

String file = ...;
 
// Create the message
Message message = new MimeMessage(session);
 
// Fill its headers
message.setSubject("Embedded Image");
message.setFrom(new InternetAddress(from));
message.addRecipient(Message.RecipientType.TO, 
new InternetAddress(to));
 
// Create your new message part
BodyPart messageBodyPart = new MimeBodyPart();
String htmlText = "<H1>Hello</H1>" + 
"<img src=\"cid:memememe\">";
messageBodyPart.setContent(htmlText, "text/html");
 
// Create a related multi-part to combine the parts
MimeMultipart multipart = new MimeMultipart("related");
multipart.addBodyPart(messageBodyPart);
 
// Create part for the image
messageBodyPart = new MimeBodyPart();
 
// Fetch the image and associate to part
DataSource fds = new FileDataSource(file);
messageBodyPart.setDataHandler(new DataHandler(fds));
messageBodyPart.setHeader("Content-ID","<memememe>");
 
// Add part to multi-part
multipart.addBodyPart(messageBodyPart);
 
// Associate multi-part with message
message.setContent(multipart);

Searching with SearchTerm

The JavaMail API includes a filtering mechanism found in the javax.mail.search package to build up a SearchTerm. Once built, you then ask a Folder what messages match, retrieving an array of Message objects:

SearchTerm st = ...;
Message[] msgs = folder.search(st);

There are 22 different classes available to help you build a search term.

Essentially, you build up a logical expression for matching messages, then search. For instance the following term searches for messages with a (partial) subject string of ADV or a from field of friend@public.com. You might consider periodically running this query and automatically deleting any messages returned.

SearchTerm st = 
new OrTerm(
 new SubjectTerm("ADV:"), 
new FromStringTerm("friend@public.com"));
Message[] msgs = folder.search(st);

Resources

You can do much more with the JavaMail API than what's described here. The lessons and exercises found here can be supplemented by the following resources:

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