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Upload attachments by email

KT Walrus

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Awhile back, I requested you consider adding support for uploading attachments by email rather than a FORM. I was primarily motivated to give my users an easy way to upload photos from their iPhones.

I never got around to implementing this myself, but I have always wanted to have this feature for my members.

Well, I was browsing around yesterday and found a Web Service called CloudMailin that appears to provide just what is needed to easily implement attachment upload by email.

I am hoping that IPS might consider officially supporting CloudMailin.

Since CloudMailin supports using "to+uid@myforum.com" addressing, each member would be assigned a unique UID to form the email address to which they can send attachments to. IPB would verify that the FROM address and UID in the TO address match before accepting the email from CloudMailin. Then, CloudMailin can post the entire email (with attachments optionally uploaded to Amazon S3) to IPB for processing of the attachments. After processing, the attachments could be made available to the user through the My Media panel to turn into an attachment for a post.

The free CloudMailin account probably isn't sufficient for a real forum to use, but the other plans are reasonably priced. IPS could also do a deal with CloudMailin to resell this service under IPS branding just the way IPS intends to resell CDN services. I would request though that any implementation support the CloudMailin service or even third-party scripts that provide similar Posting via email.

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After thinking about this a bit more, I think IPS should provide attachments by email as an extra service (and do a deal with CloudMailin to provide that service). Hopefully, buying in bulk the CloudMailin service will allow for overall cheaper pricing. For example, CloudMailin's free/cheaper plans don't allow very large attachments. IPS resold plans could allow 25MB attachments (to match free GMail limits) and only charge based on the total size of all attachments received. The IPS resold plans could include S3 storage (having this built-in to all plans) so IPS would be reselling not only the attachments by email, but also support uploads to the same S3 storage and hosting of all a forum's attachments in S3.

That is, IPS could resell CDN service and attachments hosted in the Cloud (S3) with optional attachments via email to Cloud.

And, one more thing... Avatars should be supported to the Cloud (S3) so that all member files would be in the Cloud and I would only need to worry about backing up my forum's database and not member files.

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This turns out to be very easy for me to implement myself. All I needed to do was to set up sendmail on my server to run a script that uses a PEAR PHP class to parse the message into its MIME parts, validate the message is from a registered user to their secret upload email address, save the attachments that have allowed content-types to S3, and updating the DB.

I only spent 2 hours on this today and got it basically working. Still needs to be polished to assign an upload email address to each member and allow them to provide valid "from" addresses (in addition to their registered email address). Also, need to update My Media to allow selection/viewing of the uploaded attachments.

But, since it is so easy to pipe email for a catchall account to a script and save the attachments and update the DB, I don't think I need a third party service like CloudMailin.com.

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