Meeting the people behind the most exciting homegrown OSS projects.

Open source spotlight: RainLoop
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This month, we speak to Usenko Timur about RainLoop (GitHub), a web-based email client built in PHP.

WPM: Who’s behind RainLoop?

Timur: An ordinary developer from Russia 🙂 Also, there are several people who helped me, and that help is really appreciated.

Why did you decide to start it? And why did you make it open source?

That’s quite a long story. Initially, I have created MailSo, PHP library for handling mails. Its main idea was to make sure that size of messages does not affect amount of memory used by PHP. Then I thought I should develop some other tool so that development of the library goes in right direction. That’s when I started making webmail client based on MailSo library. There were like 7 attempts to create an application which would satisfy me in terms of code quality and design. The 8th attempt, which involved KnockoutJs library released around that time, has provided the result I was looking for. That’s how RainLoop appeared, and eventually it became much more complex than MailSo.

As for the second question, RainLoop isn’t exactly open source. It’s free, yes, but I only provide the package I’ve built. PHP source there can be freely reviewed and modified, but JS files are minified to speed up loading, and the CSS is a result of processing less-files.

What’s the appeal of hosting your own email client?

I guess, this is where everyone has their own reasons. Some people are happy with GMail while other look for better control over their mails so they install their own mail servers and use webmail clients they find appropriate.

How can people get involved in the project, and what can they do to help out?

Currently, what I need the most is translations and issue descriptions used in logs. I’m trying to examine, process and implement those as soon as possible. Later, a plugin system will be added and documented, and anyone will be able to extend product functionality to one’s liking. And of course, I’d like to know what kind of features people want to see in RainLoop – though with any new features added, RainLoop must stay as a simple email application, easy for understanding and configuring.

Where do you hope to see the project in a year’s time?

Timur: This all depends on project users. Their feedback will help me perfect the current functionality. I’m staying realistic as to what I can achieve, but what can be improved will be improved 🙂

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Interestingly, Timur once again „forgot“ to mention that at the time of making this interview (and for many years before that) we was fulltime employee in AfterLogic Corp and had been developing WebMail Pro So he made a product which competes with the company where he’s working. Many of that unnamed „several people“ had no idea they’re contributing their time and experience in making mail components and applications to somewhat Timur planned to do for this own personal profit. This was the first time Timur „forgot“, forgot to tell colleagues and company management that little thing : some experimental… Read more »
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