Roundcube webmail – Auto reply plugin

roundcubeAt the office we use a standard mailserver config with POP3, IMAP, SpamAssassin and Squirellmail for webmail on linux. At the place where I previously worked we had a default PLESK installation with Horde for webmail.

I usually just use IMAP for my e-mail within Outlook on my office computer and IMAP with Thunderbird when I’m home on my laptop with Ubuntu, but my laptop gave me some troubles at home so I took my girlfriends laptop and fired up my webmail.

Damn!, Squirellmail is so incredibly ugly and gui-unfriendly compared to Horde or any other webmail project you come across. Not only do the themes stink, but it misses out on several basic functionality like sieve filtering and per-user SpamAssassin preferences.

I had some spare time on my hands so I went looking for a Squirellmail alternative. Very quickly you will find that there aren’t that many (good) webmail clients around. There is GoogleMail, Horde, Roundcube, Zimbra and a few lesser known ones. GoogleMail isn’t an option since we don’t like to host our e-mail elsewhere, Zimbra isn’t because it is more of an collaboration suite then it is a webmail client and Horde isn’t an option once you compare it to Roundcube 🙂

RoundCube is an excellent open source experience for an AJAX webmail, and what will really attract you to Roundcube is its advanced user interface with drag and drop functionnalities which make it very easy to organize your email. RoundCube Webmail is written in PHP and requires a MySQL database. The user interface is fully skinnable using XHTML and CSS 2. Roundcube also offers extensions in the form of plugins. This enables you to use SpamAssassin options per-user, Sievefiltering per-user, etc.

Roundcube was definitely the webmail program the fitted our needs most. We quickly installed it next to our Squirellmail installation. The installation was super-easy and super-fast. Then installed the ManageSieve and SpamAssassin plugins and I thought we were good to go.

Then a colleague mentioned that he couldn’t set a auto-reply from within RoundCube. He was planning to take a few days off and wanted to set an out-of-the-office notification. I quickly looked in the RoundCube repository for a auto-reply function but it is only available for a specific Windows mailserver. On the forums of RoundCube the programmers state that there will be no such official plugin or feature made available since they think it is not something the webmail program should manage.

I disagree.

I think users should be able to set their auto-reply message from within their webmail and not having to go trough Usermin or Webmin to do so.

Since SquirellMail DID have the auto-reply functionality available and SquirellMail also runs on PHP and MySQL I decided to just take that plugin and port it to RoundCube. I wrapped the whole thing in a RoundCube plugin format and voila, it works brilliantly.

The plugin writes a file to the users homedir where the SendMail server picks it up and fires the ‘Vacation’ plugin that sends an auto-reply.

Anyone who wants the plugin can download it here.

Update – If you can’t use FTP to put the forward files you may try using the squirrelmail_vacation_proxy program. Not that I do not support this program nor the use of it.

You may download it here.

Update – There is now a SourceForge project concerning this plugin. You can download the files there and contribute to it as well.

Support and questions can also be put in the projects forum.