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Building Peachmail: Email Services

Joe has completed adding his friends to his Address Book and is now ready to use the email services of Peachmail! The email services include the capability to view, send, receive, and delete email from his account. We've already shown how sending an email works from the Address Book screen. You'll see that sending from the main email screen is not much different.

The Front-End: Flash MX

We covered the New User button and the Address Book button of the main email screen (Figure 7.15) in the previous sections. Now we'll look at the remainder buttons: Compose, Delete, Reply, and Forward.

Figure 7.15Figure 7.15 The Peachmail main email screen.

Sending Email

The Compose, Reply, and Forward buttons involve the process of sending email, with the only difference being how the pop-up Compose screen is set up when the button is clicked. Take a look at the button handlers and notice how they all use the openCompose() method:

composeHandler = function () {
   // open the compose window

replyHandler = function () {
   // get the current email
   var email = emailMessages.getSelectedEmail();
   // get the subject, and add "RE: "
   var subject = "RE: " + email.emailObject.subject;
   // get the from address
   var fromAddress =;
   // make the message
   var message = "\n——- Original Message ——-\n" +
   // open the compose window, and set the variables
   openCompose(fromAddress, subject, message);

forwardHandler = function () {
   // get the current email
   var email = emailMessages.getSelectedEmail();
   // get the subject, add "FW: "
   var subject = "FW: " + email.emailObject.subject;
   // get the message
   var message = "\n——- Original Message ——-\n" + addTicks
   // open the compose window with the variable
   openCompose("", subject, message);

The openCompose() method on this screen is the same as the one in the Address Book screen. Generally, each openCompose() call fills in certain fields in the Compose screen depending on the handler. For instance, clicking Reply fills in the Compose screen's "To:" field, subject, and email body with the sender, subject, and email body of a selected email, respectively.

Clicking Forward fills in the Compose screen's subject and email body with the subject and email body of a selected email, and clicking Compose simply opens the Compose screen with nothing passed to it.

Notice how the Forward and Reply handlers require the selection of an email in order to fill in the Compose screen's fields with the proper content. This is achieved in the handlers by the line:

var email = emailMessages.getSelectedEmail(); 

"emailMessages" is an object of the custom emailList class used to manage the processing of the emails. We'll discuss the emailList class in more detail at the end of the chapter. For now, we can show that its getSelectedEmail() method calls the listbox component's getSelectedItem() method and its data variable to retrieve the selected email object:

emailList.prototype.getSelectedEmail = function () {
   // return the id
   return this.listBox.getSelectedItem().data;

The data variable is an object called emailObject, which contains the contents of the email, that is, email.sender,, email.subject, email.ReceiveDate, and so on.

One other thing to point out is the email body that is retrieved by the handlers in the line:


emailText is a textfield that displays the currently selected email message, and the function addTicks() simply prefixes markers to every line of the message body to indicate it's not part of the new email to be sent.

Once the Compose screen is open, it functions the same way as sending email that we discussed in the address book section.

Receiving Email

Peachmail is built to receive emails into a folder named Inbox. The Inbox folder is in a listbox called folders on the stage, and when it's clicked, Flash sends out a request to select the messages for that folder. To understand the detail of how the messages are retrieved and displayed to the screen, you need to understand how the messages are stored in Flash.

Peachmail contains a custom class called folderList():

global.folderList = function (listbox) {
   // store the listbox
   this.listbox = listbox;
   // set the change handler
   this.listbox.setChangeHandler("onChange", this);
   // store an array with the folders
   this.folders = [];

folderList() is used to track all the folders for a specific user. Each folder is displayed on the screen by using Macromedia's listbox component. In addition, its details are stored in an array this.folders.

When the user logs into Peachmail, the application immediately executes getFolders() to retrieve the folders for the current user. As in the handlers discussed in the previous sections, this function performs a create-send-callback action to create the Get Folders XML request, send it to the server, and process the retrieved folder data.

Here is the ActionScript for getFolders and its callback:

getFolders = function () {
   // create the xml
   var getFoldersXml = buildGetFoldersRequest();
   // create the call back
   getFoldersCallBack = function () {
     // create the folders list
     global.emailFolders = new folderList(folders);
     // if there are already messages, remove them
     // create the onSelect callback
     emailFolders.onSelect = function (folder) {
        // get the id
        var id =;
        // get the emails
     // make the folders array
     foldersArray = [];
     // get the data node
     var dataNode = findDataNode(this.getDocIn());
     // get the folders
     var folders = dataNode.firstChild.childNodes;
     // loop through the folders
     for (var i = 0; i < folders.length; i++) {
        // get the folder
        var folder = folders[i];
        // get the id
        var id = folder.attributes.ID;
        // get the name
        var name = String(folder.firstChild.firstChild);
        // add the folder
        foldersArray.push({id: id, name: name, emails:
        // add to the folders list
        emailFolders.addFolder(name, id);
   // send to server
   sendToServer(getFoldersXml, getFoldersCallback);

You'll notice the getFoldersCallBack() callback function is quite heavy compared to the handler callbacks we've seen in the previous sections, so let's step through its process.

