hiveminder and imap, now sharing a bed

Today, Best Practical announced IMAP access to Hiveminder. It’s way cool, and I’m sure I’ll end up making a lot of improvement to my mutt configuration tools to make the most of it. You can check out their blog post or documentation for more information, but basically you point your IMAP client at Hiveminder and you can see your todo list. You can drop new tasks (in the form of email from elsewhere) into inbound folders and you can move existing tasks into other folders to cause them to become hidden or complete. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist.

My IMAP client of choice is OfflineIMAP, as I’ve said many times before. It’s the easiest way for me to use mutt with IMAP, whether online or off. Unfortunately, it has a really stupid bug. Every message in an IMAP account has a unique id (the UID), which is useful for doing synchronization. It lets you figure out that you’ve moved a message from one place to another in your offline store. OfflineIMAP doesn’t seem to keep the same UID on messages that have moved from one folder to another, which made it impossible to use the IMAP interface to mark a message done or hidden.

As usual, the guys at Hiveminder were quick to sort this out, making their correct software cope with my twitchy software.

Now, the folders in which Hiveminder presents your tasks are (I am told) great for users of GUI MUAs, where they form a nice hierarchy of folders that you can drill down through. Here’s a summary of the folder layout:

  Hide for
      01 day
      01 month
Braindump mailboxes
    All tasks
    Everyone else's tasks
    Up for grabs

Here’s what they look like as directories:

Actions/Hide for/Days../01 day
Actions/Hide for/Months../01 month
Braindump mailboxes/[]
Groups/pep/All tasks
Groups/pep/Everyone else's tasks
Groups/pep/Up for grabs

The amount of typing needed to move things around between these folders is a drag. Fortunately, OfflineIMAP makes it really simple to map Hiveminder’s IMAP folders into a nice, shallow, easy to type hierarchy. With my OfflineIMAP configuration, it looks like this:


I need to do a bit of work to make WhichConfig check $0 (or something) to notice that I want to use Hiveminder, rather than the “normal” mail available to it. Even without having done that, the IMAP interface is pretty fantastic. I see a lot of weird Maildir tricks in my future. Until I have some to publish, here’s my OfflineIMAP configuration for use with Hiveminder:


pythonfile = ~/.offlineimap/

[Account hiveminder]
localrepository = hiveminder_maildir
remoterepository = hiveminder_imap

[Repository hiveminder_imap]
type = IMAP
remotehost =
ssl = yes
remoteuser =
remotepass = PASSWORD

nametrans    = lambda foldername: hm_nametrans(foldername)
folderfilter = lambda foldername: hm_folderfilter(foldername)

[Repository hiveminder_maildir]
type = Maildir
localfolders = ~/Mailhive

This relies on a few Python functions stored in another file:

import re

hide_re = re.compile('^Actions/Hide')
spec_re = re.compile('(?P<n>\d\d) (?P<units>days?|months?)$')

def hm_folderfilter(folder):
  if folder in ('Actions', 'Groups'): return False

  if and not return False

  return True

def hm_nametrans(folder):
  if folder == 'Actions/Completed': return 'done'
  if folder == 'Actions/Take': return 'take'
  if folder == 'Actions/Take': return 'take'

  folder = re.compile('Braindump mailboxes').sub('braindump', folder)

    spec  =
    n     = int('n'))
    units ='units')

    return 'hide/%s%s' % (n, units[0:1])

  if re.compile('^Groups').search(folder):
    folder = re.compile('All tasks').sub('all', folder)
    folder = re.compile('Up for grabs').sub('avail', folder)
    folder = re.compile("Everyone else's tasks").sub('others', folder)

  return folder.lower()
Written on March 3, 2008
email   hiveminder   productivity