I’m implementing an intranet using the Horde suite of tools. This is written in PHP, and provides an amazing amount of out of the box, easily configured functionality. The most robust pieces are the mail client (incidentally, used by WestHost for webmail, and very scalable), the calendar, and the address book. There are a ton of other projects using the Horde framework, but most of them are in beta, and haven’t been officially released. Apparently these applications are pretty solid (at least, that’s what I get from reading the mail list) but I wanted to shy away from unreleased code. I am, however, anxiously awaiting the day that the new version is ready; as you can see from the demo site that it’s pretty sharp.
Anyway, I was very happy with the Horde framework. The only issue I had was that the mail application was very slow. I was connecting to a remote imap server, and PHP has no way to cache imap connections. Also, for some reason, the mail application reconnects to the imap server every time. However, someone on that same thread suggested using UP IMAP Proxy. This very slick C program was simple to compile and install on a BSD box, and sped up the connections noticeably. For instance, the authentication to the imap server (the only part of the application that I instrumented) went from 10 milliseconds to 1. It apparently caches the user name and password (as an MD5 hash) and only communicates with the imap server when it doesn’t have the information needed (for example, when you first visit, or when you’re requesting messages from your inbox). It does have some security concerns (look here and search for P_NEWLOG), but you can handle these at the network level. All in all, I’m very impressed with UP IMAP Proxy.
And, for that matter, I’m happy with Horde. I ended up having to write a small horde module, and while the framework doesn’t give you some things that I’m used to in the java world (no database pooling, no MVC pattern) it does give you a lot of other stuff (an object architecture to follow, single sign-on, logging). And I’m not aware of any framework in the java world that comes with so many applications ready to roll out. It’s all LGPL and, as I implied above, the released modules have a very coherent structure that makes it easy to add and subtract needed functionality.
Bravo Horde developers! Bravo imap proxy maintainer!