The first thing it does is to create a folderList object named emailFolders and to set the emailFolders.listbox variable to point to the folders listbox on the stage:

global.emailFolders = new folderList(folders); 

Next, it clears the folders with the removeAll() listbox method, and then creates the onSelect() method for emailFolders. onSelect() is a key method for the retrieval of the email messages, as we'll discuss later. Then, it creates an array foldersArray. The callback then parses through the result data. For each folder it finds, it notes the folder name and folder ID, and proceeds to:

  1. Store the name and ID into a folder record in foldersArray, along with an empty array named emails:

    foldersArray.push({id: id, name: name, emails: []});
  2. Add the name and id into the emailFolders object as a new folder:

    emailFolders.addFolder(name, id);

The emailFolders.addFolder() method updates the folders listbox on the screen to display the added folder, in addition to updating the emailFolders' folders array with a folder record containing the folder name, folder ID, and the listbox index.

Here is the ActionScript for addFolder:

folderList.prototype.addFolder = function (name, id) {
   // add item to listbox
   this.listbox.addItem(name, id);
   // store in array
   this.folders.push({name: name, item: this.listbox.
    getLength(), id: id});

Now we can see how the handler updates the listbox on the screen. However, it's not so obvious how the code links a handler to the folders listbox for when a folder is clicked. Part of this involves understanding the Macromedia listbox component and how it handles changes.

When a user selects an item from the Macromedia listbox component, the onChange() handler of the listbox is automatically executed. The onChange() handler is not assigned by default, so it executes nothing in its default state. Recall the following line in the constructor for the folderList class:

this.listbox.setChangeHandler("onChange", this); 

When the folderList object emailFolders was created in getFolders Callback(), it executed the preceding line thus assigning the folders listbox's onChange() to the folderList's onChange() method:

folderList.prototype.onChange = function () {
   // call callback function, with the selected folder

Notice that the onChange() method executes the onSelect() method. onSelect() was defined in getFoldersCallback() and looks like this:

emailFolders.onSelect = function (folder) {
   // get the id
   var id =;
   // get the emails

onSelect() is passed the listbox's selected item, from emailFolders. onChange(). The folder ID is retrieved and then passed to getMessages(). The getMessages() function performs a create-send-callback action to get the messages for a specific folder. Of particular interest here is how much work the callback function getMessagesCallback() does in order to get the received data properly set up for viewing.

Here's the ActionScript for getMessages:

getMessages = function (folderId) {
   // create the xml
   var getMessagesXml = buildGetMessagesInFolderRequest
   // create the callback
   getMessagesCallback = function () {
     // check for success
     if (wasSuccessful(this.getDocIn())) {
        // create the email list
        emailMessages = new emailList(messages);
        // remove all emails from the listbox
        // create the handler
        emailMessages.onSelectEmail = function
         (emailData) {
          // get the details of the message
          // enable reply and forward buttons
          // check to see if there are attachments
          if (emailData.emailobject.hasAttachments ==
           "True") {
             // enable the combo box
          } else {
             // disable the combo box
          // keep track of last listbox selected
          global.selectedListBox = "emails";
        // create the delete handler
        emailMessages.onDeleteEmail = function
         (emailData) {
          // get the id
          var id =;
          debug.print(":::" + id);
          // get the xml
          var deleteEmailXml =
          // send to the server
        // get the data node
        var dataNode = findDataNode(this.getDocIn());
        // get the messages
        var messages = dataNode.firstChild.childNodes;
        // loop through the messages
        for (var i = 0; i < messages.length; i++) {
          // get the message
          var message = messages[i];
          // create a temp object
          var messageObject = {};
          // get the id
          messageObject.ID = message.attributes.ID;
          // get the read status
          messageObject.New = message.attributes.New;
          // get the recieve date
          messageObject.ReceiveDate = message.
          // get whether it has attachments
          messageObject.HasAttachments = message.
          // parse the sender to get the email and
           the name
          var sender = message.attributes.Sender.split
          // get the sender
          messageObject.Sender = sender[1].substring(0,
           sender[1].length - 1);
          // get the email
 = sender[0];
          // get the subject
          messageObject.Subject = unescape(message.
          // create the attachments array
          messageObject.attachments = [];
          // add the message to the email list
   // send the xml
   sendtoServer(getMessagesXml, getMessagesCallback);

The callback function getMessagesCallback() sets up an emailList object named emailMessages using the messages listbox on the stage:

emailMessages = new emailList(messages); 

emailMessages is created to facilitate all aspects of the messaging for a single folder. Next, the callback creates two handlers:


which will be called later, when a user selects and/or deletes email from the messages listbox. Finally, the getMessagesCallback() function loops through the received data and adds each message as an object into emailMessages with the following code:


Taking a look at addMail() in detail shows how it updates the messages listbox on the screen using the listbox component's addItem() method:

emailList.prototype.addEmail = function (email) {
   // add the email to the email list
   this.listBox.addItem(email.sender, email.subject,
    email.ReceiveDate, {id:, email:,
    emailObject: email});
   // get the length of the email list
   var length = this.listBox.getLength();
   // reference the number with the ids object
   this.ids[] = length - 1;

When an item is selected from the messages listbox, its change handler is automatically invoked. Just like in the emailFolders Class constructor, the emailList Class constructor links the "messages" listbox's change handler to its onChange() method.

Here's the ActionScript for onChange:

emailList.prototype.onChange = function () {
   // call callback function, supply the id

So when Joe clicks on a message from the messages listbox, emailList. onChange() calls the onSelectEmail() method, defined earlier in our call-back, triggering the viewing of the email. At this stage, however, all the emails for the inbox folder are loaded and ready to be viewed. Whew! Joe would be proud.

Viewing Email

We've shown that the user must initiate a request to update the messages listbox by clicking on a folder in the folders listbox, and you've seen that the getMessages() function, executed when the user clicks on a folder, populates the messages listbox with the subject headings of the messages from a given folder ID.

Without going into repetitive detail, getMessages() follows the same pattern as getFolders(): it performs a create-send-callback action to retrieve messages for the specified folder, and within the newly-defined callback, it generates the code necessary to view the message when a message is clicked. Recall that onSelectMail() is invoked when the user clicks on a message, and passes the messageID of the selected email to getMessageDetails():

getMessageDetails = function (messageID) {
   // create the xml
   var getMessageDetailsXml = buildGetMessageDetailsRequest
   // create the callback
   getMessageDetailsCallback = function (messageID) {
     // check for success
     if (wasSuccessful(this.getDocIn())) {
        // get the data node
        var dataNode = findDataNode(this.getDocIn());
        // get the message
        var message = dataNode.firstChild;
        // get the body
        var body = message.childNodes[2];
        // get the id
        var emailId = message.attributes.ID;
        // get the email
        var email = emailMessages.getEmail(emailId).
        // check to see if the email has attachments
          if (email.hasAttachments == "True") {
             // get the attachments
             var attachments = message.childNodes[3].
             // create an array to hold the attachments
             var attachmentsArray = [];
             // loop through the attachments
             for (var i = 0; i < attachments.length; i++) {
               // get the id
               var id = attachments[i].attributes.ID;
               // get the name
               var name = attachments[i].firstChild.
               // add it to the array
               attachmentsArray.push({name: name, id: Õ id});
             // process the attachments
          // set the text
          emailText.text = removeTags(body);
     // send the xml to the server
   getMessageDetailsCallback, messageID);

getMessagesDetails() uses the create-send-callback scheme and handles the retrieval of the message from the server, updating the stage's textfield with the text body of the email.

Deleting Email

Deleting email is a two-click process: the user first clicks on a message from the messages listbox, and then clicks the Delete button. Let's start off easy by looking at the Delete button's handler:

deleteHandler = function () {
   // delete selected

Remembering that emailMessages is an object of the emailList() Class, we see that deleteSelectedEmail() looks like this:

emailList.prototype.deleteSelectedEmail = function () {
   // get the selected email
   var email = this.listBox.getSelectedItem().data;
   // get the email number
   var num = this.ids[];
   // remove from the listbox
   // call the callback handler

deleteSelectedEmail() facilitates the deletion by removing the message from the listbox, and then calling onDeleteEmail(). For convenience, here is the onDeleteEmail() method again:

emailMessages.onDeleteEmail = function (emailData) {
   // get the id
   var id =;
   // get the xml
   var deleteEmailXml = buildDeleteMessageRequest(id);
   // send to the server sendToServer(deleteEmailXml);

Notice how onDeleteEmail() only passes one argument to sendToServer(), that being the XML request to delete the record from the database. No call-back is required because the server simply takes the request to delete and passes the change request to the database.

Let's move on to explore some of the transactional data between Flash and the server to carry out the actions for Email Services.

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